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    Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist Essay

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    Charles Dickens was a very important writer in the Victorian era. He was a very successful and respected author of many well known books, including Oliver Twist. His stories were published in magazines and newspapers of his time and focused mainly on the social issues of the poor. Dickens felt strongly about the welfare of poorer classes because he live in both fortunate and unfortunate conditions, so can easily compare both lives.

    His situation when his parents were sent to prison for debt were unfortunate; he had to go earn money for the family and lived in poverty during his younger years. This is when he decided to raise awareness, and he felt he was in a right position to too, coming from a well-off family and suddenly falling into a completely different lifestyle. Dickens main concern, which he portrayed in the majority of his stories, was the hate and segregation between rich and poor.

    The poor, if they did work, worked in claustrophobic workhouses with minimal pay. The rooms they lived in were filthy and infested with vermin. The families got terrible diseases, which they couldn’t afford to get treatment for, and would eventually die at an early age. The conditions of the slums were squalid. They were filthy and dangerous; making it almost impossible to believe people actually lived in them. They were built like this during the Industrial Revolution to house the huge surge of workers moving to London. There were no standards set when building them; they were built back-to-back and there were no sewer systems, resulting in horrific hygiene issues in the area of the cramped slums.

    The atmosphere the slums create in the extract is threatening and claustrophobic. The ‘high’ and ‘large’ houses are ‘insecure’ and over power a lot of the area, making characters seem very small and unwanted. The towering slums made them feel trapped and very prison-like. The rich didn’t show any respect to anyone in the book, and this is how Dickens gets people to feel sorry for the poor. As a reader, it makes you feel extremely sympathetic for them, as you feel they don’t deserve it.

    The atmosphere of the area is also seen as lazy and slow. Everything ‘skulks’ along and ‘moulders away’ and Dickens uses the word ‘inhabited’ to create a feeling that the things acting as humans aren’t actually alive, or at least not important. The people on the streets create a miserable mood by the way they hold themselves and walk. ‘Bodies half doubled with arms folded’ establishes that everyone wants to be kept to themselves and clearly don’t welcome strangers.

    The conditions of the houses are poor and disgusting, and the houses themselves are old and decaying. The ‘stagnant’ and ‘filthy’ houses are ‘mouldering’ away. I think the word ‘stagnant’ is very effective because it creates a certain image that nothing has moved, grown or developed so leaves a smell or state of disgust. It also gives the sense that the hygiene is poor and the people are overwhelmed by the dirt and filth of their own houses. Using the word ‘stagnant’ makes the description really strong, and creates a powerful image of houses that are stale and left uncared for. The horrible conditions also made people depressed and angry towards other people.

    People who live in these slums live in immorality; all around them they face inescapable extreme poverty. One house is described as a ‘kennel’ and other ‘crazy dens.’ Also the unavoidable dead rats are ‘hideous with famine.’ All this shows haw badly the people live, if rats are described in such a simple phrase, then the people’s health must be indescribable. Furthermore, the people have been degraded to live like dogs, living in a ‘kennel.’ Using the words ‘crazy den’ and ‘kennel’ really makes you see that the people were treat worse than animals, hiding away, rotting in a decaying habitat. ‘Kennels’ creates an image of an empty, dark, cold and lonely place to ‘live.’ The things living in these ‘kennels’ would be neglected and seen as minorities.

    In Chapter five of the Oliver Twist extract, Dickens uses a common, but sad event to show how horrible the richer people acted. Oliver Twist went to a funeral with Sowerberry and Dickens told the extract as if it were from Oliver’s mind. He shows how people treat the mourners, with disrespect and talked to them as if they were inferior just because they had a little less money. The people even treat the dead person with disrespect, as ‘ragged boys…played a noisy game …over the coffin.’ No one was concerned about the mourners and no one stopped the boys or showed any form of respect. Also in this section of the book, Dickens is trying to make other people understand the real struggle people go through everyday just to survive. He expresses the social conditions of the poor with very descriptive language, saying haw unsuitable the living conditions and haw poor hygiene is. The language Dickens uses creates a powerful image of the houses and people in this extract.

    Living conditions for the poor seemed cold. Maybe not fully to do with temperature, but possibly personality wise too. Dickens repeats the lack of heat in the room, and there is ‘no fire’ but there is a ‘cold hearth’ and an ’empty stove.’ The use of repetition really emphasises what conditions the poor have to put up with, and again creates sympathy for them. In the scene of the ‘grief-stricken’ man whose wife was ‘starved by them,’ Dickens uses repetition in speech when he’s describing death; “In the dark, in the dark.” This expresses the man is trying whole-heartedly to make others aware of haw his family is struggling to survive. Dickens puts a lot of detailed, descriptive speech into what the man is saying, and only one word sentences into that of Sowerberry and the others. This surreptitiously makes the reader focus more on the poor mans story, and once more creating a sense of sympathy and hate towards the richers.

    Dickens very much focuses on the cold heartedness of the rich when it comes to a very emotional event; death. This is an extremely powerful way to ‘win’ the reader’s feelings for the poor. You can see this is one of the main points Dickens tried so hard to express to the rich; if they had helped or even became equal, lives would have been saved and happiness and harmony would have been portrayed to all levels of wealth.

    Dickens is trying to make everyone see that the poor are the stronger ones; coping with everyday despair, sorrow, hate and grief. He wanted people to realise that the poor should be the ones who are blessed with love and a better quality of life and standard of living, from their lives of hard work which resulted in small pay and illness, not the richers who just happened to be brought up into a wealthy family and inherited grandparent’s money to survive, but not done anything to deserve it. In Dickens’ eyes, the rich were clearly seen as disgusting people, people who did not deserve what they had.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist Essay. (2017, Nov 03). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/charles-dickens-oliver-twist-25998/

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