Oliver Twist is one of the most popular novels ever written to this day, despite it being written over 200 years ago. Its author Charles Dickens is renowned for his fantastic use of techniques. These techniques range from basic similes and metaphors to a brilliant use of imagery and personification/anthropomorphism. The story is about a young vulnerable boy who is orphaned, and is forced to live in a workhouse. However the conditions there are appalling, as they are fed little more than gruel and live in disease and dysentery while the governors and owners are fine dining right before the children’s eyes everyday.
Nevertheless Oliver revolts against this, which results in him being sold to a funeral parlour. His life then goes from bad to worse as a wicked worker at the parlour continuously insulted the memory of Oliver’s dead mother. At last Oliver escapes from the funeral parlour as he embarks on his great journey to London where he hoped to find happiness and good fortune. But is this necessarily the case? So why is the novel still so loved and one of the greatest novels ever written 200 years on? It is remembered so well partly because of its fantastic storyline, which makes the reader want to read on.
But the main reason is that Dickens cleverly reflected the life of poverty in the 19th century/ Victorian era, the evils of the Poor Houses and the crime and corruption that existed in London at that time. Therefore it is possible that some readers in the 19th century could see the relevance of the novel to their own society, which might enhance their interest. Nevertheless how did Dickens achieve this so well? It was purely because Dickens could express his own emotions and feelings into the text, as he too was a workhouse boy.
This allowed him to write with such emotion and truth that he could really connect with the reader. We remember this book so well because not only does it give a warm and gripping tale full of adventure and excitement, it also conveys morals and a new prospective on how wrong the ethics were in the Victorian society. This makes the book truly memorable! A melodrama is the name given to a heavily sentimental story of drama. Typical features of a melodrama are long suffering heroes and heroines, cold-blooded villains, and a plot where the heroes always triumph.
Oliver Twist is a classic example of this, as Oliver suffers for a long period of time and witnesses so much atrocity but everything comes right at the end. Also Fagan is a true heartless villain and Dickens depicts him in this way the whole way through the book. This melodramatic form of writing was particularly popular in Dickens day. This is because Melodrama raised the traditional values to which people clung in the face of fundamental change. People liked this style as it seemed to be more real than reality.
In a way Dickens helped close down the disparity between the rich and the poor, as this melodramatic form of writing aspired to all audiences due to this form of writing being a brilliant emotional rollercoaster, and almost brought different classes of people to mix more freely as classes could relate to the book and have better social and economic understandings for each other. There are many melodramatic moments in Oliver Twist. However there is a very definite pattern of techniques whenever the scene is melodramatic.
This pattern is that whenever Dickens is trying to create a melodramatic scene he uses emotive language to make us feel sympathy for Oliver. One of the best ways in which Dickens does this is by making Oliver out to be innocent and gullible. This is shown when Oliver is so enthusiastic about saying goodbye to Dick before he goes to London when he knows he shouldn’t be, as he does not want to waste time lingering after he has just escaped. This firstly shows that Oliver has a very high regard for Dick.
However Dick then tells Oliver that he is dying and basically that he will never see Oliver again. “I heard the doctor tell them I was dying” and later qualifies that by saying “After I’ am dead”. Nevertheless Oliver just completely denies the truth by saying that he will see Dick again. “I shall see you again, Dick. I know I shall! You will be well and happy! ” Oliver does this because he obviously likes or loves Dick(they kiss each other) so much that he will not face up to the fact that Dick is going to die and Oliver will never see him again.
Therefore how can you not feel sympathy for someone who denies the truth just so they can believe what they want? This sympathy is felt even more strongly by the fact that they are two, small, vulnerable, sweet, children. The Victorians particularly liked sentimental scenes as this melodramatic form of writing was still new and exciting to them. One of the best examples of emotive language in Oliver Twist is at the beginning of chapter 7 when Oliver is locked in the cellar.