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How effectively does Charles Dickens use language to portray 19th century London society in his novel Oliver Twist?

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Introduction

NAME: AMJAD CLASS: S.R.4.F SUB: ENGLISH LANGUAGE /LITERATURE COURSE DATE: Q) How effectively does Charles Dickens use language to portray 19th century London society in his novel Oliver Twist? Oliver Twist, one of the most inspiring and legendary novels in English literature, is considered by many old as well as contemporary critics to be a satirical novel mocking the Victorian epoch. Written by Charles Dickens one of the greatest novelists of his genre, the story gives us a deep insight into the Victorian England in the 19th century. Charles Dickens gives a clear picture of the Londoners through the various characters, his moving language and his realistic setting .The novel contains many classical Dickinsian themes-grinding poverty, desperation, fear, temptations and the eventual triumph of good in the face of grave adversity, which Dickens had fought almost all his life for. Dickens childhood experiences with the English legal system make him a life-long representative of the poor. More over he is considered to be a champion in the eyes of the third class citizens, as he has given voice to those with no voice. Through the novel Dickens attacks the hypocrisy of the legal system, the workhouses and the middle class moral values of England in the 19th century. Although the novel is full of satirical humor it has a strong undertone of bitter criticism of the attitudes towards the poor Victorian middle and lower class. Dickens himself was a victim of the hypocrisy of the system since his family was in debt Dickens was forced to work in a factory since the age of twelve .His unhappy experiences tormented him for the rest of his life .The novel effectively echoes the humiliation and resentment of young Dickens who was a victim of child labor. He worked hard in the terrible conditions of the Warren Blacking Company in order to support his family. Oliver Twist wanders through Victorian society as the child of fortune or misery, depending on the attitude of those he meets ...read more.

Middle

that they appeared even a danger to themselves. The Victorian middle class assign all humanities lower qualities, to the poor, whom they considered as 'criminals', 'filthy' and 'savage' .The fat, well fed, round faced Board members treat Oliver without any sensitivity or care. They are viewed as a contrast to the poor orphans who were, "Desperate with hunger reckless with misery." It shows us the hypocrisy of the Londoners and expose the truth that the children were made to suffer while the workhouse masters led comfortable, healthy lives. They call him a "savage "who is destined for the "gallows." Any act however trivial was viewed with extreme concern and dire predictions of the evil they will bring about in society if they survived, and this almost makes us feel that they were doing their best to ensure that these orphans would not survive. When Oliver is sold to Mr.Sowberry the undertaker and upon being introduced to the undertaker's wife, she immediately seems to view Oliver in a bad way because of where he is from, "I see no saving in parish children...for they always cost more to keep, than they're worth." It seems that almost everybody at this time makes sweeping generalizations about orphans from poor backgrounds. After Oliver's request for food, he was subjected to public flogging in front of the other boy's at meal times, "And there in sociably flogged as a public warning and example," to serve as a reminder and to make sure that other young orphans did not make the same mistake. Physical punishment was also inflicted upon him, as he was, "kicked into the apartment." He was also subjected to isolation in his "apartment." Being "denied the benefit of exercise, the pleasure of society; or the advantages of religious consolation." And as a means of getting rid of a troublesome wretch Oliver twist is sent to Mr.Sowberry, and there when Oliver is given his first meal (of cold scraps), which should have been for the dog, the way ...read more.

Conclusion

Oliver gets a taste of good treatment for the first time only in Mr.Brownlow's house as-"These were the happy days of Oliver's recovery. Every thing was so quite, and neat, and orderly, every body so kind and gentle, that after the noise and turbulence in the midst of which he had always lived, it seemed like heaven it self. Mr.Brownlow's house was a contrast to the underground world as even his study was: " A little back room quite full of books, with a window looking into some pleasant little gardens." The pleasant and neat place was in contrast to Fagin's den. A second contrast to the underground world is the Maylies .The characters who inhibit the world of the Maylies are in direct contrast to the criminal underworld of London. Mrs Maylie is kind and compassionate and does not hesitate in caring for Oliver when he arrives, seriously injured, on her doorstep after the bungled burglary .All the characters connected with the Maylies especially Mr. Losberne, the doctor, and Harry Maylie, are all pleasant and worthy people, showing a sympathetic kindness toward Oliver and actively helping in restoring his birthright to him. Nancy and Oliver Twist represents the inmate in spite of the misery of the workhouse and the moral degradation of the underworld has very strong values and ideals at no stage do you find Oliver Twist doing something that is morally wrong or that which goes against his conscience. His is an example of the triumph of nature over nurture. Nancy a couple of decade's ago was possibly like Oliver Twist. Her innate goodness was submerged in the corruption and decay of the under world. Nancy' is an example of how nature collapses under the power of nurture. What Dickens is showing through the novel is that the poor are not criminals. They are not bad or evil. They are people with much capacity for goodness but sadly society represented by the Bumbles and Manns never gave them a chance this is why Dickens in his description of the underworld refrains from being so bitterly sarcastic about them. ...read more.

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