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Comment on the portrayal of the Under Classes in 'Oliver Twist'

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Introduction

Comment on the portrayal of the Under Classes in 'Oliver Twist' During the early 1800s a great number of people were living in extreme poverty. Dickens had grown up in a poor family. As his childhood was so awful he wrote the novel 'Oliver twist' as a protest towards the way the poorer community were treated. This period of time was torrid for the underclass population, particularly the children. Orphaned children had only two choices. They could both live and work in workhouses or to live a life of crime. As the poor law was introduced most children were forced into workhouses. Dickens was strongly opposed to this routine. Conditions were abysmal, children were punished severely, ' for a week after the commission of the impious offence.... Oliver remained a prisoner in the dark solitary room.' Eventually the starvation and mental turmoil would turn the children into 'violent social outcasts'. Not only would the children be mentally abused, but the unrelenting workhouses were also extremely violent places to be. As I mentioned children from the poorer community would have two choices. If the children were lucky enough to escape the workhouses then a life of crime would be the only way for them to survive. ...read more.

Middle

So rather than mistreat the children he turns his business of theft into a family with fun and games 'when the breakfast was cleared away.... two boys played at a very curious and uncommon game'. This game involved taking a handkerchief from Fagin's pocket. It was a fun and effective way for the children to practice stealing. This shows that Fagin and the children looked upon this crime in a lighthearted way and had no conscience after stealing from rich upper-class people. So in the same way the upper class disrespected the poor, you could say the poor disrespected the upper class, but had no real means of exploiting them. Dickens' ideas show the poor community had reasons to hate the upper classes, as they were so cruelly mistreated. After days of practising with handkerchiefs Oliver was finally allowed to go on the streets and steal for real. Not all goes to plan though and Oliver is caught in the act. After his accomplishes the dodger and bates flee back to the hideout Fagin quickly becomes aware of the seriousness of this issue. During these events Dickens takes the opportunity to introduce Bill Sikes. ...read more.

Conclusion

He constantly bullies and looks down on Oliver. "...one hundred and forty sixpences! - and all for a naughty orphan which nobody can't love." Although Mr Bumble overpowers Oliver, he is not all that he seems. He acts superior and intelligent, but he frequently misuses words. (Malapropism). He often uses the word "parochial", but not correctly. Dickens uses this technique to show the reader that the rich only feel they are special and of a higher standard than the poor, but in Dickens' opinion they are in no way any different than the lower class, so there fore should not be treated any differently. Dickens' novel condemns the world of the Poor Laws by describing in great detail the life of an orphan, gang of thieves, and other horrors of this type of civilization. Basically Charles Dickens wanted to get the point across that there is no difference between upper and lower class citizens. To do this he makes Mr Bumble sound like a fool, and to create sympathy for the poor he describes the harsh treatment of a magistrate. Charles Dickens felt that people from both classes should have been treated the same, because they weren't he wrote this novel as a protest and to show how the under classes were the same as anybody else, but were just brutally discriminated against. ...read more.

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