Drink was a major problem in the 19th Century as alcohol, such as gin, was cheap and so misused. The market scene epitomises the conditions of the under-class and the criminal underworld -‘ The ground was covered, nearly ankle-deep, with filth and mire; a thick steam, perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle’, ‘countrymen, butchers, drovers, hawkers, boys, thieves, idlers, and vagabonds of every low grade, were mingled together in a mass. Dickens’s descriptive skills are excellent here as they not only able the reader to clearly picture the scene, but imagine the smells, noises and public.
When Oliver enters Saffron Hill for the first time he is confronted by some disturbing scenes of which he is not used to – ‘ A dirtier or more wretched place he had never seen. The street was very narrow and muddy, and the air was impregnated with filthy odours’. This is Oliver’s introduction into the grim criminal society of London. Dickens includes frequent satire when talking about Mr Bumble or the workhouse, to mock beadles and the institution. An example of Dickens’s satire is in chapter two when Bumble visits Mrs.
Corney’s house and values all of her possessions – “Mr Bumble had re-counted the tea-spoons, re-weighed the sugar-tongs, made a closer inspection of the milk-pot, and ascertained to a nicety the exact condition of the furniture’. Dickens is portraying that, like Mr Bumble, all beadles are underhand and only concerned with wealth. Charles Dickens created Mr Bumble to try and display to the reader how much he dislikes beadles and their jobs. He exaggerates Bumble’s personality to produce a stereotype, for everyone to ridicule – ‘Now, Mr.
Bumble was a fat man, and a choleric; so instead of responding to this open-hearted salutation in a kindred spirit, he gave the little wicket a tremendous shake, and then bestowed upon it a kick which could have emanated from no leg but a beadle’s’. This also introduces an element of comedy. ‘Oliver Twist’ is written in 3rd person narrative. This means Charles Dickens is narrating the story and can swap between characters viewpoints. Dickens as the moraliser passes judgement on people, for example having sympathy for Nancy and ridiculing Mr Bumble.
Dickens concludes ‘Oliver Twist’ with a happy ending, when Oliver returns to living with Brownlow. Oliver has a terrible start to life when his mother dies and he is forced to live in the workhouse, the poorest conditions you could exist in. This start makes the reader feel sorry for Oliver, when they see the conditions of the under-class. As the readers were probably upper classes, they would be appalled, but the ending would appeal to them as Fagin and Sikes; the under-class criminals are killed, and Oliver is returned to his rightful class.
Charles Dickens uses highly descriptive language to illustrate realistic portraits of London, for the reader to relate to. ‘Covered ways and yards, which were here and there diverged from the main street, disclosed little knots of houses, where drunken men and women were positively wallowing in filth’ – his graphic sentences, provide imagery and the general atmosphere at the time. These atmospheres can help the reader visualize what they would be sensing if they were there – ‘ the shop was close and hot.
The atmosphere seemed tainted with the smell of coffins’. Colloquial dialogue is used by the under-class characters to convey a realistic theme throughout the novel – ‘Aye! And if I hear you for half a minute longer, the dog shall have such a grip on your throat as’ll tear some of that screaming voice out’. In reverse, the upper-class characters use very formal and sophisticated sentences – ‘He is the master of this establishment; his death will cause a vacancy: that vacancy must be filled up. Oh, Mrs. Corney, what a prospect this opens!
What an opportunity for a joining of hearts and house keepings! ‘ This distinction in vocabulary also helps to differentiate the social class of the speaker. Pathetic fallacy is used to attribute human characteristics to nature or inanimate objects. Dickens uses pathetic fallacy, in the form of weather, to replicate the emotions of the scene e. g. bad times; bad weather – ‘raining hard; and the clouds looking dull and stormy’, ‘sombre light only serving to pale’. In this case it is used to show the overall feelings are depressing and miserable.
Pathetic fallacy is also used when Fagin is sentenced to death. Before his execution everything is dark to symbolise death – ‘Then came night – dark, dismal, silent night’. The workhouse is where Oliver was born and raised. In this environment living conditions are deliberately harsh, diets are sparse, and family structures become nonexistent when workhouse officials separate husbands and wives. The ‘Poor Law’ of l834 abolished the outdoor relief system for the able-bodied, thus forcing them to move to the workhouses.
The workhouses in turn were made more deplorable to encourage the able-bodied paupers to look for work. Dickens depicts oppression and exploitation of the less fortunate, in the actions of the Sowerberry couple, who take on Oliver at their funeral directors. By Tom Reeves 11FR Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Oliver Twist section.