Romanticism In Oliver Twist

1701 Words7 Pages
Introduction: In mid-19th century England, realistic literature came as a response to the preceding romantic period. The romantic period was known to emphasize the experiences of the individual and was regarded as a highly aesthetic period. It was related with the movement of sensibility or sentimentalism, which stressed the importance of emotions and feelings of sympathy (Kitson 328-329). Contrarily, realism during the Victorian age aimed to address economic and social issues in society by depicting the struggles in the developing society as accurately as possible (Redd). Consequently, in the 1830s, when Charles Dickens was writing Oliver Twist, it is justifiable that elements of both realism and sentimentalism can be found in the novel. This…show more content…
Most notably, Dickens’ depiction of London (in particular the workhouses and other social institutions) and his criminal characters have a very prominent realistic effect. However before going into detail about the realistic setting and characters, it would be beneficial to take a look at Dickens’ preface for Oliver Twist. In his preface for Oliver Twist, Dickens justifies his reasons for writing about the criminals of London; he had the impression that real thieves and pickpockets were not portrayed correctly in literature during that time. For that reason, he felt that it was necessary to show these crooks as they really were, “for ever skulking uneasily through the dirtiest paths of life” (7). He also believed that doing this would be “a service to society”, and that he “did it as best as [he] could”. He explains that he won’t be writing about appealing and pleasant situations; “…no merry-makings in the snuggest of all possibly caverns, none of the attractions of dress, no embroidery, no lace…” (8). In essence, this preface foreshadows the realistic elements in the novel by telling the readers where to look. Clearly the characters and setting will be portrayed as honestly and truthfully as possible, without overlooking even “one hole in the Dodger’s coat, or one scrap of curl-paper in Nancy’s dishevelled hair” (9) and describing the “cold wet shelterless midnight streets of London; the foul and frowsy dens, where vice is closely packed and lacks the room to turn […]”

More about Romanticism In Oliver Twist

Open Document