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How are the opening chapters of Oliver Twist effective to the novel as a whole?

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How are the opening chapters of 'Oliver Twist' effective to the novel as a whole? The all-time classic Oliver Twist was originally published as serial instalments in the Bentley's Miscellaneous paper from 1837-1839 although in book form it was published in 1838. Dickens publications were aimed at the more wealthy readers to highlight the problems of poverty. Dickens wanted the rich to pity the poor because he had once been acquainted with the harsh reality of poverty life. His father was imprisoned for bankruptcy when Dickens was twelve. Dickens was then forced to work for the family to have some income. London in the nineteenth century was overcrowded because too many families were moving to the city from the countryside to find work, and there were not enough jobs available. The only thing that came out of this was poverty, this was the beginning of an even more polarised society; the government (in an attempt to solve the problem of streets been lined with poor people) introduced workhouses along with the poor law amendment act of 1834. In workhouses, the conditions were terrible, this was on purpose so that only really desperate people would use them as it was the rich that paid for them. ...read more.


During the book many statements are made implying that if he isn't an animal, he's an animalistic human being. I think the reason Dickens' wanted the circumstances to change in London was because when Dickens was twelve his father had been jailed for bankruptcy causing Dickens to be forced into working life. Dickens wanted to shock his wealthy readers with the disgusting truth the poor had to endure. Like in chapter one when Oliver's mother says "Let me see the child and die" this makes the reader feel very sad indeed because she is obviously a good character and being killed off thus causing the reader to feel sympathetic. In the first chapter Dickens attacks the poor law amendment act of 1834 which renewed the importance of the workhouse as means of relief for the poor. However, the conditions prevailing in the work houses were dismal and the management were insensitive to the feelings of the inmates; Dickens makes the opening chapters very interesting by using mysterious plots such as when Dickens brings up Oliver's mother when the doctor asks "Where did she come from?" This is one of the many plot-twists in the novel. ...read more.


The baby farm is portrayed as a dirty, crowded with babies who were not shown any love or affection in their infanthood. Later in the story it shows us how Oliver is taken in by the head of a criminal gang - Fagin, he is practically forced into the life of crime, in fact he isn't even aware he's doing anything wrong! He enjoys the "handkerchief game" they "play" innocently unaware that he is being prepared to steal and when Oliver finally does realise what he's doing is wrong he backs out however is accused of stealing and this all leads into him being taken in by Mr. Brownlow. An affluent character introduced to not make all wealthy people seem evil and uncaring. I have now analysed the plot, the characters and how they are portrayed, the themes and the settings to show how the opening chapters of Oliver Twist are effective to the novel as a whole. I think this story was both intriguing and interesting, it creates imagery that spurs us to read on and not put the book down, I think this is some of Dickens best work. Unfortunately it had no effect whatsoever on his readers and the conditions didn't change although I thoroughly applaud Dickens' efforts. His sarcasm never failed to disappoint! By Sophie Elsworth ...read more.

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