Irony is present throughout Oliver Twist and is one of the main literary devices that Dickens uses. Just as hypocrisy is a major feature in the novel so is satire as such characters as Mr. Bumble and Fagan are satirized by Dickens; along with various institutions present in the book. Dickens uses irony to convey the dire circumstances Oliver and the other orphans find themselves in. Dickens gives accounts of the lower classes living conditions and ironically refers to Oliver and his fellow orphans to be “without the inconvenience of too much food or too much clothing,” when truthfully the young children are starving and wearing rags. This is what leads to Oliver being forced to ask for more gruel and his eventual removal from the workhouse.
Chapter five was one ...
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...t the lower classes experience.
Dickens’ satire and use of irony and humour throughout the novel describes the charitable institutions as places that breed corruption, inhumanity, and alienation. The treatment Oliver received is a prime example of this. In Dickens’ time society’s failure to recognize these problems destroyed the lives of many innocent children. Dickens highlights these problems extremely effectively throughout his novel using various literary techniques such as irony, satire and humour and also uses his characters to represent such corrupt institutions. By exploring the problems of the past, perhaps we will be more capable of identifying the downfalls that may arise in the institutions of our time.
Dickens, Charles, Oliver Twist, (wordsworth edition limited 2000)
Smiley, Jane, Charles Dickens: A Life, (Penguin Group US 2002)
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