Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist Essay

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Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist

The novel Oliver Twist is a criticism of the cruelty that children and poor people suffered at the hands of 19th century society. It was
Dickens first novel written under his own name when he was 24 years old and in it he already reveals his sharp, but comic comments and criticism. From the start Dickens makes it clear to the reader that poor people and the children of poor people; most especially a baby born illegitimately; were of no consequence in the 1900s. The first person narrator feels he need not “trouble” himself “as it can be of no possible consequence” to tell us the place or date of Oliver’s birth.
This concept is further revealed when he refers to Oliver as an “item of mortality”
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What he does do he does is gives the reader a very exaggerated picture often presented as a list, so that the ideas move from sarcasm to the ridicules, then the reader finds themselves laughing whilst taking the point in.

Oliver’s survival is described as a “new burden upon the parish”. This is when Dickens picks up his attack, begun in a series of leading articles on the Times and the Poor Law Amendment Act in 1834. This seemed to centralise care for the poor and infirm by taking responsibility away from individual parishes and appointing paid officers to oversee the relief of the poor. Rather than improve conditions Dickens felt poor people suffered more at the hands of these mostly greedy men.

Oliver’s mother dies as soon as she “imprinted her cold white lips passionately” on Oliver’s forehead for the first time. This is a very dramatic way to die and it creates pathos for the new orphan Oliver
Twist. We feel sorry as we have just been told about how much of a chance Oliver has in life as being born in a workhouse is described as
“the most fortunate and enviable circumstance that can possibly fall on a human being”, but we feel even more sorry for the orphan now his mother has died”

When the boys in the workhouse sit down to eat Dickens describes it as a “festive composition”. This suggests there is an excess of fine food, as the word feast comes from festive. Dickens is obviously being sarcastic and we also
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