Oliver Twist. Charles Dickens was a famous author who lived in the Victorian era of England, he mainly wrote novels to expose how the rich society of Victorian England tried to ignore how the poor citizens were treated. Victorian attitudes to the poor were very biased; they made the poor appear to be bad people who had no intention to work and treated them as such. Dickens however, felt sympathetic towards the poor, a reason for this may be because he grew up in a poor environment and worked in a blacking factory at the age of 12.
This part of his childhood also contributed to part of his sympathy towards Oliver Twist and the poor. Oliver Twist was an orphan boy whose mother was found in the street alone, her destination and place of origin were unknown and yet she was pregnant. She was taken in by the workhouse where she managed to give birth to a young boy before instantly passing away. He grew up in the workhouse but was kicked out at the young age of 11 with nowhere to go. He arrived in London after a long and tiring walk from the workhouse.
Upon his arrival, he was taken in by a clan of thieves who taught him the tricks of the trade and treated him as one of their own. They assigned him his first pick pocketing job which, unfortunately for him, ended up in him trying to evade them. He then fell into the hands of a wealthy man who gave him the life he never had. There is a lot of sympathy all throughout the story and it has been included from the very beginning of the novel. Oliver is treated with disregard by the parish authorities; Dickens also describes Oliver as “the item of mortality” whose name is fixed to the head of the chapter.
By describing Oliver as an “item” Dickens shows sympathy towards Oliver, since nobody should be treated as if they were an item, but the Victorian attitudes to the poor didn’t see it that way. Upon Oliver’s birth, he was not cared about, nor was he valued. We know this because Dickens uses pathos to describe the way he was treated after being born. “For some time he lay gasping on a little flock mattress. ” He creates sympathy for Oliver by expressing the way that the doctor and nurse felt about him and their attitudes towards his birth.
The word “gasping” shows that the young little boy was left to fend for himself while fighting for his life. We know that Oliver will be an orphan from the start of the novel. “Let me see the child and die. ” We may feel sympathetic towards young Oliver because his mother is about to die, yet he is still a baby. He is born into a workhouse (where the poor reside) and he is now about to become an orphan! During their time in the workhouse, Oliver and the other residents were not treated fairly.
describes them as poor citizens via hyperbole. “… Twenty or thirty other juvenile offenders against the poor laws. ” We may feel sympathy towards Oliver because being poor is the only thing he has done, and according to the Victorian attitudes to the poor, it is considered as a crime. He is described as a juvenile offender, but he is only a toddler at the time. The workhouse took no care in Oliver’s birthday. Dickens uses pathos to describe how Oliver was treated on his birthday. “It was his ninth birthday and he was keeping it in the cellar. ”
This creates sympathy for the boy because not only did he receive no gift, but he was also serving punishment for being hungry. He was also nine years old at the time, starving a boy at such a young age may have effects on his health condition. Mrs Mann does not treat the children of the workhouse how they should be treated. One of the reasons for this is that she feeds them alcohol when they are ‘not well’. “‘Ah, bless ’em that I do, dear as it is. ” This also creates sympathy for Oliver, because it shows that Mrs Mann does not treat him as if he were a child.