Oliver Twist and the Victorian Era

Oliver Twist and the Victorian Era


The novel, Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens draws many parallels to the
Victorian Era. Charles Dickens, was one of the main writers to emerge from the
Victorian Era. Dickens style and understanding of the period, allow Chesterton
to believe that he is “Victorians king of literature.” (236). Oliver Twist
is a perfect example on how Dickens uses his great skill.

In Oliver Twist, young Oliver is an illustration of the harshness that is
evident during this time. The treatment of adolescence, child labor, British
Laws, and British society all are examples of the Victorian Era that Dickens
makes reference to in Oliver Twist. Even through the reality to the time, Oliver
is still able to find happiness.


Charles Dickens was born February 7, 1812, in Portsea on the south coast of
England. Dickens family was of the lower middle class. John Dickens his father,
was a clerk in the navy pay office. “In 1814 John Dickens was transferred to
London for a tour of duty of unknown duration. By 1817 the family was
established in Chatham near the naval dockyard.” (Allen 23) From there on came
the happy years of Dickens childhood.

Young Dickens received his first education from his mother and later attended
regular schools in Chatham. He soon became intimate with his father’s small
collection of literary classics. (Allen 34) Dickens also revealed early signs of
being a genius. John Dickens was delighted in his son’s exhibiting talents,
“…thus reinforcing the nudgings of young ambition.” (Johnson 10) But, the
pleasant times came to end in 1822 when John Dickens was ordered back to London.

The now older Dickens’ improvident fondness for convivial living had by
then got him into financial straits from which he could not extricate himself,
and the situation was alarmingly precarious. Mrs. Dickens made a feeble and
foolhardy attempt to conduct a school to augment the family resources but only
succeeded in further diminishing them. (Forster 13)

To lessen the strain, Dicken’s was put to work in a blacking warehouse at
minimal wages. Two weeks afterward, his father was incarcerated in a debtor’s
prison, where the whole family joined him. During the incarceration, Dickens had
irregular relations with his family. The next six months were a painful ordeal
to the family. In addition to the labor, Dickens endured the indignities of
malnutrition, indecent housing, and the hostile living companions. This was a
humiliating time that left an incredulous impression on the proud and sensitive
Dickens. (Allen 49) We know this because of Dicken’s later novel David
Copperfield. It is likely that the implication and consequences of poverty were
instrumental in shaping the patter of his life. Dickens became distinguished by
furious energy, determination to succeed, and an inflexible will, said Allen.

After his father’s had been imprison for months, his mother passed away.
“The legacy that he received was sufficient to effect his release and to
relieve his immediate financial embarrassments.” (Forster 22) The only thing
that was uplifting to Dickens during this time was that he was taken out of the
warehouse and put back into school. He spent the next three years at the
academy, completing all of the formal education that was to receive.

In 1827, Dickens entered a solicitor’s office. While applying himself to
the law, he managed in his spare time to master shorthand. About two years
later, Dickens felt ready to hazard a less tedious and more promising
occupation, and he became a free-lance court reporter. (Johnson 19) Which
started Dickens illustrious journalistic and writing carrier. For over three
years, the future novelist was brought into close contact with grim facets of
the city life as exhibited in the courts. His work was seasonable and to some
degree sporadic, so he was able to spend much time reading in the British
Museum. (Forster 26)

In March of 1832, Dickens became a journalist. After serving on two
newspapers and acquiring experience as a parliamentary reporter, in 1834 he
joined the staff of the prominent Morning Chronicle. (Allen 64) Dickens gained
the reputation of being one of the fastest and most accurate reporters in
London. “In addition to his metropolitan activities, his assignment took him
all over England, mainly to cover political events.” (Bloom 65) With this
exposure to the prevailing realties of political life, in Parliament and around
the nation, the writer’s apprenticeship was receiving its finishing touches.

During his expeditions, Dickens had begun to compose sketches of London life.
The first of these was published unsigned in the Monthly Magazine of December
1833. In August 1834, the signature ‘Boz’ made its first appearance, and
Dickens’ anonymity