Oliver Twist

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Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is one of the most widely recognized and beloved stories of all time. The popularity of the novel and its author has made the book a frequent subject of literary criticism. Although the work has received mainly praise, some critics attack the novel. Since its publication, Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist has evolved from being criticized as a social commentary and a work of art, to a literary and artistic composition. Charles Dickens was born Charles John Huffam Dickens on February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, England. Spending most of his childhood in London and Kent, Charles led a privileged life until 1824. It was then, while Charles was twelve years old, that his father, mother, and siblings were sent to debtor's prison. Although Dickens escaped the same fate as his family, he was forced to support himself by working in a shoe-polish factory. The horrific conditions in the factory haunted Dickens for the rest of his life. Dickens's childhood experiences with the English legal system and in the factories made him a life-long champion of the poor. His novels are filled with downtrodden figures such as abused, impoverished orphans. He had a profound sympathy for childhood suffering and a strong desire for social reform that touches his work at almost every level. These themes heavily influence Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens). Dickens left the factory, educated himself, and in 1827 took a job as a legal clerk. After learning shorthand, he began working as a reporter in the courts and Parliament. The great detail and precise description that characterize Dickens' style in his novels are accredited to his experience as a reporter. After finding success as a reporter, Dickens focused on writing novels. He wrote a best-selling collection of humorous stories called The Pickwick Papers about orphans. With his second novel, Oliver Twist, Dickens retained some of the humor and the title character of an orphan, but he wrote a book with a more complex plot and a grittier look at the horrors of London. Dickens list of literary accomplishments continues with Nicholas Nickleby (1839), Master Humphrey's Clock (including Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge 1840-1841), A Christmas Carol (1843), The Cricket on the Hearth (1845), Dombey and Son (1848), David Copperfield (1850), Bleak House (1853), Hard Times for These Times (1854), Little Dorrit (1857), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1861), Our Mutual Friend (1865), and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (unfinished 1870) (Dickens iv). Published in monthly installments in Bentley's Magazine before being released in its entirety, Oliver Twist, or The Parrish Boy's Progress as it was also called, is the bildungsroman story of an orphan named Oliver Twist. The story begins with Oliver's birth as an illegitimate child. His mother dies in childbirth and Bumble, a beadle for a local church, names the boy and takes him under his custody at the parish "baby farm" or orphanage. After defiantly asking for more food, Oliver is apprenticed to Mr. Sowerberry the undertaker. Clashes with other boys who ridicule him for not having a mother and being illegitimate get Oliver in more trouble. After running away, Oliver meets up with Jack Dawkins, the Artful Dodger. Oliver is brought to the hideout of Fagin, a master criminal and fencer of stolen goods, who decides to corrupt Oliver and use him in crimes. During a failed attempt to pick the pockets of a well-to-do businessman named Mr. Brownlow, Oliver is arrested. However, Mr. Brownlow chooses not to press charges against the boy and instead brings Oliver home. After Oliver is nursed back to health, he is sent out on an errand for Mr. Brownlow. While out on this errand, Oliver is kidnapped and brought back to Fagan by Nancy and Sikes, two other members of the gang. Fagin once again sends Oliver out to assist at a robbery, where he is shot and left by the other thieves. The occupants of the house,...
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