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Using Chapters I to XVII of Oliver Twist, Discuss the Various Presentations of Deprivation

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Introduction

Using Chapters I to XVII of Oliver Twist, Discuss the Various Presentations of Deprivation Oliver Twist was a novel written by Charles Dickens to underline the cruelty that children suffered at the hands of society. Before the book was written, a 'poor' law was written that attempted to stamp out this cruelty. Perhaps the greatest statement that Oliver Twist makes is that attitudes do not change instantly once a law is passed and that it takes time. This fact is ever present throughout the novel. Oliver was born in a workhouse near London. His mother was ill during his birth and died shortly after he was born and there was no knowledge of a father so he became an orphan, leaving him in the care of the town parish. He stayed at a 'branch-workhouse', situated three miles from the main workhouse. Here, his mistreatment started. The "elderly female" in charge of this workhouse was responsible for the welfare of twenty to thirty orphans. She received sevenpence-halfpenny a week for each "small head" that she was looking after. However, "she knew what was good for children; and she had a very accurate perception of what was good for herself." The woman- Mrs. Mann, kept most of the money for herself and spent as little as possible on the boys. ...read more.

Middle

Ha! ha! ha!" However, Oliver was not sold to that man as he pleaded with the magistrates not to let him go with such a mean man. Oliver was returned to the workhouse, before at last being sold to Mr. Sowerberry, a local undertaker, who seemed a kind man. 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 generalisations about orphans from poor backgrounds. Then, when Oliver is given his first meal (of cold scraps), his famine is further noticeable when he devours the lot in the space of a few minutes. ".....the horrible avidity with which Oliver tore the bits asunder with all the ferocity of famine." Even a charity boy, Noah Claypole, who works with Mr. Sowerberry takes an immediate dislike towards Oliver upon meeting him and views Oliver as the dirt upon the sole of his shoe. He takes to ordering Oliver around, appropriately labelling him 'Work'us' and aims kicks at him whenever he is within range. He also continually insults Oliver on his background. "Neither his father nor his mother will ever interfere with him. ...read more.

Conclusion

The man that had been robbed, Mr. Brownlow, took pity upon Oliver and took him in to look after him as Oliver had fallen ill. The illness was probably the result of the long journey to London, which he had undergone on foot. In contrast to his previous experiences, Oliver was well looked after, fed and cared for. He lay in bed for a few days, being nursed on and checked and fed regularly. All this, against what would most probably have been the case of neglection at the workhouse and death quickly afterwards. In summary, because of his background and situation, Oliver was taken advantage of time and time again. It seems that children were shown no mercy and used for financial and personal gain. Mrs. Mann, the Board and Fagin all tried to use Oliver to increase their own quality of life and boost their financial income. This shows how cruel and ruthless situations were and the social deprivation that Oliver was forced through, like so many other orphans. Conditions were harsh for those at the bottom end of the social ladder and Dickens illustrates this well throughout the novel, as well as offering a contrast to these conditions with the rich Mr. Brownlow and his kind and generous personality. Along the way, he was the only person that showed trust of any kind towards Oliver and offered him a chance to repay that trust, which eventually he did. Neil Christie 10N English Studies-Oliver Twist 12/01/00 ...read more.

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