” This tells us the city is in poverty. This is clever of Dickens as he doesn’t actually tell us that London is in poverty but he still gets the point across. He also creates almost a refuge atmosphere by Dickens use of emotive language, as he does not say ‘the only stock the shops had were lots of children’ he says ‘heaps of children’. He describes them as they were animals. Dickens also just describes the filth and squalor in London by saying “The air was impregnated with filthy odours” and he also writes, “positively wallowing in filth”, “muddy” and “dirtier”.
Impregnated is a very strong adjective and fundamentally means ‘saturated’, so Dickens is actually saying that the air is saturated with filth, and this very effectively makes you almost feel sick. Dickens also says wallowing which means ‘to roll in filth’ but Dickens then almost qualifies wallowing by saying ‘positively wallowing’. Dickens really brings the chase scene to life and makes it truly memorable but he accomplishes this in many ways. After Oliver starts running and the chase really begins Dickens builds up the tension and makes everything extremely busy by one long sentence. “Stop thief!
Stop thief! ‘ There is a magic in the sound. The tradesman leaves his counter, and the car-man his waggon; the butcher throws down his tray; the baker his basket; the milkman his pail; the errand-boy his parcels; the school-boy his marbles; the paviour his pickaxe; the child his battledore. Away they run. ” This sentence rally gets your heart pumping, and it doesn’t give you a chance to breath, but you have to read on because it’s so exciting. After this sentence he carries on for the rest of the chase with this sentence structure; long sentences which don’t give you a chance to breath.
When Oliver is caught, Dickens makes the sentences short and snappy again which really adds to the affect. However when Oliver is brutally stopped “stopped at last! A clever blow” the tone and atmosphere changes. Now Oliver is down on the floor hurt we feel sympathy for Oliver as he is just a poor child even if he did steal something (although we know he didn’t). However we feel even more sympathy for Oliver because not only has been wrongly accused but he was chased and betrayed by his only friends, the Artful Dodger and Master Bates.
Something else that Dickens does in the chase is that he makes an extremely good use of description and adjectives. Dickens describes Oliver as ” One wretched breathless child, panting with exhaustion; terror in his looks; agony in his eyes; large drops of perspiration streaming down his face, strains every nerve to make head upon his pursuers. ” Dickens describes so many emotions in that one sentence and makes you feel so sympathetic for Oliver. He says that Oliver has ‘terror in his looks’.
This is a very strong choice of word as it means ‘intense fear’ but it really shows what is happening. All of this makes the chase even more memorable as Oliver has been chased, hit, betrayed, hurt and been left all alone but he didn’t do anything. However this chase seen is another perfect melodramatic example as Dickens so cleverly exaggerates this scene. He describes it almost as if it were some kind of battle, as people would not literally chase after this tiny little boy like flocks of geese and begin to hit Oliver.
This exaggeration of the chase builds up this enormous sentimentality for Oliver which readers would have loved in the 19th century. Oliver Twist is obviously one of the greatest novels written. Dickens manages to ensure that Oliver’s early adventures in London are truly memorable through a gripping fast moving storyline, the creation of the unique larger than life characters of Fagin, Artful Dodger and Mr Fang and the vivid critical descriptions of life in London. In addition using a melodramatic style Dickens was and is able to evoke emotions within his reader/audience.
At the time that Dickens wrote Oliver Twist part of the impact of Oliver’s adventures in London would have been the social relevance of the poverty and crime in London. Today it could be argued that it serves as a reminder of what life used to be like in London in Victorian times and that from a charitable and compassionate viewpoint society has moved on.