Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist Essay

Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist Essay

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Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist


The novel Oliver Twist is a criticism of the cruelty that children and
poor people suffered at the hands of 19th century society. It was
Dickens first novel written under his own name when he was 24 years
old and in it he already reveals his sharp, but comic comments and
criticism.

From the start Dickens makes it clear to the reader that poor people
and the children of poor people; most especially a baby born
illegitimately; were of no consequence in the 1900s. The first person
narrator feels he need not “trouble” himself “as it can be of no
possible consequence” to tell us the place or date of Oliver’s birth.
This concept is further revealed when he refers to Oliver as an “item
of mortality” and then later on in the chapter “it”. The child
deserves no name as he is not a legitimate member of society so he has
no place or importance: he starts life at the bottom of the Victorian
food chain. By having the narrator address Oliver as a “it” instead of
a “him” Oliver is dehumanised and so Dickens draws this to our
attention.

Born into “this world or sorrow and trouble” our narrator seems to
believe that Oliver’s chance of survival are extremely slim, so we are
surprised when Dickens has him say; “it was the best thing for Oliver
Twist that would by possibility have occurred” (being born in a
workhouse), he also tells us the baby “lay gasping on a little flock
mattress rather unequally poised between this world and the next”. All
the odds are against Oliver yet this neglect saves him life! With
amusing sarcasm Dickens suggests that if Oliver had been “surrounded
by careful grandmothers, anxious aunts, experienced nurses and doctors
of profound wisdom, he would most inevit...


... middle of paper ...


...ses Oliver’s “solitary incarceration” he
says enemies of the system claim that “Oliver was denied the benefit
of exercise, the pleasure of society or the advantages of religious
consolation” Dickens then defends this statement by sarcastically
saying “as for exercise it was nice cold weather, and he was allowed
to perform his ablutions every morning under the pump, in a stone
yard, in the presence of Mr Bumble, who prevented his catching a cold
and causes a tingling sensation to pervade his frame, by repeated
applications of the cane” Dickens sarcastically addresses exercise as
being beaten, a physical punishment for Oliver.

Oliver is also abused mentally, at evening when the boys went to pray,
Oliver was “kicked into the same apartment every evening” and there he
listend to the other boys “ask god to guard them from the sins and
vices of Oliver Twist”.

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