During his lifetime, Charles Dickens is known to have written several

books. Although each book is different, they also share many similarities.

Two of his books, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist, are representatives

of the many kinds of differences and similarities found within his work.


Perhaps the reason why these two novels share some of the same

qualities is because they both reflect painful experiences which occurred

in Dickens\' past. During his childhood, Charles Dickens suffered much abuse

from his parents.1 This abuse is often expressed in his novels. Pip, in

Great Expectations, talked often about the abuse he received at the hands

of his sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery. On one occasion he remarked, "I soon found

myself getting heavily bumped from behind in the nape of the neck and the

small of the back, and having my face ignominously shoved against the wall,

because I did not answer those questions at sufficient length."2


While at the orphanage, Oliver from Oliver Twist also experienced a

great amount of abuse. For example, while suffering from starvation and

malnutrition for a long period of time, Oliver was chosen by the other boys

at the orphanage to request more gruel at dinner one night. After making

this simple request, "the master (at the orphanage) aimed a blow at

Oliver\'s head with the ladle; pinioned him in his arms; and shrieked aloud

for the beadle."3


The whole beginning of Oliver Twist\'s story was created from memories

which related to Charles Dickens\' childhood in a blacking factory ( which

was overshadowed by the Marshalsea Prison ).4 While working in the blacking

factory, Dickens suffered tremendous humiliation. This humiliation is

greatly expressed through Oliver\'s adventures at the orphanage before he is

sent away.


Throughout his lifetime, Dickens appeared to have acquired a fondness

for "the bleak, the sordid, and the austere."5 Most of Oliver Twist, for

example, takes place in London\'s lowest slums.6 The city is described as a

maze which involves a "mystery of darkness, anonymity, and peril."7 Many of

the settings, such as the pickpocket\'s hideout, the surrounding streets,

and the bars, are also described as dark, gloomy, and bland.8 Meanwhile, in

Great Expectations, Miss Havisham\'s house is often made to sound

depressing, old, and lonely. Many of the objects within the house had not

been touched or moved in many years. Cobwebs were clearly visible as well

as an abundance of dust, and even the wedding dress which Miss Havisham

constantly wore had turned yellow with age.9


However, similarities are not just found in the settings. The novels\'

two main characters, Pip and Oliver, are also similar in many ways. Both

young boys were orphaned practically from birth; but where Pip is sent to

live with and be abused by his sister, Oliver is sent to live in an

orphanage. Pip is a very curious young boy. He is a "child of intense and

yearning fancy."10 Yet, Oliver is well spoken. Even while his life was in

danger while in the hands of Fagin and Bill Sikes, two conniving

pickpockets, he refused to participate in the stealing which he so greatly

opposed. All Oliver really longed for was to escape from harsh living

conditions and evil surroundings which he had grown up in.11 However, no

matter how tempting the evil may have been, Oliver stood by his beliefs.

Therefore, he can be referred to as "ideal and incorruptible innocence."12

"It is Oliver\'s self-generated and self-sustained love, conferred it would

seem from Heaven alone, that preserves him from disaster and death."13


Unfortunately, many critics have found it hard to believe that a boy

such as Oliver Twist could remain so innocent, pure, and well spoken given

the long period of time in which he was surrounded by evil and



Pip, on the other hand, is a dreamer. His imagination is always

helping him to create situations to cover up for his hard times. For

example, when questioned about his first visit to Miss Havisham\'s house, he

made up along elaborate story to make up for the terrible time he had in

reality. Instead of telling how he played cards all day while being

ridiculed and criticized by Estella and Miss Havisham, he claimed that they

played with flags and swords all day after having wine and cake on gold

plates.15 However, one special quality possessed by Pip that is rarely seen

in a novel\'s hero is that he wrongs others instead of being hurt himself

all of the time.16


Another similarity between Oliver and Pip is that they both have had

interactions with convicts. Fagin the head of a group of young thieves,

spends most of his time trying