With the rise in the level of poverty, poor houses run by parishes sprung up all over England to give relief to the poor. However, the conditions prevailing in the work houses were dismal and the management were insensitive to the feelings of the inmates. Instead of alleviating the sufferings of the paupers, they abused their rights as individuals and caused the poor further misery. The theme of the struggle of the unfortunate, in general and Oliver in particular, in a ruthless world in "Oliver Twist" is a reflection of the plight of the inmates of the workhouses.
Poverty leading to crime and crime resulting in isolation are the other Themes in the novel. Dickens had the opportunity to observe the residents of the London streets from close quarters. In order to escape the pangs of hunger and shadow of insecurity, the poor children took to crime and fell into the hands of the underworld. Nancy's story relates the tale of an unfortunate woman who had fallen into the evil hands of Fagin because of her poverty and destitution. She is haunted by her guilt and regrets her presence in the criminal world. However, she feels helpless in the midst of criminals who fail to understand her feelings and offer her no sympathy. She feels isolated from the world around her.
Greed corrupting the soul of the individual is another theme taken up by Dickens in Oliver Twist. Mr. Bumble marries Mrs. Corney for her little wealth and position. This decision costs him peace of mind and independence. Later, in connivance with his wife, he sells Oliver's identity to Monks for a mere twenty five pounds. In the process he sells his soul and suffers the consequences of his act. Fagin decides to make Oliver a thief out... [continues]
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