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How suitably does Charles Dickens portray society's attitude towards under privileged children in the novel 'Oliver Twist'?

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Introduction

How suitably does Charles Dickens portray society's attitude towards under privileged children in the novel 'Oliver Twist'? 'Oliver Twist' is one of Charles Dickens most enduringly popular novels. Best known for his host of distinctively cruel, comic and repugnant characters, Charles Dickens remains the most widely read of the Victorian novelists. 'Oliver Twist', a meek, mild young boy, is born in the workhouse and spends his early years there until, finding the audacity to ask for more food, "Please, sir, I want some more." he is made to leave. Oliver represents the underprivileged children in this novel. Dickens shows us society's attitude towards Oliver and the under privileged children, they were abused, beaten and "brought up by hand." 'Oliver Twist' is a criticism of the workhouses, the judicial system and the criminal world of London society of the time. Dickens use of satire and descriptive style conveys the pain of the unfortunate to the reader. His narrative skills are loaded with biting sarcasm and irony making the novel a chilling revelation of the life of the orphans. Dickens was a lifelong champion of the poor. He himself suffered the harsh abuse visited upon the poor by the English legal system, as he himself was an orphan. In England in the 1830s, the poor had no voice, political or economically. In Oliver Twist, he presents the everyday existence of the lowest characters of English society. He goes far beyond the experiences of the workhouse, extending his depiction of poverty to London's squalid streets, dark alehouses, and thieves' dens, he gives voice to those who had no voice, showing us a link between politics and literature with his language techniques and social commentary. The novel is that of a young individual boy but the suffering and humiliation is universal. Oliver represents all the orphans of the 19th century Victorian England. Oliver's birth is symbolic of his life. His whole life is a struggle. His birth begins a life that is a long tale of woes. ...read more.

Middle

Dickens message here is that wherever or whenever you feel left out there is always someone there for you. So you must never give up hope and belief, just what Oliver needed. But there were very few children like Oliver who found the strength to cling on to their faith. Finally, Oliver limps into a small town just outside London and collapses in a doorway. A boy approaches him about his own age named Jack Dawkins, who dresses and acts like a grown man. Jack purchases a large lunch for Oliver and informs him that he knows a "gentleman" in London who will let Oliver stay in his home for free. Oliver learns that Jack's nickname is "the Artful Dodger." He guesses from the Dodger's appearance that his way of life is immoral. He plans to ingratiate himself with the gentleman in London and then end all association with Jack. Oliver had never seen such a boy as Jack. He had all "the manners of a man", "he wore a mans coat, which reached nearly to his heels" and a "hat which was stuck on his head". He was altogether a roistering and swaggering young man. Jack represents those boys who were introduced to crime at an early age. Dickens shows us that children associated with crime grew up before their time. They did not enjoy the innocence of childhood. That night, the Dodger takes Oliver to a squalid London neighborhood. The Dodger conducts Oliver into a filthy, black back room where an "old shriveled Jew" named Fagin and some boys were having supper. Silk handkerchiefs hang everywhere. The boys smoke pipes and drink liquor although none appear older than the Dodger. Oliver takes a share of the dinner and sinks into a deep sleep. Oliver had to join Fagin's band of thieves to survive. Dickens description of the underworld, tells us that London was a city of contrast. ...read more.

Conclusion

They wait all day for Oliver to awake in order to determine whether he is a bad child or not. Oliver relates his life history to them that evening, bringing tears to the eyes of his audience. Even though Oliver was involved in the robbery the house members did not want to give him up to the police, as they knew he was innocent. Dickens shows us the compassionate and loving attitude Rose Maylie has towards Oliver. She knows what happens to the unfortunate and so supports him. Oliver Twist is a novel that takes the reader through different sections of London society. We are presented with the comfort and luxury of the upper class and the plight and the hardships of the lower class along with the dangers of the underworld. Dickens is a very successful storyteller with effective language skills and creative imagination. Oliver is portrayed as an embodiment of the principle of good who resists all evils in spite of all his challenging circumstances comes out untarnished. Dickens 'Oliver Twist' is not just life like , we feel it is alive because of his extraordinary ability to make us visualize the19th century London. Characters such as Mr.Brownlow, Nancy, Ms. Rose, all give comfort to Oliver's life but filthy characters such Fagin and Sikes never allow Oliver to be in peace. Dickens shows us how society can change the life of a person. The different classes of society all have good and bad. But in the end we know that good prevails over evil. The novel has made me realize that I can survive under any circumstances if I keep hope and keep praying like Oliver did, have more faith. The novel also inspires me as good prevails over evil and always will. The novel is also an eye opener for me as it teaches me to appreciate the comforts of my life as I have a home to live in, love from my parents, food to eat everyday and it teaches me to be more understanding and gentle towards younger people who are less fortunate than me. ...read more.

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