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

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

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

    This is implicitly emphasises to show the greed of the gentlemen, to the point where they have twice as much food as they need and their workers have less than half of what they need. He also uses ironic authorial comments throughout the novel, which are an effective way of emphasising his own views on Victorian society.


    Mr Gamfield had been interpreted as a kind and generous man, and as the magistrates were old and frail men pretty much everything got passed them. When Oliver first entered the room the old men were not formal and professional, as you would have imagined.

  1. In Oliver Twist Dickens Uses Environment to Reflect Feelings, In The Lord of The ...

    He had understood what the beast was - "The beast was harmless and horrible; and the news must reach the other as soon as possible." It is obvious that the build up of the storm has represented and affected, in the boys, a build-up of evil.

  2. Oliver Twist - Board Scene

    he might do if he was too hungry, "Hinted darkly to his companions, that unless he had another basin per diem, he was afraid he might some night happen to eat the boy who slept next to him" this shows the conditions they were in, they were so underfed that it even crossed their minds to eat others.

  1. Explore the ways in which human suffering is portrayed in Charles Dickens' 'Oliver Twist' ...

    The language used in 'Oliver Twist' is also quite difficult to understand as it was written in a different century. The original readers of 'Oliver Twist', Dickens original audience would be able to relate to the language much better. They may also interpret it in different ways to which we interpret it.

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

    This shows us that Dickens cared about the reader. This has already been proved by the fact that he chooses to indulge into London society so much. This is quite important as it makes us appreciate his work even more. The other characteristic that Oliver has been told to have is deceit.

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

    He is also treated inhumanly as Mr Bumble 'gave the little wicket a tremendous shake'. Wicket is a metaphor for Oliver Twist, referring to him as a thin object; he is treated inhumanly as without warning he is shook. Oliver's only crime is being poor.

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

    "He should be despatched to a branch workhouse some three miles out, [...], without the inconvenience of too much food or too much clothing." (p4). It was also very cold and they were neglected and mistreated. "for at the very moment when a child had contrived to exist upon the

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