The Criminal Type Of Oliver Twist
In life, many people suffer from demoralizing conditions such as poverty, unpleasant appearance, and unrootedness; these are thought to be qualities of criminals and easy gateways into a life of crime and mischief. This opinion is strongly held in societies such as Victorian England. Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist showcases the habit of criminality in several characters along with their profound actions, which ultimately leads to mistreatment, penance, and death. The Victorian view on the poor has proven to be stereotypical and cruel. The economic and social status of Victorian’s were considered related to moral character. A state of poverty can pressure one into criminality. Spiritual beauty was seen to be directly connected to physical beauty. There are strong correlations between unrooted individuals and crime. The citizens of Victorian England held utmost hatred against the poor, especially those involved in crime.
The poor of Victorian England possessed traits that were frowned upon by many. From having a reputation of laziness, worthlessness, desperation, and pity, the general attitude toward the poor was jarring. Those struggling in poverty were condemned to the workhouses with deliberately harsh working environments with abusive masters, as seen through the protagonist Oliver Twist and several other characters such as his friend Dick. “So they established the rule, that all poor people should have the alternative (for they would compel nobody, not they,) of being starved by a gradual process in the workhouse, or by a quick one out of it.”(Dickens 25) This quote is a bold example of showing how poverty corresponds to crime; because of one being poor, they have to endure suffering, and once one tries to rebel, they are labeled as a criminal. In the early stages of the Victorian Era, “economic and social status were considered inextricably and directly linked to moral character” (Samples, 7). A clear example of such a statement is shown through divergent father-figures, Mr. Brownlow and Fagin. The two characters are polar opposites, as Brownlow is an affluent and caring person, while Fagin is financially unstable and operates a theft ring with “four or five boys: none older than the Dodger” (Dickens, 64); the novel also portrays the Maylies as gentle people, who are coincidentally wealthy as well.
The concept of beggary in Oliver Twist is showcased as an indirect link into a life of crime. This is easily detectable through the first few chapters, where the orphaned Oliver Twist says, “Please sir, I want some more” (Dickens, 15). This begging led to Oliver being sentenced to death and imprisoned for three months; it was complete asinine for him to make such a request. The pauperism, overcrowding, and filthy conditions of the workhouses drove many poor people to steal to provide for their families. All the criminals in the novel are also scrambling with funds, which strengthens the connection between poverty and criminality. For example, Bill Sikes asks Fagin for funds, Fagin lives in an aged and dirty room, Nancy is a prostitute, and the children live off thieving. Much like the connection between poverty and criminality, things such as physical appearance and lack of family can lead one to crime. An individual’s unpleasant appearance and unrootedness are deemed as criminal qualities in Oliver Twist; “Dickens uses unflattering physical appearance as a characteristic by-product of low moral standards or criminal tendencies” (Samples, 20).
An initial example of this analogy is shown through the death of Oliver’s mother. The doctor comments on her appearance by saying “She was a good-looking girl too” (Dickens, 5); he had presumed she was a ‘good person’ despite being a stranger. This statement essentially directs to another popular Victorian opinion, spiritual beauty equates to physical beauty. Although Dickens does not provide in-depth descriptions of his criminals, they are issued through George Cruikshank’s approved illustrations. One can recognize that characters such as Oliver Twist and Rose Maylie are drawn clear with a light complexion, while villains such as Fagin and The Dodger are drawn with a dark complexion and many lines, indicating dirt. The novel’s sketches can be considered reliable as evidence for Dickens’ intentions. Oliver’s face is a representation of his good nature; it is so powerful that it makes Brownlow question his common sense when pressing charges. As stated before, characters like Fagin and The Dodger are so distinctive compared to other Victorians that it hinders them in crime. The correlation between uprooted individuals and criminality is significantly stronger than one may think. Criminality was seen as a family trait by Victorians. The new idea of family was stressed in the Victorian society; “Oliver’s orphan status presumably condemns him to a life of crime” (Samples, 43). The doctor that birthed Oliver says, “It is very likely it will be troublesome” (Dickens, 5) because he is an orphaned bastard. Criminals’ lack of family roots led to a feeling of ambiguity and the convenience of crime. Oliver’s pseudo-family of Fagin’s gang was compiled of runaways and criminals; even though they somewhat gave Oliver a sense of belonging, they also trained him to be a pickpocket. Fagin held the role of both teacher and father to Oliver, while others such as The Dodger and Master Bates act as brothers. The corruption of this family is inexplicable and essentially set up Oliver for a life of crime until he is taken in by Mr. Brownlow. Overall, the connection between poverty, physical appearance, lack of family, and criminality is strongly represented in Oliver Twist.
