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Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens Free essay! Download now

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Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 499 | Submitted: 21-Nov-2011
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Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens


Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.
Given the reputation and gravity of Oliver Twist, it is sometimes difficult to recall that this was only Dickens’ second novel, written and serialised in 1838. Moreover, it was a risky project because Dickens had won massive popular acclaim on the basis of his preceding novel, The Pickwick Papers (1836), which could not have been more different in its comic recording of the adventures of the ‘Pickwick Club’. Nevertheless, Dickens’ novel of the pauper child’s struggles in the wickedness of London’s thieves’ kitchens was to become one of his most enduring, popular successes, adapted for stage and screen multiple times since its inception and as popular today as when it was first published.
When Dickens began Oliver Twist, he was a young man with a mission: to expose the evils of society’s treatment of such children as Oliver represents and expose the invidiousness of the contentious Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. From his birth in the workhouse, where he is ‘badged and ticketed’, Oliver is the essence of all that Dickens believes to be wrong with Victorian Society. Indeed, the author believed that by making his readers care about one such boy, he could make them care about many. Though it may be ‘a mistake to think of Oliver Twist as a realistic story’ it nevertheless contains enduring truths and such descriptions as ‘the pauper's funeral in Chapter Five [were] also historically accurate’.
The novel concerns the story of a child, born out of wedlock in the workhouse of ‘a certain town’. By refusing to name the town, Dickens is not only dismissive of all such places as not worth the ‘trouble’ of mentioning but also imposing a comprehensively applicable generic, as he is on the emblematic child himself. After a series of early struggles, set pieces, such as Oliver’s asking for ‘more’, having become so powerfully entrenched in the public consciousness as to make them almost clichéd, Oliver becomes so desperate that he walks to London and is immediately sucked into the world of thieves and vagabonds which so powerfully populate the novel. A palpable concern with these characters, such as Fagin and Sikes, is that they are, in common with many of Dickens’ villains, more charismatic than the benevolent and certainly, one of the reasons readers continue to be drawn to the story is the evil genius that is Fagin, persistently referred to as ‘the Jew’. This is in itself problematic in contemporary society, as the inherent anti-Semitism which attaches to Dickens’ descriptions of him are difficult for the modern reader to dispassionately assimilate. Yet, ‘in his rendering of Fagin's gang and their surroundings, Dickens intended a realism that he felt was lacking in the ...

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