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With reference to three key passages, explore Dickens's portrayal of the treatment of children in Victorian England in "Oliver Twist".

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Introduction

With reference to three key passages, explore Dickens's portrayal of the treatment of children in Victorian England in "Oliver Twist". You should look at the following: 1. His presentation of authority figures and institutions 2. The treatment of Oliver and how the reader responds to him 3. The ways in which Dickens uses speech and imagery Charles Dickens, the son of John and Elizabeth, was born on the 7th February 1812 in Portsmouth. Dickens had a relatively good upbringing. He began his education at William Giles School. Although this was shortly outlived, as at the age of 12 his father got arrested for bad debt. He was then sent to work at Warren's Blacking factory, where he applied labels to bottles of shoe polish. After this he returned to school but left again at 15. Dickens's first job was as a solicitor's clerk. He then became a reporter for the House of Parliaments. Twenty-five years later, he published his first novel, an immediate success that launched his career. "Oliver Twist" was written in 1837. Its aim was to make the conditions of poor people more apparent. It was also written as a protest against The Poor Law. The Poor Law stated, "No-able bodied person was to receive money or other help from The Poor Law authorities in a workhouse. ...read more.

Middle

The treatment of Oliver and the other boys was particularly harsh. For example the meals provided for them included a bowl of gruel and if they were lucky "two ounces and a quarter of bread besides". At the workhouse they were there to "be educated and learn a useful trade" and to pick "oakum" daily. Oakum is a loose fibre obtained by unraveling old rope, used for filling cracks in wooden ships. There is also an element of peer pressure at the workhouse as Oliver is forced by his fellow peers to as "Please sir, I want some more", he is punished by, the board putting up a for sale sign for him to be brought for " any trade, business or calling". He is then put towards the board to have his position at the workhouse reconsidered. Dickens's uses contrasting irony to give the reader an idea of the real conditions experienced by Oliver in the workhouse. For example, "the system" gives the impression that workhouse children are not denied exercise, social interaction or religious support. Whereas Dickens's ironic description is probably in fact a more accurate account of the actual situation. There was exercise, but only in bitterly cold weather and with the frequent use of a cane to keep them on the move, and all under the watchful eye of Mr. ...read more.

Conclusion

This undercuts his message, as you would expect that because he is an orphan and is in a workhouse he would be rougher and not speak "Standard English", but local dialect. This makes me think that Oliver was born to lie in a middle class background. In comparison to today, children's lifestyles are much more privileged. For example, employment has changed as in Victorian England, children were sent to work from as young as nine. Whereas today the rough age is 14 and they have to work limited hours. The education is also very different as you can legally leave school at 16. There is equality also, as girls have as much right as boys to attend school. Now you do not have to pay to go to school as there are ones provided by the state for free. In Victorian England, parents were expected to pay if they wanted their child/children to attend school. This meant that poorer children did not receive an education, as their parents could not afford the fees. Boys and girls were taught separately so as they could not interact with each other. Toys and entertainment has changed dramatically because technology has developed. Yo-yo's and skipping ropes were more popular in the 1880's but today's entertainment revolves around computers and television. By Deanne Sandiford 11S ...read more.

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