The stereotypes of the Victorian era have proven to be cliché and merciless. The foolish standards held on the poor, the ugly, and the orphaned aided in turning them into crime-ridden humans. Many individuals who experience the ill effects of dampening conditions, for instance, neediness, vexatious appearance, and unrootedness eventually assimilate the practice of a crime. Although the relationship between these traits and criminality is firmly proven, one can argue that these people simply chose the life of crime; they ignored the opportunity to rise from the slums to succession like Charles Dickens himself. It can also be said that there is no correlation at all between the list of qualities and criminality and that the Victorian society essentially set these people up for failure. Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist thoroughly depicts the link between poverty, physical appearance, and unrootedness to the habit of criminality, as well as the brainless stereotypes present in Victorian England.
Jack Dawkins by Terry Ward
In Charles Dickens’ well-known classic, Oliver Twist, Jack Dawkins, also known as The Artful Dodger, is seen toward the end of the 43rd chapter during his trial reducing the courtroom to hysterics with his derisive and rumbustious behavior. He goes as far as to threaten the magistrates, warning that he wouldn’t show them a half-penny worth of mercy as his, “attorney is a-breakfasting this morning with the wice-president of the House of Commons…” He insists that he will, without a doubt, make a parliamentary business out of it. Jack is then last seen being whisked away, wearing a grin of great glee and self-approval. Terry Ward’s Jack Dawkins picks up from that last scene of the Dodger, taking readers back to the times of Oliver and Jack. But this time, Jack Dawkins is the central focus of the narrative, while Oliver Twist and Mr. Brownlow are featured as supporting characters. Other characters from Oliver Twist as well as some characters from other books by Charles Dickens play minor roles while others are mentioned in passing. In revisiting the amusing and memorable character of Jack, Ward’s novel offers a compelling account of the adventures and misadventures that may have befallen Mr. Dawkins after his sentencing. But not before readers are propelled to the forefront of a buzzing crowd pressing on a scaffold, attempting to get the best view of the cut-throat execution of Fagin and two other thieves. When Oliver receives news of Jack’s sentence, he pleads with his adoptive father to intervene with the mandatory transportation of Jack to Botany Bay, Australia. Although reluctant, his father agrees, but on the condition that Jack abides by his terms – one being that Jack leaves London and its temptations for Romney Marsh, where he’ll be given the opportunity to start afresh and earn an honest living.
While on his way there, he meets a girl that he is quick to fancy, however, before he can settle into his new life and its rules. All hell breaks loose when a murder occurs, and someone rather familiar with Jack and his history aims to pin the murder on him to cover his own tail and dealings with the real killer. Adding to Jack’s worries, the girl he adores has been taken hostage by murderous villains. Having life deal him another bad hand, he struggles not to go back to his old antics as he sets out to rescue the girl he loves. Also, Jack’s dreams are increasingly haunted by images of his mother. This further stirs his desire to find his parents. Given how much time has passed since he last saw his mother and the fact that he has no clue of his parent’s whereabouts, will Jack ever reconcile with his family, and are they still alive? The narrative is told from Jack Dawkins’ point of view in a conversational tone. This style of narration brought me closer to the character, as I felt like I was reading his diary when he shared his thoughts, actions, feelings, and the unfolding events. Through his account, Jack comes across as someone who isn’t proud of the trade that his circumstances had led him to. And although he appears to have some semblance of remorse and is more considerate and thoughtful than the Artful Dodger we once knew, he’s still plagued with doubt about his character, as he sometimes finds himself fighting the urge to use the skills he mastered while in Fagin’s gang. I very much liked the character of Mr. Brownlow in the original, and I’m happy to report that even in Jack’s story and version of events, he is still the same good-natured and benevolent character we loved.
