The novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is a tale of a young orphan
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The novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is a tale of a young orphan boy who
enters this world, according to Dickens as an “it”.
For a long time after it was ushered into this world of sorrow and trouble by the
parish surgeon it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether the child
would survive to bear any name at all; in which case it is somewhat more than
probable that these memoirs would never have appeared; or, if they had, that
being comprised within a couple of pages, they would have possessed the
inestimable merit of being the most concise and faithful specimen of biography,
extant in the literature of any age or country (Dickens 19).
Dickens believes that this boy is unimportant, and his life meaningless, but as he writes
he brings a glow to the child’s spirit, and wonderful adventures to go along with it. The
plot of this story is, a boy on his way to becoming a nothing fights through his troubles,
and ends up living happily ever after. The theme of this story is, if you work hard, stand
by your beliefs, and do what is right than everything will work out. This theme, is
associated with many stories, such as fairy tales, everything will work out for the boy or
girl who has a rough life as long as they do what is right. This is fits Oliver perfectly, he
almost wasn’t even given a name, and in the beginning it was almost inevitable that he
would end up a street rat, than as he went through life learning what was right or wrong
things feel into place for him, and it was a happy ending.
As the boy Oliver Twist was born his mother died, and he was left with no
family, and was sent to go through life “despised by all, and pitied by none” (Dickens
22). As a young boy Twist is sent to a juvenile home, and then to a workhouse.
Dickens portrayal of Oliver’s childhood homes is of violence, mistreatment, deliberate
starvation, and helplessness. Dickens was obviously not a fan of the law, or what went
on behind the closed doors of these work houses. One day as Oliver attempts to get
more food he is turned down, and then he is apprenticed to Mr. Sowerberry. During his
apprenticeship Oliver meets Noah Claypole, a young charity boy. Claypole influences
Oliver to run away. Oliver declares that he is off to seek his fortune, and runs to
London, where he may find his place, where he belongs. This action that Oliver takes
is the only real characteristic you see of a protagonist character. A protagonist
character has some influence of how a story flows. Oliver lets things happen to him,
instead of making things happen. Later in the story he could be considered a pawn in
the crime and schemes of Fagin. A man of little morals, and even less of a heart. He is
caught up in himself, and what he needs he does everything he can to get.
In this novel you can see Dicken’s style very clearly. Dickens has a very unique
style, even though some critics say that there is no style in his literature, “If they mean
by this that Dickens has a tendency to play fast and loose with their ideas of literary
composition, of whatever order those ideas may be, no doubt they are in they right”
(Hayens 15). In this novel you can see the way that Dickens may have wrote for an
audience, or his method of addressing people. Dickens seemed to be telling a tale,
and if you consider yourself to be in this audience listening to this tale then you will
enjoy the story. Dickens also tells of his own beliefs in his writing. In Oliver Twist
Dickens strongly expresses his feelings of society, and the poor law of the time. “His
personal interest in the matter and the personal relationship he feels towards the
readers combine in encouraging him to be insistent” (Hayens 16). It may not be
obvious the way he does this, but in the novel you can see the way that he describes
Oliver’s cell when he was imprisoned for stealing Mr. Brownlow’s handkerchief.
In our station-houses, men and women are every night confined on the most
trivial charges-the word is worth noting-in dungeons, compared with which,
those in Newgate, occupied by the most atrocious felons, tried, found guilty, and
under sentences of death, are palaces. (Dickens 85).
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