Oliver Twist Character Analysis

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Oliver Twist Characterization of the Criminal Mind In Charles Dickens novel, Oliver Twist, Dickens portrays the hardships of people in poverty during the Victorian era through Oliver and various characters throughout the novel. Oliver is born into a workhouse with no name where he is starved, beaten, and treated like a prisoner during the first ten years of his life. Dickens makes all his characters in the novel “…either a jailor or a prisoner, like Dickens himself both, the author and his turn key” (Lepore). Two characters that are both exemplified as prisoners throughout the novel are Oliver and Nancy. During Oliver’s younger years, he is under both the Parochial and Fagin’s reign. As for Nancy, she is depicted in certain ways as a prisoner to Bill Sikes. While Oliver is under the Parachial’s control, he is lacking food and being mistreated. Due to this exploitation, he builds up the courage to ask “…the cook at the workhouse for more gruel’’ (Dickens 12). During this era, it was rare for people of his social class to speak out and ask such demanding questions. Questions of this stature during this era is very comparable to someone breaking the law, due to the Poor Laws which set the quota of how much a person needs to eat. The Parochial were corrupt because they would short the amount of gruel per person and keep the money. Oliver is soon put up for sale, due to his unruliness, and sold to Sowerberry. Sowerberry lacking the available funds, is supported by his corrupt friend Mr. Bumble, who pockets the money for himself. With the help from Mr. Bumble, Sowerberry frees Oliver from the maltreatment of the parochial. Throughout the novel, Dickens uses many characters to challenge the Victorian idea that paupers and criminals ar... ... middle of paper ... ...ghout Oliver Twist there exists an underlying criminal code of honor among the thieves in Fagin's circle. The code, the unspoken rule that requires a criminal who is apprehended to remain silent about ongoing criminal activity, not only creates the illusion of the proverbial honor among thieves, but more important, it ensures the continued accumulation of stolen goods by those criminals who remain free. Fagin is the code's most ardent supporter; he holds those who adhere to the code in high regard and severely punishes those who breach it. Most significantly, he also abides by it as he refuses to defend himself at his trial. In doing so, he unknowingly implicates himself in Nancy's murder. (Thompson) Dickens portrays Fagin to be very complex that he is willing to give Oliver up for 100 pounds but he will not give up a fellow thieve and damn himself to the gallows.
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