Historical figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington make their way into the story, giving us a glimpse of fascinating historical moments that impacted the characters’ lives, as well as Jack’s viewpoints on the events of his time. The author’s commendable use of description impressed me. His words painted vivid images of the characters and places they visited. I also appreciated the naturally flowing dialogues and especially enjoyed the humorous asides. The narrative moves along at a good pace with twists and turns that kept me glued to the book. I loved the element of surprise and the shock I felt due to a few events that transpired, which caught me completely off guard. Even though I initially felt that the development of Jack’s romantic relationship was a bit rushed, I eventually bought into their relationship and was rooting for them. However, down the line, another aspect that had influenced how their relationship had developed was brought to light; this new information stirred my emotions all the way to the end. The strong accent/speech patterns and slang I had come to associate with Jack Dawkins felt diluted in this account. Given that he is the first-person narrator, I expected his narration to have the same level of dialect (complete with the grammatical errors and misspellings that Charles Dickens intentionally infused into Jack’s dialogues), especially because this story kicks off after his sentencing, thus, in my mind, his speech patterns should still be the same. I did encounter a few minor errors, including those in the French dialogues the characters used while visiting France. Additionally, the table of contents and the glossary that would come in handy for those not familiar with some of the words/slang used in that period, including some of the other characters in books by Mr. Dickens are sadly placed at the end of the book. All things considered, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Jack Dawkins. The plot is intriguing and I believe readers who haven’t known Jack through Oliver Twist can still read and enjoy this one. And those who have read the original that inspired the author will appreciate the familiarities of old characters and get a fill for their curiosity of what may have become life for the Dodger after his trial.
Why Should We Read Oliver Twist?
The Oliver Twist story is about an orphan, who has a difficult childhood and enters into criminal activities to ultimate salvation. The story highlights the social inequalities that are so rampant in the modern day setting. The story aims to raise awareness amongst the readers of the concerns like exploitation of children and poor living conditions of those underprivileged in the society. This story is designed to create as well as sustain various scenarios and scenes, adapting to different techniques in a dramatic manner to explore issues, ideas, and texts. The comprehension story aims to assess focus on levels 1-8 students in terms of listening and speaking (Allen et al., 2007). In certain contexts, such a study method aims at engaging imaginative play through enacting of simple characters, as well as situations through everyday gestures, movements, and speech. It also aims at extending experiences and ideas to help the student to adapt to gesture, movement or speech to different scenarios and in simple roles. In the advanced level, the story is purposely designed to practice skills of scanning for specific information in an array of information (Corden, 2000). The learning curriculum used within the United Kingdom National Curriculum puts great emphasis on comprehension creating more continuity within the year groups as the challenging texts go on a series of difficulty levels. Comprehension skills are well developed through the experience of students’ high-quality discussion with their instructors and though discussing and reading stories in the manner of the Oliver Twist Resource. The UK national curriculum requires that every student should be able to read fluently, easily and have a good understanding of the text (Goodwin et al., 2005). Additionally, the curriculum requires that the students should use discussions in their learning in order to elaborate well and describe with clarity their understanding of various ideas and concerns in comprehensions.
