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Oliver Twist

  • Date Submitted: 03/17/2010 10:45 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 48.1 
  • Words: 1547
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How did Charles Dickens create sympathy for the protagonist in the opening four chapters of Oliver Twist?
Sympathy is often defined as a feeling or an expression of pity or sorrow for the distress of another. It is noted that Charles Dickens quite frequently applied various techniques to evoke from potential readers, the feeling of sympathy for the protagonist Oliver, in the book ‘_Oliver Twist_’.
The novel pursues the life of a fictional character called, the obvious ‘Oliver Twist’. From the very beginning, attracting the sympathy of the reader is accomplished as Dickens commences with Oliver’s destitute mother arriving, heavily pregnant at a parish workhouse. Not long after arriving at the workhouse, did his mother give birth and demand to let her see the child and die. Although the sympathy was not encompassing the protagonist, it surrounded the mother of the protagonist – who was yet to burden the world with his presence. Immediately, the reader’s emotions are captured as any human could empathise with someone who gave birth to a child aware of their fatal future. Oliver is then presumed an orphan left to the tender mercies of church wardens. The technique of commiseration contrasts with Dickens’ use of irony generating a greater effect on the reader. Oliver has no parents, or acknowledged family and his future was virtually written in concrete. As for his newly present guardians and the church, there is no mercy in store for Oliver, and the characters embodied quite the opposite of tender, more so arduous. It could be said that Dickens did not set up any sort of reader expectations, he more or less, dissolved any reader’s expectations leaving them believing there was no hope for Oliver.
Unfortunately for Oliver, his determined residence was the ill-fated workhouse. Workhouses were supposedly created by the parishes, to ‘aid’ the poor. However, the actual environment of a workhouse seemed to hinder rather than aid the lives of those who fell victim to...


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