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Society's Social Slip-Up: Oliver Twist, written by Charles Dickens

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Oliver Twist, written by Charles Dickens, is an intense denigration of society’s treatment toward the poor. In this time period depicted, wealth and class ascertained one’s status. This dim-witted but true reality forced many into a predetermined fate as with Oliver. When Oliver is first born, Dickens divulges on how the boy will be addressed: “the orphan of a workhouse—the humble, half-starved drudge—to be cuffed and buffeted through the world—despised by all, and pitied by none” (Dickens 3). Society cringed at the idea of the poor, viewing them as lesser beings. In Dickens’s era, laws and institutions were formed to “abet” the poor; however, these were actually meant to appease the “better” part of society. Even when the upper classes assert to be assuaging the lower-class dilemma, they only end up aggravating and adding to it. The rules called for the division of the poor families to ensure that they would not continue to repopulate the lower-class, as it was alleged that this rank was inherently immoral. The poor children were put into these institutions in belief that the state could raise them accordingly to society’s standards versus their “meager” parents. The workhouses, established by the middle-class, said purpose was to raise the poor children after the age of nine. However, these institutions replicated the vices it was “supposed” to obliterate by feeding and clothing the children as little as possible. The middle-class characters’ assumption that the lower-class is made up of innate criminals sustains their image of themselves as an unsoiled and virtuous group in society. These characters placed into positions of power, such as Mrs. Mann and Mr. Bumble, deduce that they are morally superior to their paupers, simply b...

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