The design in comprehension and discussion using stories will help students to understand ideas better while practicing skills of scanning for specific information in an array of information. The design will allow me to help students at every level to create as well as sustain various scenarios and scenes, adapting to different techniques in a dramatic manner to explore issues, ideas, and texts. Using comprehension stories to discuss ideas and concerns raised in stories will allow better understanding of the content is opening up the mind of the student to the reality of the situation in the current world. My design will enable me to teach how to scan relevant information faster in a story and thus improve the levels of understanding. This design aims to assess focus on students in terms of listening and speaking. In certain contexts, such a study design will aim at engaging imaginative play through enacting of simple characters, as well as situations through everyday gestures, movements, and speech. Understand of comprehension stories and being able to derive relevant information is key to meeting the education criteria set by the National Curriculum in the United Kingdom. Linguistic knowledge is drawn from understanding of comprehensions through viable discussions (Aram and Levin, 2004). This design will develop the competence of pupils in their ability to read well and understand while drawing relevant ideas to make deductions. Through discussions, the student will be involved in the development of their understanding of concepts. Here, the student will develop in comprehension skills as well as listening skills.
The Oliver Twist Resource has a series of questions for the student after the reading. These questions provide a platform for both discussion and assessment. Here, the student can exercise liberty of thought while being accurate on the issues presented in the story. The teacher, on the other hand, uses this discussion opportunity to gauge the reaction and level of understanding of different students. The questions in this resource help to collectively develop a mental character through alternative approaches that use variants of role playing dramatic strategies. Performance skills can be quite easily assessed in such a design with the aim to teach the skills and knowledge of developing the competence of pupils in their ability to read well and understand while drawing relevant ideas to make deductions (August and Shanahan, 2006). In the classroom, the Oliver Twist Resource can be well utilized in teaching listening and comprehension. The pupils are engaged in a discussion led by a series of questions where there will be no proceeding from one level to the other unless the questions at the end of every section are answered correctly. This will help the student to remain focused and to be involved in the story through the creation of mental pictures and relating events to the current world. The Oliver Twist Resource will help in impacting this knowledge since the method suggested is quite involving. The model here is set up in a language that is friendly to the child. A correct answer reveals thumbs up a sign that encourage one to remain successful. A wrong answer also results in a well-crafted encouragement to try once more. Here the child is encouraged to stay focused in scanning the most important details of the story. This method of teaching is important in creating awareness to the real life as compared to the fictitious characters in the story. Through a quick mental scan of the details in the story, the child can decipher only the important details so as to answer the questions that follow in a discussion type of way.
Over the past few years, there has been significant growth in the consensus on the variety of skills that sum up the basics for the abilities to read and write effectively. In order for a child to become a skilled reader, they require rich conceptual as well as language knowledge base, deep and broad vocabularies and a certain capability to reason verbally to grasp messages carried in stories without necessarily going through texts for long periods of time (Aram and Levin, 2004). The Oliver Twist Resource is an example of the work of literature that is purposefully designed to meet this goal. In order to have the said skills in reading, listening and comprehending, students must can develop interactively. This gives room for competition and discussion that eventually leads to more understanding of concepts or issues highlighted in a story. The Oliver Twist Resource is meant to meet two concepts of fluency in language and comprehension. After one has attained fluency, the connected experience of absorbing the content and the concepts of critically being aware of what is going on is pivotal in the understanding of the process of reading (Carter, 2000). The Oliver Twist Resource in the aim to provide a platform for both discussion and assessment allows the child to be able to exercise liberty of thought while being accurate on the issues presented in the story. The teacher, on the other hand, uses this discussion opportunity to gauge the reaction and level of understanding of different students. The questions in this resource help to collectively develop a mental character through alternative approaches that use variants of role playing dramatic strategies.
