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Literary Realism in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

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Literary Realism in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

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  • Jan. 2011
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The novel opens in a workhouse north of London where Oliver is born to Agnes, an unwed mother, who dies soon after his birth. The infant is sent to a branch workhouse to be looked after by Mrs. Mann who pockets a major portion of the stipends allotted to the orphans. When Oliver is nine years old, he is taken back to the workhouse to learn the business of picking oakum. Like other children, he finds life in the workhouse miserable. Most of the time they are ill-treated and sent to bed hungry. One day when Oliver asks for more food, he is beaten up and confined to a solitary cell. Later, he is sold to Mr. Sowerberry, an undertaker, who makes him his apprentice. He is trained to be a mute at children's funerals. Though Mr. Sowerberry likes him, Mrs. Sowerberry and her loyal servant, Noah Claypole, make his life miserable. One day, after he hits Noah for taunting him and insulting his mother, Oliver is beaten up and confined to a dark room. Early the next morning, he makes his escape to London. The first chapter of Oliver's life thus comes to an end. On the way to London, Oliver meets a young man named John Dawkins who gives him food and promises to provide him shelter. Dawkins, also known as Artful Dodger, introduces him to the underworld by taking him to the house of Fagin. Unaware of the nature of the underworld, Oliver lives in the midst of criminals enjoying himself more than ever before. However, the day he goes out with Dodger and Bates and watches them pocketing the purse of a gentleman, his suspicions are aroused. He feels revolted and tries to run away from the scene. Unfortunately, the gentleman seeing him running away from the scene, suspects him of being the thief. As Dodger and Bates make their escape, Oliver is led to the office of the magistrate. He is almost charged for the theft, when the bookseller, who was a witness to the crime, enters the scene and declares him innocent. Unable to withstand the strain anymore, Oliver faints. Mr. Brownlow takes...