Oliver Twist

Topics: Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Workhouse Pages: 6 (2169 words) Published: September 26, 2010

How does Dickens create sympathy for the character of Oliver in the first four chapters of Oliver twist?

Oliver Twist is the second novel Charles Dickens wrote and one of his darkest dealing with burglary, kidnapping, abuse, prostitution and murder. Charles Dickens first introduced his novel as small monthly instalments in a magazine called the Bentley’s Miscellany. This will explain why Dickens creates lots of tension and cliff-hangers in this lasts paragraphs of each chapter.

Charles Dickens’ childhood was plagued by poverty and unfortunate incidents, from his father John Dickens, being arrested due to the failure to pay a mounting debt. Charles Dickens himself had to work at a shoe polish factory to pay off his father’s debts, while the rest of his family were sent Marshalsea.

Dickens later left the factory and returned to full time education, although his experience in the blacking factory made him very sympathetic towards the poor. Many could say his experience at the blacking factory was the most influential factor in the writing Oliver Twist.

In Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens criticises the new Poor Law of 1834. This law was introduced because of the increase of the population due to the industrial revolution. Parishes were responsible for looking after the poor, but the sudden increase of the poor made it too overwhelming for parishes to look after everyone. The Poor Law itself was made to help and assist the unfortunate until they got a suitable and legal way of income. However the system had grave faults.

People without any means of income to survive on such as the unemployed, penniless, mentally ill and disable were sent the treacherous workhouses. Workhouses were actually designed so that they would be a miserable place to be. This would lead people to be independent and harder working in order to avoid being sent to the workhouse. The workhouse was a very intolerant place and had a sharp set of rules and relegations. Meals were very minute and were eaten in total silence.

Families were spilt apart according to their gender or age. Women were on one side of the building and men were on the other side. Also children were separated from adults. Infants and toddlers were sent to a place called baby farms. All dwellers of the workhouse were forced to work hard long hours.

He tries to point out how unfairly the poor were treated by the wealthy in Victorian England. Also how the affluent weren’t so perfect, Dickens introduces in the character of Mr Bumble and the members of the board, through satire and sarcasm.

Oliver Twist is about a boy who was brought up by the parish and becomes an orphan because his mother dies during his birth. He gets in a lot of trouble in the workhouse and then in the next “home” he is sent to. He then runs away to London were he gets into a gang of petty thieves. Charles Dickens is the best candidate, because of his earlier life to write a story like Oliver Twist, to draw attention to how the poor lived. For Charles Dickens it is imperative to create sympathy for Oliver because it touches peoples’ emotions and generates empathy for the condition of the poor in his society. But he also creates irony and is very sarcastic with the language he constructs. I think he does this so it doesn’t seem so unpleasant to the mind but contacts the conscience and makes people think twice and look in between the lines.

In chapter one of Oliver Twist we discover that Oliver is treated as if he was not human and only a mere item. Dickens doesn’t use this name once in the opening paragraphs but refers to him as an ‘item of mortality’ or a ‘burden that has been imposed upon the parish’. This automatically tells us he has dehumanised Oliver. Mortality means that were all destined to die, so to introduce Oliver with such a word may show that death is never to far away from Oliver.

Also during Oliver’s birth the doctor and nurse are both incredibly inconsiderate and pay...
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