• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Charles Dickens expose Victorian society's awful treatment of the poor?

Extracts from this document...


How does Charles Dickens expose Victorian society's awful treatment of the poor? In my essay I am going to talk about the way Charles Dickens uses Oliver Twist to expose the maltreatment of the poor, by analysing the text. In the early 19th century the industrial revolution started (the building of lots of factories and mills) which drew many countryside paupers into the towns. They hoped for a better life and job, but this was seldom the case because conditions were bad and wages were a pittance even if they were lucky enough to be employed. The owners of the factories got very rich and the workers were extremely poor. The desperately poor unemployed people were rounded up and put into an institution called the workhouse. The local authorities (or parish) ran the workhouses extremely cheaply with inmates only getting enough food to keep them alive. Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist to try and expose this treatment of the poor to his readers. Oliver Twist was extremely unfortunate to be born into the workhouse and the book charts some of his early life. Charles Dickens's intention of chapter one is to describe to his readers the lack of care attitude taken up by workhouse individuals. The surgeon is described indirectly as not possessing profound wisdom: 'If he had been surrounded by doctors of profound wisdom...' Charles Dickens is trying to point out to his readers that the workhouse surgeon is not really up to scratch and also isn't really aware of what is going on: 'The surgeon had been sitting with his face turned towards the fire...' ...read more.


An undertaker called Mr Sowerberry eventually employs Oliver. Although Oliver is probably better off at the undertakers than being sent to sea, he still gets treated badly. 'Cold bits that were put out for Trip' Oliver eats the cold pieces of meat that were put out for the dog. Charles Dickens emphasises that employers gave their apprentices the bare minimum by saying that the meat was for the dog and that the dog hasn't come back since the morning so that is the reason that Oliver even got the dog's food. When Oliver gets fed up with the abuse from Noah Claypole and Mr Sowerberry he makes a decision to run away to London. On his way he passes his old workhouse and sees his friend Dick working in the garden Charles Dickens writes: 'he raised his pale face' Dickens is dropping a hint that Dick is in a poor state of health. In the next paragraph Oliver repeats that Dick is very pale: 'How pale you are' this is exposing what the workhouse does to little children- brings them 'close to death' Dickens tries to horrify the reader on how depressed that Oliver's friend Dick is: 'I dream so much about heaven and angels... kind faces that I never see when I am awake.' Dick is only about seven or eight years old but he is talking about going to heaven whereas if he were a normal happy child he would be thinking about living. ...read more.


I think that Charles Dickens used the name 'Fang' to say a little about the judge's character. The main theme of Oliver Twist is Good v. Evil. The 'good' characters are Oliver, Mr Brownlow and Nancy (To an extent.) Nancy is represented to be a bit good and a bit evil because she is with Bill Sikes who is a robber and has a lot of dealings with Fagin. Fagin, Monks, Bill Sikes, Artful Dodger and Charley Bates are the bad characters. When Oliver first sees Fagin for the first time he is described using images of the devil: 'repulsive face' 'matted red hair.' This tells the reader something about Fagin's character even before he speaks. The Victorians were very religious people and would have picked up on that point immediately. However the first thing that Fagin is described as is 'a Jew.' The Victorians were all Christians apart from very few, and they would probably of hated Fagin because he was a Jew. Bill Sikes is described as 'dirty' and 'bulky' and is dressed in dark clothes. All of these create images of evil and of a nasty man who you would not want to cross. Charles Dickens is informing the reader further on members of Fagin's gang. Overall I think that Charles Dickens does a good job of informing his readers what went on in Victorian society. He has used a variety of methods including the themes of the book (good v. evil, nature v. nurture.) and using typical Victorian characters (Mr Bumble, Mrs Mann, Mr Gamfield ect.) ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Oliver Twist section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Oliver Twist essays

  1. After studying 'Oliver Twist' the reader gains understanding of the true horrors that exist ...

    The faults in the law, such as it being subject to liars, are again highlighted when the novel says: 'Mr. Fagin concluded by drawing a rather disagreeable picture of the discomforts of hanging; and, with great friendliness and politeness of manner, expressed his anxious hopes that he might never be obliged to submit Oliver Twist to that unpleasant operation.

  2. How effectively does Charles Dickens use language to portray 19th century London society in ...

    Here Dickens tell us directly about the people of the society by using descriptive language. He forms a picture in our mind when he says; 'the street was narrow and muddy,' which helps us imagine what exactly the place looked like.

  1. How Dickens exposes awful treatment of children

    was desperate with hunger and reckless with misery,' these are emotive words and you can almost feel Oliver's pain, although in the end maybe it was lucky he was reckless. When Oliver is to be sold the introduction to Gamfield is cunning of Dickens.


    He had not been educated in such things by anyone and by which means was he suppose to know he had to. The board told Oliver that he was to learn a new and useful trade. This was to pick oakum.

  1. Two chapters of "Oliver Twist" examine how Charles Dickens criticises Victorian society for its ...

    This is to further emphasise the difference between the Board and the people they were supposed to be looking after and helping. When Oliver has he audacity to "ask for more." chaos is unleashed. The reaction of the master and the assistants is quite extreme and ridiculous.

  2. How effectively does Charles Dickens use language to portray 19th century London society in ...

    People like Mr. Bumble bumbled through society exerting their power and authority and feel that it is their religious duty to teach the inmates of the workhouse a proper appreciation of their blessings. Mr.Gamefeild who has came to buy Oliver is described by Mr.

  1. In (TM)Oliver Twist(TM)(TM) Dickens presents a powerful critique of Victorian society and its treatment ...

    Dickens made us sympathise for Oliver in chapter two because of how he is treated and because of his physical state, on Oliver's ninth birthday he and 'two other young gentlemen' participate 'with him in a sound thrashing.' A birthday for a nine year old at the time would be

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

    Oliver was very lucky to survive after his birth because he was having difficulty breathing and received no help from either the parish surgeon or the nurse. "He lay gasping on a little flock mattress, rather unequally poised between this world and the next: the balances being decidedly in favour of the latter" (p1).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work