JohnsonDualCredit English IV18January 2018Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist Charles Dickens is one of thegreatest writers to ever exist and he has entered into the English languagemore than any other writer since William Shakespeare. Charles Dickens is awriter who is original but also expresses and speaks about humanity as a whole.Dickens has entered into the art and served as inspiration for writers likeJoyce, T.S. Elliot, Even Waugh, and George Orwell.
Charles Dickens as a famousexample of a wounded artist. His own personal pains have been shown throughout hiswork over the years. Dickens was born in Land port, Portsea on February 7th1812. He was the second son of John Dickens. His father, John, was sent toprison for owing debt (Hardy 41). “While the rest of the family accompanied hisfather to the workhouse, Dickens was sent to paste labels on bottles in ablacking factory. This experience left him with a bitter and passionateopposition to child labor and inhumane treatment of the poor and is reflectedin the biting sarcasm that animates the early chapters of Oliver Twist” (Bald 1).”Dickens also dealt with stresses in his personal life while working on thenovel.
The many projects he undertook and his unsettled contractualarrangements with various publishers indicate the financial pressures thatDickens faced as a young husband and father establishing himself as aprofessional writer” (Davis 1). Charles Dickens used the troubles of his lifeto give his audience a child hero they could relate to by writing the story ofan orphan named Oliver Twist who lives poverty but doesn’t let that define him. Oliver Twist draws many parallels tothe Victorian Era. Charles Dickens, was one of the important writers to emergefrom the Victorian Era (Hardy 41). “Dickens inspirations for writing OliverTwist were the “Newgate” novels which dealt with criminals, but despite Dickensown tendency towards melodrama, Oliver Twist breaks new ground in moral purposeand realism” (47). Oliver Twist is born in a workhouse in 1830s England.
Hismother is found on the street and dies after Oliver’s birth. Oliver spends thefirst nine years of his life in a badly run orphanage and then he istransferred to a workhouse. The other boys bully Oliver into asking for moregruel at the end of a meal.
Oliver is eventually apprenticed to a localundertaker, Mr. Sowerberry. When the other apprentice makes bad comments aboutOliver’s mother, Oliver attacks him and then he is punished by Sowerberry.
Oliver runs away and travels toward London (Bald1). Outside London, Oliver meets Fagin. Fagin is a career criminal who trainsorphan boys to pick pockets for him. After training, Oliver is sent on a mission.When he sees them take the handkerchief from an elderly person, Oliver is sickenedand runs off. He ends up getting caught but escapes being convicted of thetheft thanks to Mr. Brownlow the man whom lost his handkerchief (2).
Oliverlives in Mr. Brownlow’s home, but when he runs an errand, two members ofFagin’s gang, Bill Sikes and Nancy, capture Oliver and return him to Fagin (Watkin1). Fagin sends Oliver to help Sikes in a burglary. Oliver is shot by a servantof the house and is taken in by the women who live there, Mrs. Maylie and heradopted niece Rose. (Dickens Ch.
23). A man named Monks and Fagin planned on capturingOliver Twist again. It is also revealed that Oliver’s mother left behind a goldlocket when she died. Monks destroys the locket (Ch. 38). Nancy meets secretlywith Rose and tells her Oliver is monks younger brother, but a member ofFagin’s crew overhears the conversation and lets Sikes know, he then brutallymurders Nancy and leaves London.
He has a guilty conscience and is chased by anangry mob, he hangs himself accidently while trying to escape (Bald 2). Mr.Brownlow reunites with Oliver and confronts Monks. He gets the truth aboutOliver’s parentage from him. It is then revealed that Monks is Oliver’s half-brother.
Their father was Mr. Leeford an unhappy man married to a wealthy woman. Monks hasbeen pursuing Oliver all along in the hopes of ensuring that his half-brotheris didn’t get his share of the family inheritance. Mr. Brownlow forces Monks tosign over Oliver’s share to Oliver (Dickens Ch. 51). Then it is discovered thatRose is Oliver’s aunt.
Fagin is hung for his crimes. Mr. Brownlow adoptsOliver, and they retire to a blissful existence in the countryside (Ch. 52). There are two main themes in OliverTwist. The first theme is Child labor. Charles Dickens himself was a childworking at an early age. In Oliver Twist it is seen how children in theVictorian age were put to work most of the day in return for little food, crowdedhomes and zero education.
Dickens shows that the children weren’t being fedwell by having Oliver ask for more food. “When he is chosen by the otherchildren at dinnertime to be their representative to ask for more rations fromthe workhouse authorities, the master responds to the orphan’s piteous request,”Please, sir, I want some more,” by viciously beating Oliver andthrowing him into solitary confinement” (Chlebek). The other main theme is Purityin a Corrupt City. Dickens poses the question of whether bad environments havethe power to blacken the soul and change it forever. The question is answeredwithin the characters of the book. Even Sikes has a conscience after murdering Nancyand begins to be haunted by her eyes. Nancy also shows purity by sacrificing herselffor a child she barely knew (Watkin 3).
Although Nancy is a criminal shebegins to undergo change through the story. “We see some characters doingillegal, nasty, and sometimes horrifying things, yet Dickens is careful to giveat least some of these lower-class characters a code of ethics, adding realismand respectability.” (Watkin 1).
When Sikesand Nancy recapture Oliver and bring him to Fagin, Nancy is the only oneshowing any ethics.The Jew inflicted a smart blow onOliver’s shoulders, with the club; and was raising it for a second, when thegirl, rushing forward, wrested it from his hand. She flung it into the fire,with a force that brought some of the glowing coals whirling out into the room.”I won’t stand by and see itdone, Fagin,” cried the girl. “You’ve got the boy, and what morewould you have?—Let him be—let him be—or I shall put that mark on some of you,that will bring me to the gallows before my time.
(Dickens 149).Towardsthe end we see she evolved from the person she was at the beginning because shesacrifices herself for Oliver by telling Rose about Oliver’s Parentage. In conclusion, Oliver Twist did notlet his bad environment as a child define the type of person he was. Oliver wasa pure soul in a corrupt city who accomplished to change the lives of thosearound him. For Example, Nancy changed because of Oliver. She realized she wasdoing wrong and began to do right. Dickens uses the themes of Oliver Twist toexpose child labor and to show that everyone can decide the type of person theywant to be no matter how rich or how poor one is.
Charles Dickens used his own experiencesto create a story that has become a piece of Classic Literature.