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Oliverr Twist

  • Date Submitted: 10/19/2010 11:13 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 58.9 
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Analyse how dickens portrays the criminal underworld in ‘Oliver Twist’ showing awareness of social and historical influences.

Charles Dickens wrote the novel ‘Oliver Twist’ which he published as a serial, once a month in 1838. Each chapter ending on a cliff hanger to keep the readers interested. The novel was published as a whole in November 1838. Dickens was a social critic in a society that seemed full of criminals and prostitutes. There was a huge problem with poverty, partly because of mechanisation, which meant fewer jobs for agricultural workers. Dickens explores the reasons for the increase in crime and poverty, and hopes that his middle class readers will want to bring about social change.

One of the things that Dickens was concerned about was the introduction of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1843. This act had two major implications for the poor. Firstly it meant that people in need of help had to enter the workhouse in order to receive public assistance, and secondly it made conditions in the workhouses so harsh that poor people desperately tried to avoid entering them. This meant that many poor people went to the cities. There was no work for them there and little decent housing or sanitation. In their desperate attempt to survive, they frequently turned to crime. Dickens makes this link between crime and poverty and wants his readers to realise that in order to combat criminality, they must first tackle poverty.

Oliver Twist is the story of a child born in the workhouse. It is written in the third person. There are three reasons why Dickens chose to use this technique; firstly the reader can see everything that is happening which Oliver is completely unaware of the criminals he is with. Secondly Oliver’s innocence is established to the reader and this makes the reader sympathise. Finally Dickens makes direct contact to the reader by stepping out of his role as a narrator and interacts with the readers.

Dickens’s uses irony to show the reader...


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