In today’s world, I have serious doubts I can expect anyone to get the reference in my title, so I’m going to start off by ruining the punchline on the headline right here: it’s a play on the idea of a Dickensian world, which is defined in the Cambridge Dictionary (and who should know better?) as
relating to or similar to something described in the books of the 19th-century English writer Charles Dickens, especially living or working conditions that are below an acceptable standard:
The bathrooms in this hotel are positively Dickensian – no hot water and grime everywhere.
In an old piece of news, dating back to ancient times—2013, to be exact—Annie Dookhan, described as “an ambitious state chemist,” set out to “prove her worth.” She was enabled in her quest by a set of working conditions that were below an acceptable standard.