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How effectively does Dickens use language to portray the misery of orphans in the novel 'Oliver Twist'?

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Introduction

Name: Chirag Sabhnani Class: Sr. 4F Date: 10TH March 2003 Subject: English Language. Oliver Twist Course Work ________________________________________________________________________ Q. How effectively does Dickens use language to portray the misery of orphans in the novel 'Oliver Twist'? Ans. Orphans in the 19th century were children who have had no parents and required special effort to develop and are "left to the tender mercies of churchwardens and overseers." They were "juvenile offenders", "culprits" who were not shown any mercy. They were mistreated, abused, isolated, bullied and neglected by various sections of society. These children were "pitied by no one", "despised by all," kept "half starved" and were never respected in society. They were the victims of betrayal and disloyalty, were called "dirt of society." 'Oliver Twist' is the story of a boy who passes through many difficulties and troubles through life's journey each time becoming stronger from it. The novel fictionalizes the experience of the writer 'Charles Dickens' and reflects the social evils existing in the 19th century. In the book 'Oliver Twist' Dickens brings to life the terrible hardships faced by the orphans at that time. He shows how England's society changes from a slow paced one to a fast paced mechanized one, where the typical rule applies- the poor becoming poorer and the rich becoming richer. As a boy Dickens suffered economic security and humiliation. At the age of twelve he was sent to earn money to support his family, he worked in a factory and earned about six shillings in a week. He was also sent away to live with other unwanted children. "Those few month for Dickens were a time of complete misery, humiliation and despair. The memory of which, as he confessed later, he could never quite shake off." These childhood experiences of Dickens have been transferred into the early pages of the novel 'Oliver Twist', where we see the feeling of desperation that the author had experienced as a child. ...read more.

Middle

doesn't turn me out doors to wander in the streets again, let me stay here and be a servant. Don't send me back to that wretched place from where I came from. Have mercy upon a poor boy, sir!" this quote shows us the extent of Oliver's fear and show his extreme insecurity that made him plea in this way in front of Mr. Brownlow. From the day he was born, no one valued his life and showed compassion to him. It is through Oliver's emotional suffering that we truly understand the extent of misery endured by orphans of the 19th century. Oliver in his wretched condition is continually pitied throughout the book, and his constant outburst of emotions and pleading makes the readers feel sorry for him. Through the examples and phrases from the book we realize that they the orphans were always victims of harsh treatment and foul language as they are always insulted. "Oliver fell on his knees and joining his palms together, prayed that they would stare, beat him, kill him if they pleased -rather then send him away, with that dreadful man", here we witness two admirable qualities of Oliver. We see his innocent nature, where he would rather die then go with the man in question. We also see his faith and realize that he is emotionally scared. We find Oliver who has been rejected by society and by man in general, turns towards God for support as no one other then God helps or even listen to him or the other lonely orphans. Dickens gives him those qualities so that he could acquire sympathies and thus make Oliver's sufferings all the more intense. Criticism at this point could be author's overuse of exaggeration where he dramatizes Oliver's misfortunes. Oliver experienced dreadful cruelty, and Dickens is ruthless in showing that to his readers. But I just don't believe that a boy who had Oliver's upbringing until the age of 10, a boy who'd experienced such hardship would be quite the boy Dickens describes. ...read more.

Conclusion

He often uses this technique to show to his readers the hypocrisy that existed among the people at that time when he wrote the book. Oliver Twist is a third person narrative book in which the author comments on the progress of characters through the text. He brings to life the ill treatment the orphans received which not only destroyed the childhood of the orphans but also affected their adult lives, taking the character of "Nancy" and "Bill Sikes" into consideration; who are drawn by poverty into a world of crime where they became victims of criminal activities. Even though "Nancy" shows she has a capacity of goodness she feels she is trapped into a certain way of behavior. The novel portraying different themes of crime, poverty, loneliness, chance, temptation and fear has left a lasting impression in my mind proving that the author has deep insight for human nature, though which I learn about innocent children's feelings who do not get what they deserve, and are set back from achieving a promising future as he/she has no identity in society. Oliver's character is very inspirational, his and the other orphans struggles convince me that we youngsters do have the potential of surviving even the greatest of difficulties From the book "Oliver Twist" I realize the consequences of being an orphan and I thank God for giving me such good parents, without whom may be I wouldn't be complete, for I wouldn't be able to bare harsh treatments as I am not used to it. I pity those orphans in the 19th century who lived such terrible lives. It is certain that the orphans of the 21st century live in a better environment and are not ill treated by their caretakers and sum day these orphans will grow up to be someone highly regarded. It is frightening to even think of how these orphans might grow up, what their future would end up like no one knows. After reading about these orphans I realize the importance of parents, how valuable they are in order to make our lives successful. Page -1- ...read more.

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