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Compare the ways in which at least two of the texts you have studied explore the theme of social deviance. You will need to specify what this deviance consists in, and give details of how the Victorian social norms are transgressed.

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Introduction

Compare the ways in which at least two of the texts you have studied explore the theme of social deviance. You will need to specify what this deviance consists in, and give details of how the Victorian social norms are transgressed. Like any novel depicting the theme of social deviance, the basis of the text is taken from the social and political climate's that are appropriate to the time that the text is written. Indeed, during Queen Victoria's reign, the social alienation of the working class as well as societies prejudices towards women helped to spawn literature that exhibited the other side of the so called 'coin', with stories that challenged the general social perceptions of these ostracised groups. These concepts that questioned Victorian social 'norms' are best illustrated in the texts Oliver Twist and Jane Eyre, with both texts producing manifestations through the stories protagonists of attitudes that don't conform to the expected traits of either the working class or women. Furthermore, both Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte draw parallel's in their respective texts to aspects of their own lives by reflecting the prejudices that they personally incurred whilst growing up in Victorian Britain. ...read more.

Middle

However, the significance of these episodes is not only that they show higher-societies contempt for the lower class, but also that they help to display the attitudes of the respective protagonists within these challenging environments. The use of the 'restrictive' imagery in the cited extracts, and the noble and intelligent reactions to this harsh treatment that each protagonist gives, in my opinion enables Dickens and Bronte to produce a critique of the working classes vigour in a social context which contrasts higher-societies pre-conceived judgements of the working class as 'useless'. By voicing the opinions that the lower class are only 'helpless' because the social infrastructure of the Victorian age did not allow them to break away from their working class shackles, both authors transgress social norms by presenting Oliver and Jane as socially deviant to this general public perception. I am running away. They beat and ill-use me, Dick; and I am going to seek my fortune some long way off, I don't know where. (Oliver Twist p.56) The theme of slavery and restriction is further highlighted by Jane's opinion of marriage, through the presentation of Cassy's relationship with Simon ...read more.

Conclusion

What was Oliver's horror and alarm as he stood a few paces off, looking on with his eye-lids as wide open as they would possible go, to see the Dodger plunge his hand into this old gentleman's pocket. (Oliver Twist p.76) Some may argue the point that Oliver's noble disposition is due to the fact that he is in fact a member of the upper classes because he gains the family inheritance, however, further credence is added to Dickens argument that intelligence and nobility is not restricted to the upper classes through his portrayal of Nancy. As if to eliminate any uncertainties regarding the intelligence of the working class, Dickens places Nancy in the position of a prostitute - one of the most socially condemned positions of Victorian times - and yet through Nancy displays the most noble act of the novel when she sacrifices her own life to save Oliver. 'Those were his words,' said Nancy, glancing uneasily round, as she scarcely ceased to do since she began to speak, for a vision of Sikes haunted her perpetually. (Oliver Twist p.335) Oliver's presentation as almost 'angelic' is the binary opposite to that of Fagin. ...read more.

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