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How do the authors Charles Dickens, and David Pelzer depict childhood, in the novels Oliver Twist, and 'A Child called it'?

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Introduction

How do the authors Charles Dickens, and David Pelzer depict childhood, in the novels Oliver Twist, and 'A Child called it'? In this wider reading essay I will be answering how the authors Charles Dickens and David Pelzer depict childhood to be, in the books Oliver Twist and 'A child called it'. Oliver Twist's story begins with his birth in a workhouse. His mother dies shortly after giving birth to him, though long enough to kiss him on the forehead. As an illegitimate workhouse orphan Oliver seems doomed to a life of misery. Though deprived of education, affection and adequate food, Oliver still manages to triumph from rags to riches, when he finally finds happiness with his Aunt Rose Maylie and his guide Mr Brownlow. 'A child called it' is written in the 1st person, unlike Oliver Twist, which is written in the 3er person. In the book Pelzer talks about himself, a severely abused child who survived to tell the tale. As a child David Pelzer's emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother brutally beat and starved him. On a regular basis his mother would play torturous games in order to punish him for petty wrong doings, though usually for no reason at all, games that nearly lead to his death. ...read more.

Middle

In 'A Child called it', David is born into a middle class family, and unlike Oliver Twist stays this status throughout. Oliver Twist starts off in the lowest class and gradually, through coincidences, ends up in a middle class family. Victorian society associates positive qualities with the middle class. Charles Dickens is making the point that Oliver gets social status through luck, and is the same person irrespective of his social standing. He is saying that society is unfair to judge people's characters, by their social class, which is one of the main themes in the book. This cannot be said for 'A Child called it though', and isn't illustrated as being important, which just shows how times have changed in that respect. I will now examine the effects of family life and lifestyle on childhood. Oliver's family only emerges at the end of the novel, though Fagin temporarily takes the place of a father figure. This is shown when Oliver is described as being one of his boys. Mr Brownlow also acts as a substitute dad when he takes Oliver in and looks after him. ...read more.

Conclusion

People eventually take pity on them, they are removed from their injustices, and their quality of life improved. Oliver is exposed to crime many times in the novel, for instance with Fagin and Bill Sike's. One of the main acts with Fagin is when he was sent out with the Artful Dodger and Charlie Bates pick pocketing. Oliver watches in horror as he witnesses Dodger attempting to steal a wallet from a respectable old gentleman, who is later known to be Mr Brownlow. Another memorable time was when Sike's used Oliver's stealth and vulnerability, in one of his schemes to overturn a house, this is later discovered to be that of The Maylies. In both cases there are positive outcomes to the crimes, and they both coincidently bring about characters like Mr Brownlow, and The Maylies, who help to secure Twist's future. After carefully studying the two novels Oliver Twist, and 'A Child called it', I conclude that I prefer the messages conveyed by Dickens. He depicts the unfairness of Victorian society well, especially when it comes to the treatment of children and the lower classes. Whilst 'A Child called it' conveys vividly one individual's poor treatment and experiences, I feel that Oliver Twist contains underlying messages that are still relevant today. By Siobh�n Commins 11E1 ...read more.

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