Oliver Twist1

This essay has a total of 923 words and 6 pages.

Oliver Twist1

Guy 1
Jamar Guy
Mrs. Brown

January 12, 2001

Oliver Twist:
A Criticism of Society or a Biography
With all of the symbolism and moral issues represented in Oliver Twist, all seem to come
from real events from the life of its author, Charles Dickens. The novel’s
protagonist, Oliver, is a good person at heart surrounded by the filth of the London
streets, filth that Dickens himself was forced to deal with in his everyday life.
It’s probable that the reason Oliver Twist contains so much fear and agony is
because it’s a reflection of occurrences in Charles Dickens' past. Oliver Twist
also brought to light the evils of social injustice and the victims of it.

During his childhood, Charles Dickens suffered much abuse from his parents. This abuse is
often expressed in his novel. 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 a ladle and placed him
confinement. As noted by Patricia Marks in her article on Dickens, “childhood
experience and suffering had emerged as a significant new topic in romantic poetry, and
Dickens was personally impelled towards it by memories of his own pre-teenage years when,
with the rest of his family in prison and himself alone, he was thrown into manual
labour.” Dickens was even quoted as saying, “I might easily have been, for
any care that

was taken of me, a little robber or a little vagabond.” This quote could relate to Oliver’s first

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encounter in London, which was with a member of a criminal gang who sought to recruit him.
Phillip Collins believed that throughout Dickens’ lifetime, he appeared to have
acquired a fondness for "the bleak, the sordid, and the austere,” due to
Dickens’ colorful description of London. Most of Oliver Twist, for example, takes
place in London's lowest slums. The city is described as a maze, which, as Richard Ford
put it “involved a mystery of darkness, anonymity, and peril." Many of the
settings, such as the pickpocket's hideout, the surrounding streets, and the bars, are
also described as dark, gloomy, and bland. But in creating this environment, Dickens
makes Oliver a symbol for good or an archetypal figure like Christ or the Phoenix. For
example, even while his life was in danger while in the hands of Fagin and Bill Sikes, two
conniving pickpockets, Oliver refused to participate in the stealing which he so greatly

Obviously, escape is an important topic in Oliver Twist. All Oliver really longed for was
to escape from harsh living conditions and evil surroundings which he had grown up in.
Oliver is seeking various forms of escape from conditions that make him unhappy like his
loneliness and starvation. Since dealing with escapism, it is not surprising that death
is also a major symbol in this story. In the novel, death and coffins symbolize a happy
and peaceful manner of escape, expounding more on the somewhat morbid tone of this novel.

Philip Collins said that Oliver Twist “announces two central concerns of Dickens's
fiction: seeing characters in relation to institutions, and referring to important
topicalities. How to deal with paupers, criminals, and children were urgent and
controversial issues, in which Dickens took a prolonged and well-informed interest,
outside as well as in his fiction.”

Most of Oliver Twist seems to imply that it is better to be a thief than to be alone. This

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Continues for 3 more pages >>

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