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How Does Charles Dickens Expose Victorian Society's Awful Treatment of Children of the Poor

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Introduction

How Does Charles Dickens Expose Victorian Society's Awful Treatment of Children of the Poor? 'Oliver Twist' is set in Victorian England at a time when the industrial revolution was happening. Businesses were getting bigger and factories were being built by machines. Poor people from the countryside moved into the cities to get jobs for money. However, the people who owned the factories didn't care about the welfare of their workers, as long as they turned up to work. They paid them hardly any money because they wanted money for themselves. This made a lot of people go into poverty. The Poor Law of 1834 was a piece of government legislation that said that poor people could only get help if they went into work houses, where they had to work for extremely long hours for no money and had hardly any food. There was no heating and many people died of diseases and being unhealthy. The authorities made the workhouses like this because they based them on the principle that the people were only poor because they were lazy, and the conditions would teach them a lesson and make them get out of poverty. However, because of the Industrial Revolution this was often impossible, and the workhouses offered no assistance for social or economic betterment. ...read more.

Middle

Mann as Dickens exposes the cruel treatment she gives the children in her care. They would be shocked that people could do that to children. Mr. Bumble came to Mrs. Mann's house one day and told her that as Oliver was nine, he would have to be taken to the main workhouse. " 'Oliver being now too old to remain here, the board have determined to have him back into the house.' " (p7-8). The workhouse doesn't treat the poor people well at all. They aren't fed properly, "They contracted [...] with a corn-factor to supply periodically small quantities of oatmeal and issued three meals of thin gruel a day." (p10). There was no heating, uncomfortable beds and they had to work all day for no pay. Families were also forced to be split up, and husbands and wives divorced so the husband couldn't support the family. "kindly undertook to divorce married people." (p11). Dickens is being ironic again in this sentence. Oliver asks for more food because they aren't given enough and he is desperate. He is also scared because a tall boy said if he didn't get another bowl of gruel a day, he would eat the boy who slept next to him, and Oliver and the others believed him because they are only children. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is ironic that these people are meant to replace parents, because none of them care for him as a mother or father would. Although Fagin is taking care of Oliver, he is representing the corrupt city and the people in it because he is a criminal, and once someone gets into his style of life, they will never get out and they are trapped. Dickens says the corrupt city environment has the power to "blacken [the soul] and change its hue for ever." Once someone goes into the corrupt city, they too will be corrupt forever, like Fagin's cycle of crime. The most unusual family structure is made up of Fagin and his pick pockets, because although Fagin cares for them, keeps them healthy, trains them to what he does to make money, and teaches them to be loyal, he only does it for his own benefits. This 'family' is built around individualism and exploitation, and not out of selfless interest. Oliver experienced cruelty throughout his life in the branch workhouse, workhouse and the apprenticeship at the undertakers. He has been starved, beaten, humiliated and neglected by nearly everyone whose care he has been in. Charles Dickens wrote about the appalling treatment of the children so everyone could read it and know what really goes on in the workhouses. However, Oliver survived it all, and most of the people who were horrible to him were punished. In the end, good will always triumph over evil. ...read more.

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