The life in the Victorian age was harsh and extremely difficult for the poor. These people struggled to survive during this era; the main problem was how the children were treated. ‘Oliver Twist’ written by Charles Dickens and published in 1950 shows the reader how the living conditions were for the poor back in the 19th Centaury. ‘Oliver twist’ is a novel about a young orphan boy named Oliver Twist who is exploited, used and put through pain and starvation. Oliver travels from the workhouse in England all the way on foot to Saffron Hill, London. He endures terrible weather, lack of food and water and he is all alone. In London he meets many characters such as Mr Fagin, in London Oliver manages to get himself in all sorts of trouble and remains clueless and confused. The Poor in the Victorian age lived in horrible conditions in the towns, these towns were dirty, over-crowded and polluted, they had small narrow streets and the buildings were extremely cramped. The children in this novel were beaten, abandoned, exploited and forced to work, they were starved, over-worked and had no choice nor say in their fate. Some adults in the novel Oliver Twist were the main source of the problems for these children, these adults would use the children such as Oliver to do all the hard work in factories or out on the streets.
The setting of Saffron Hill, London shows the reader the horrid living conditions in London that the poor had to live in during the 19th centaury. The living conditions for the poor living in urban London were horrible and often dirty polluted and crowded ‘Most wrenched place he’d ever seen’. They were also diseased as there was poor sanitation and low standard of construction, the housing was cramped and so close to one another ‘as he follows dodger through the ‘very narrow and muddy’ streets’. There were people living on the streets and others crammed into housing and apartments with many other families ‘ Children climbing in and out of the windows and the screaming and shouting coming from inside’. The harsh, dirty, over-crowded living conditions would encourage the reader to feel sympathy towards these families and Oliver. This offers readers accurate ideas towards what the living conditions were like for the poor back in this time.
The character of Oliver Twist gives the reader an insight into the horrible ways the orphaned children had to live. The horrid way Oliver was treated throughout this novel was harsh; he was beaten and starved ‘Oliver Twist’s 9th Birthday found him a pale, thin chid, somewhat diminutive in stature and decidedly small in circumference’. He was forced to work and over-worked =, he worked long hours and he was left in the care of the parish or church ‘so you’ll begin to pick oakum tomorrow morning at 6 o’clock’ he was told after being first taken to the workhouse. Oliver along with many other children was forced to work so the parish would provide them with shelter and gruel, but very little ‘Oliver and his companions suffered the tortures of slow starvation for 3 months’. Oliver and these other children had no choice or they’d be out on the streets. The orphan children of the 19th centaury were treated poorly and lived in the worst conditions. These children had not gotten to live like a normal child. They had NO childhood. Oliver and the others were forced to live as if they were grown adults. The effect on the reader would be sorrow and maybe even regret that it was not possible for them to help these poor children and all they went through.
Adults of the Victorian era come in different types of personality such as nice and kind like the old lady and then Deceiving, manipulative and can be users, for example Mr Fagin. This novel ‘Oliver Twist’ gives a good insight into how some adults treated others and how they treated children during this time. In this novel, Mr Fagin is presented as a vey old man when Oliver first meets him ‘standing over them, with a toasting fork in his hand was a very old shrivelled Jew’, Mr Fagin was described as repulsive and dressed in a flannel gown. He was deceptive, lying and manipulating, “Ah, you’re a-staring at the pocket handkerchiefs! Eh, my dear. There are a good many of ‘em, ain’t there. We’ve just looked ‘em out, ready for the wash: that’s all, Oliver, that’s all” with these words Mr Fagin is attempting to tell Oliver that there all his, he brought them, as Oliver does not know any better he believes him, where as the reader should be able to identify that he is trying to cover up the fact they are stolen, this is part of what makes him so horrid. The Adults of the Victorian era were all different, but Mr. Fagin was using the boys for his own benefit. Many adults in this time used and exploited the children. The reader is given a detailed insight into the way some of these adults are and would be presumably disgusted.