Tuesday 29th January
How useful are the novel Oliver Twist and the film Oliver to an Historian investigating life in the workhouse in the 19th century?
The novel Oliver Twist is useful because it shows that there were boys in the workhouse and that they were all kept together as there was no description of any women. It also tells us that the diet of the boys was despicable because it states that ‘Of this festive composition each boy had one porringer, and no more- event on occasions of the public rejoicing, when he had two ounces and a quarter of bread besides’ This is obviously not enough to fill up a young growing boy who worked hard all day and lived in these terrible conditions! It also says that ‘They bowls never wanted washing. The boys polished them with their spoons till they shone again.’ This shows, as they were eating so quickly, that this was an absolutely measly amount to fill they appetite of these boys. Therefore the novel could be a good source to use to investigate the life of an orphan as dickens definitely shows these facts clearly. The film Oliver! is also useful because it shows that were boys in the workhouse and that they all lived together, we know this because there are no orphan girls in the workhouse throughout the whole film. It shows that the plans of the workhouses and the dining rooms are correct as there were no girls with the boys. Yes because they were devouring one bowl of gruel and no more and they were not able to have second helpings as Oliver proves! This may be a reliable source of information to use to investigate life at the workhouses because it includes facts and portrays them well! However they both have limitations. They do not show any women being separate in the workhouse, so if we just use the book and film to investigate then we wouldn’t know about there being girls in there too. Also, ‘no child under 12 shall be punished by confinement in a dark room’ and Oliver was under 12 and he was! Also people who...
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