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

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Introduction

How effectively does Charles Dickens use language to portray 19th century London society in his novel "Oliver Twist"? In the 19th century England was transforming into a heavy industrialized country. The industrial revolution caused many changes to the people living in rural areas. There was a great exodus from the villages to cities because of rapid industrialization. Many people lost their jobs and had to populate the streets of London. People who lived in the dirty streets of London had little choices in life and many of them joined the criminal world, while others had to cope with the poor conditions of the workhouses. The differences of lifestyle between the lower and upper classes were sharp. The poorer sections of society had little food and were plagued by famine and dirt. The upper class lived comfortable lives and enjoyed luxuries that the lower classes had not even laid eyes on. Their comfortable lives caused them to be ignorant of the burden that the poor people had to shoulder; this inevitably caused social unrest in Victorian London as the richer people looked down at the lower class as born outlaws. The novel "Oliver Twist" is about an orphan who wanders through Victorian society facing both misery and fortune. Oliver was a child endowed with natural goodness and an instinct for survival. He fights against committing evil actions to establish his identity in Victorian society. Charles Dickens, in his famous novel "Oliver Twist" criticizes London society, He criticizes the workhouses that the "paupers" had to live in. He shows that middle class people such as Mr. Bumble and Sowerberry are insensitive to the feelings of the poor, and he shows the readers the horrors of living a criminal life, which some people had resorted to. Dickens uses great detail when describing events in his novel. This descriptive writing makes the novel seem very realistic and maintains the interest of the reader. ...read more.

Middle

Once again Dickens uses sarcasm by describing the workhouse masters as being full of "wisdom" and knowing what "was good for children". Through this sarcasm, Dickens manages to punch the message to the reader about how cold hearted the middle-class was. Mrs. Mann and Mr. Bumble are careless about the death of 2 children. When Mr. Bumble asks Mrs. Mann how the orphans were, Mrs. Mann says "they are as well as they can be ... except the two that died last week. And little Dick" We see here Dickens use of irony to make them look evil and uncaring. This image of the middle classes is further enhanced when Mr.Bumble immediately describes little Dick as "vicious, bad-disposed". The tone in which Mrs. Mann and Mr. Bumble speak doesn't reflect any sorrow towards little Dick on their side either. Dickens manages to instill anger in the minds of the readers towards these uncaring and careless middle class citizens. Oliver Twist is given to Mr. Sowerberry as an apprentice Mr. Sowerberry is an undertaker and belongs to the lower-middle-class section of society. Young Oliver Twist is given a hostile welcome by Mrs. Sowerberry. Poignant language is used in the dialogue when Mrs. Sowerberry says that the parish children "cost more to keep than they're worth" Dickens purposely uses such quotes to show the people the attitudes of the middle class people towards the poor and the orphans. Mrs.Sowerberry doesn't regard Oliver's opinions. She tells him that he would sleep among the coffins and that "it doesn't much matter whether" he minds or not. When Oliver hears the mention of meat, his eyes glisten. He devours the cold bits which were put by for a dog. Dickens tells the readers that he wishes a well-fed philosopher "could have witnessed the horrible avidity with which Oliver tired the bits asunder" Such graphic language such as "horrible", "avidity" and "asunder", the reader gets a clear understanding about the extent of hunger that the poor had to bear. Mr. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dickens has filled the novel with incidents and characters that are true to life. Dickens does not merely convey a story but he also comments on it. This way Dickens works his way through the readers' minds. He descriptively portrays the distorted society of London through the use of various linguistic devices such as satire, irony and sarcasm. Dickens's point of view is highly respectable as he had lived in London since he was at the age of 10 and has experienced a harsh life in London. By reading Oliver Twist we gain a great deal of knowledge about London society. We learn that life was full of hardships for the lower class people. We learn that being born poor in London in the 19th century is one of the most unfortunate things that can happen to one individual, and we are made aware of the huge gap there was between the upper and the lower classes. The novel "Oliver Twist" has enlightened me on the social unrest that existed in the 19th century in England. It has also made me understand the level of torture that many poor people in this world go through every day just to be able to survive to the next day. Dickens' division of the social classes is still relevant even till today. Most criminals have grown up in an environment of utter poverty, just like "The Artful Dodger" in the novel. We also see many rich people in today's world who savage over every penny of money they could get and yet still waste their money on the most meaningless things, giving no regard for the poor people of the world, who as a matter of fact, make out the majority of the planet's population. It is true till today that while one child in Asia is working in a toy factory, another child in Europe is enjoying the toys made. It is sad to say that social problems are here to stay with us until the end of mankind, as it is virtually impossible to please everyone. ...read more.

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