How does Charles Dickens expose Victorian society’s awful treatment of children of the poor?


Charles Dickens wrote the novel "Oliver Twist" as a way of expressing his views on how the rich treated the poor, and how he felt about the laws regarding the poor. At the time there was a huge gap between the rich and the poor due to industrialisation. This meant that the poor were left to survive in unpleasant, overcrowded conditions, and were treated harshly by the rich. Dickens felt strongly about this situation and wrote "Oliver Twist" with the intention of changing the public\'s attitude towards the poor. He uses wit, sarcasm, exaggeration, and emotional writing to get his points and feelings across to the reader. Dickens uses different techniques to expose Victorian Society\'s awful treatment of children of the poor.


From the very beginning of the novel, Dickens describes the mistreatment of the poor. He uses the workhouse and authorities to show us just how badly the children are treated. A newborn baby is seen as a "new burden for the parish", an "item of mortality", or a "statistic". Oliver was born into a grim workhouse where he was constantly in a "hungry and unwanted situation". The helpless infants are made to use the treadmill as punishment, and Oliver is locked in the coal-cellar. Here Dickens uses over exaggerated descriptions to show the treatment of the children, to get the message clear to people so that they are able to get an idea of the reality.


Mrs Mann shows the careless attitude of those in authority. She uses tough punishments such as locking the boys in the dark coal-cellar. Oliver is even locked up on his ninth birthday with a select party of two other young gentlemen. Here Dickens uses sarcasm to show the carelessness of those who worked with the children. The children mainly die of natural causes, but Mrs Mann makes no effort at all to keep them alive. Dickens is really trying to demonstrate that the authorities are the main threat to the poor.


The terrible conditions of the workhouse are shown when Oliver asks for more gruel. "Please, sir, I want some more." Dickens uses exaggeration, and even slight humour to compose this section of the book. What seems to be a reasonable, polite question from a growing boy is shown as a complete insult and offence to authority. "The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale.”


Dickens uses stereotyped characters to symbolise the superior, and how they treated the poor. Mr Fang, a police magistrate, is extremely harsh on Oliver and gives Oliver an unreasonable sentence for Oliver\'s "crime", considering his age.


Mr Bumble, the beadle at the workhouse, constantly bullies and looks down on Oliver. "…One hundred and forty sixpences! - and all for a naughty orphan which nobody can\'t love." Although Mr Bumble overpowers Oliver, he is not all that he seems. He acts superior and intelligent. Dickens uses this technique to show the reader that the rich feel that they are special and of a higher standard than the poor, but really they are in no sense any different than the lower class, so they should not be allowed to treat them any differently.


London is described as a "filthy" and "wretched" place, definitely not a good place for a young boy to live, so when Oliver reaches the city, it shows the dangers he has reached, due to being ill kept and running away. This makes the reader feel sorry for Oliver. Oliver stays with Fagin and gets brought in with the boy\'s thievery, without realizing what they were out to do. Oliver is used to show how naďve a poor young boy is in this situation and how dangerous it was for a boy like Oliver in those days. Fagin is used to show the other dangers present for the poor children at the time. Dickens uses imagery to introduce Fagin. He describes him as "villainous-looking", "matted red hair" and a "Jew". At the time, Jews were stereotyped as evil. This all adds to the effect of Fagin being much like the Devil. Dickens also demonstrates that it was difficult for the poor to break free of the poverty cycle. Fagin could