• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Charles Dickens uses Oliver Twist to make social comments on attitudes towards crime and poverty in 19th century England. With particular reference to chapters one and two show how he achieves this.

Extracts from this document...


Title: Charles Dickens uses Oliver Twist to make social comments on attitudes towards crime and poverty in 19th century England. With particular reference to chapters one and two show how he achieves this. Charles Dickens uses satire and irony in the novel 'Oliver Twist' to show his views on the controversial 'New Poor Law of 1834', and the corrupt workhouse system, 'What a noble illustration of the tender laws of this farrowed country! They let paupers sleep!' the poor law seemed to make poverty a crime with only the most desperate of the poor resorting to the grim and depressing conditions of the workhouses. The Rich view the law as a good law believing that the poor are poor because they are bone idle and lazy, when normally they are a victim of circumstance. They also thought that this law made them look more "liberal". Dickens satirises them to great effect, managing to keep his views on the poor and produces a book adored by the 19th century reader. Dickens himself thinks that 'the law is a ass, a idiot' and he shows the 19th century readers this through the main figure of the eyes of a blameless and honest person called Oliver. Dickens made the reader focus on the prejudice and hatred that the rich had for the poor 'a gentleman in a white waistcoat said he was a fool', showing the impersonal ways of the workhouse system. Crime is committed due to poverty, arguments, evilness in people and misunderstandings, it was believed by the rich that poverty is why stealing and burglary crimes are committed so trying to do away with poverty would reduce stealing crimes in the 19th century. In the 19th century the public's favourite novels and theatrical styles a melodramatic. Dickens, knowing this, produced a satirical and melodramatic piece for the masses. Not exactly a vicious diatribe against the system but the public liked it and he kept readers wanting the next part in the 'Oliver Twist' serial. ...read more.


'Oliver Twist' begins with a focus on poverty and no hope. Very little happens to advance they story because of Dickens's diatribe and satire is showing the reader his views. Oliver is born and has little hope of surviving, Dickens refers to him as a 'item of mortality' suggesting that the child has such a small chance of even living and then writing 'it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether the child would survive to bear any name at all' proving his minute chances of existing and showing the impersonality of the workhouse system. He also adds humour to Oliver's difficulty in starting to breathe with irony 'The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration - a troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered it necessary to our easy existence'. After his first few signs of living he his referred to as a 'burden' being imposed. His mother's last wish is to 'Let me see the child, and die.' Dickens is Showing the reader how bad births of babies must be, one thing normally dies whether it's the baby or the mother. The nurse there is drinking from a green bottle which is probably gin, the doctor and the nurse don't really care, the doctor and the nurse just want to take their pay and go home. The nurse later says '...when she has lived as long as I have, sir, and had thirteen children of her own, and all on 'em dead except two...' Dickens is showing us the terrible birth rates they had in the 19th century. Oliver's mother dies, 'they talked of hope and comfort. They had been strangers too long.' This shows just how bad her chances were and also how bad life is in the workhouses. They refer to Oliver as 'it' which shows how impersonally they treat people at the workhouses, even at a young age. ...read more.


The boys polished them with their spoons till they shone again' here Dickens is telling the reader how bad conditions were for the poor children. 'The master aimed a blow at Oliver's head with the ladle, pinioned him in his arms, and shrieked for the beadle' they give the boys enough food to live on, why should they let one have the cheek to ask for more? Dickens is attacking the system here about its lack of food for the poor; it wouldn't even cost much to supply an extra bowl of gruel to each child. Never the less Oliver was put into confinement and five pounds was offered for and man or women that would take him off the parish's hands. Dickens is showing us how badly children in poverty were treated in the 19th century. This would make the reader think about how they treat children stuck in poverty. In the novel 'Oliver Twist' Dickens uses violent diatribe throughout the first two chapters to show his views on the workhouse system and the 'New Poor Law of 1834'. He does this by using characters as his mouthpiece against the workhouse system and the 'New Poor Law of 1834'. During the first two chapters Dickens does little to advance the story. Dickens's diatribe would make the 19th century reader think about what he is doing to help the poor people enveloped in poverty. Also anyone who was in a position of power could have had his opinions about the poor changed and because he would have been in a position of power he could have his opinions heard. Dickens also shows us that the system fails mainly because of the Selfishness, greed and the evil in the people who affected what happened in the system. Dickens also shows us that if they got rid of those people's selfish and evil traits then fewer people would have had to suffer and the people in poverty could climb out of the poverty hole and stand on their own two feet. Ross Horn 10.6 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Oliver Twist section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Oliver Twist essays

  1. Two chapters of "Oliver Twist" examine how Charles Dickens criticises Victorian society for its ...

    Throughout this chapter, Dickens challenges the charitable organisations run by the church and government. The people who ran these institutions believed that poverty is the consequence of laziness and that the dreadful conditions in which they were forced to live would inspire them to better themselves.

  2. How does Dickens criticise the 1834 poor law in the first five chapters of ...

    whilst the grieving family sat outside in the rain waiting for them. Another example of black humour is in the third chapter where the board and Mr Gamfield are haggling over the 'price' of Oliver, again this links to the idea of Oliver being treated like an animal.

  1. Oliver Twist

    He realises that he can't escape and tries to make take one more chance at it. Then he sees Nancy's ghost which puts him in shock, and he staggers and accidentally kills himself. Bill is always nasty with Nancy and bosses her about and tells her what to do.


    It wasn't long before Oliver was dressed in the clothes that were going to start him off in life as a parish orphan. 'But now that he was enveloped in the old calico robes, which had grown green and yellow in the same service, he was badged and ticketed, and

  1. How does Charles Dickens create sympathy for Oliver Twist in the first four chapters?

    Oliver Twist had born ill by a young woman who walks into a workhouse, with no information about her life, dies soon after delivery. He seemed unfit and the figures of authority thought he died. Dickens makes his readers understand that perhaps death would have been a better option for him.

  2. How does Dickens show the social injustices of Victorian England in the opening of ...

    the word deposited shows the baby is not very well handled and the choice of the word it shows that the baby isn't considered important because she didn't say him or her. Oliver's mum looks up and instantly talks about dying and straight away the surgeon says 'oh, you must

  1. To show how Charles Dickens presents Good and Evil characters

    However, it is Mr Bumble who is cold and heartless for not realising the orphans are hungry. He feels the children already receive too many comforts from the workhouse. Given that Mr Bumble opposes the Christian ethoss of the parish, he is presented as a misanthropist who is violent and evil through his description and actions.

  2. In Oliver Twist Dickens Uses Environment to Reflect Feelings, In The Lord of The ...

    This excerpt demonstrates that the good part of the assembly cannot be reached, because it is too difficult to go against the evil, which is so easy to get caught up in. The environment affects Simon because he is dragged along against his will, with things going out of control.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work