Depiction of the Poor in Charles Dickens´Oliver Twist Essay

Depiction of the Poor in Charles Dickens´Oliver Twist Essay

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Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist is a novel in which the author gives readers a look inside the cruel, grimy time period of 1800’s England, also known as the Victorian era. It tells the bitter story of a small orphan child named, Oliver Twist. Oliver was born in nineteenth century England in a workhouse. His mother died in childbirth and, due to the carelessness of those who should be caretakers, the identity of both the boy’s father and mother remains unknown. Throughout the novel Oliver is brutally treated and, no matter where he ends up, it seems as though the boy cannot catch a break. Although fiction, Dickens’ tale seems to precisely capture the vicious treatment of the lower class during the Victorian Era.
Oliver Twist was written with the purpose of criticizing England’s treatment of the poor during the 1800’s, specifically the Poor Laws. Around the 1830’s, England was undergoing a rapid transformation from an economy that relied heavily on agriculture to an industrial and urban nation. As a result, job opportunities grew and were quickly seized by the middle class. The middle class, having been insecure regarding their social status, began to relate work with morality. They envied the upper class, who did not have to work to survive, and were ashamed of the fact that they did. However, work was the only thing that distinguished the middle class from the lower class. So, in an attempt to differentiate between themselves and the lower class and boost their moral, the middle class made work seem honorable. As a result of this, those who did not work, and instead suffered on the streets, were left victim to hatred and cruelty. While work became associated with prestige, poverty was linked to laziness and uselessness. With this ...


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...time period was a harsh one and those living in poverty were treated with cruelty, the book should not be solely used for the purpose of teaching. From the literary aspect, it is an excellent story. On the other hand, from the historical aspect, it does not show the points of view from both sides of the spectrum. On one side, there were the people that suffered greatly with poverty alone and the Poor Laws just added to that. And on the other side are those who created the Poor Laws in an attempt to eliminate poverty. Though their actions were harsh, I am sure that they had reasons for justification, but this book does not show any of them. Because of Dickens’ past sufferings as a result of the Poor Laws, one can easily see why and how the novel would be biased and, for this reason, I do not believe that Oliver Twist is an effective tool in teaching this time period.

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