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How does Dickens criticise the 1834 poor law in the first five chapters of Oliver Twist ?

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Introduction

English coursework How does Dickens criticise the 1834 poor law in the first five chapters of Oliver Twist ? Dickens criticised the 1834 poor law in many different ways within the first five chapters. He does this firstly by cleverly portraying the Victorians attitudes towards the poor. He does this in chapter 1 by referring to Oliver as 'the item of mortality' suggesting how lowly his position in society is. Also the difficulty of Oliver's birth and the fact his mother dies, gives us some idea of the dangers of child birth in Victorian society and the amount of negligence his mother receives from the surgeon. Another way he shows the attitudes towards the poor is by describing the unfeeling and clearly drunk nurse who was 'tasting in the corner' instead of taking care of Oliver and his dying mother. ...read more.

Middle

The care she gives is described by Dickens sounds more like abuse as he lists cases of infants dying from hunger or sheer neglect. His criticism extends from the actual carer to the authorities that are supposed to keep check on how the new law is implemented , but their reports amount to nothing. Dickens also describes Mr Bumble with apparent glee as this pompous, fat and self important man who is literally living off the poor. The significance of Oliver's characterisation is important because he is described as 'reckless with misery' suggesting that his life and possibly other peoples lives are so awful that they could be convinced to do anything e.g. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is even a case of black humour in the first chapter when Oliver's mother dies while the surgeon is quietly warming his hands by the fire. This shows he is eager to leave the scene so he can earn some money from his paying customers. By criticising the 1834 poor law in this way he was hoping to reveal the shocking true nature of the poor peoples lives. He was motivated to do this because at the time when the poor law was introduced he was a typist in the houses of parliament and could see what was happening to these people. He also felt that he should show his audience the sinister things that happened to the poor and also the little options they had, which were; starve to death or work in the workhouse. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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