So far, the Oliver Twist Resource is meant to meet two concepts of fluency in language and comprehension. From another perspective, the resource is purposely designed to practice skills of scanning for specific information in an array of information. In trying to achieve fluency and comprehension, a teacher may take different approaches. The Oliver Twist Resource is among the few designs that take into considerations the requirements of the student and the effectiveness of a teacher in attain results in fluency and comprehension in literature according to a set curriculum in the United Kingdom. Teaching using comprehension stories like the Oliver Twist Resource aims to assess focus on different levels of students as dictated by the curriculum in terms of listening and speaking. In certain contexts, such a study design has the aim to engage imaginative play through enacting of simple characters as well as situations through everyday gestures, movements and speech (Allen et al., 2007). It also aims at extending experiences and ideas to help the student to adapt to gestures, movements or speech to different scenarios and in simple roles.
In order to attain fluency, the reading process is already automated to the student. In this stage, the student already recognizes the overpowering influence of words in the text and how much they lead to little decoding of the message. While the fluent reader goes through the task of reading smoothly, they must link words into meaningful sentences instead of trying to get the meaning of every word. Since every fluent reader knows words by sight, they then try to concentrate on the meaning of the texts and the details of the message in the text rather than the process of low order decoding. Comprehension is not the same as fluency. However, fluency is a precondition for comprehension. The Oliver Twist Resource is designed to ensure that the fluent reader begins to capture the concept of comprehension through discussion and a series of questions and answers (Bearne and Watson, 1999). In order to have the said skills in reading, listening and comprehending, students must develop interactively. This gives room for competition and discussion that eventually leads to more understanding of concepts or issues highlighted in a story. The Oliver Twist Resource is meant to meet two concepts of fluency in language and comprehension. In this model, the weak student is easily noted. This gives the teacher more space and room to work on the non-fluent student. The issue with such a student is that they always use a lot of time trying to become consciously attentive to the words and cognitively recognize the words in the text and thereby puts almost zero energy in finding meaning to the text. Attaining comprehension for a non-fluent reader is almost impossible. One cannot decipher a message in the text if they have issues trying to read the words in the first place. On a basic level, a non-fluent reader must attain fluency before they can start comprehending the meaning of the words in the text.
Comprehension goes beyond relating meaning to phrases and words. A skilled reader listens and makes mental depictions of the situations presented in the text. In order for a child to become a skilled reader, they require rich conceptual as well as language knowledge base, deep and broad vocabularies and a certain capability to reason verbally to grasp messages carried in stories without necessarily going through texts for long periods of time (Duffty, 2006). The Oliver Twist Resource is an example of the work of literature that is purposefully designed to meet this goal. Through this model, one can engage in a variety of cognitive processes developed through substantial reading and training. In order to develop in comprehension and fluency, discussions, and planned readings must be done for every concept and information. To absorb literature in a mature way, one must be fluent and have comprehension skills. This allows the process of accurate and automatic flow of meaning and understanding anytime one is reading for information.
ICT as depicted in Oliver Twist Resource is key to the primary classroom in implementing all of the above skills in teaching and imparting knowledge (Bennett, 2004). For instance, the Oliver Twist Resource is in PowerPoint presentation. This allows the instructor to prepare well for every event in the classroom with a well-structured system of questions and expected answers. ICT supports learning and teaching (Wheeler, 2005). With such a presentation, two concepts of fluency in language and comprehension are achieved. From another perspective, the resource is purposely designed to practice skills of scanning for specific information in an array of information. The design in the Oliver Twist Resource aims to assess focus on students in terms of listening and speaking. In certain contexts, such a study design will aim at engaging imaginative play. All in all, the design allows a fluent reader to attain comprehension in literature. Combining ICT and the curriculum used in the United Kingdom creates a design that is solely designed to practice skills of scanning for specific information in an array of information (Bennett, 2004). The student is well equipped to deduce relevant information from the text to further improve their comprehension skills.
In conclusion, the Oliver Twist Resource as a teaching design is designed to create as well as sustain various scenarios and scenes, adapting to different techniques in a dramatic manner to explore issues, ideas and texts. Teaching through the use of comprehension stories aims at assessing the focus on different levels of students in terms of listening and speaking. In certain contexts, such a study method aims at engaging imaginative play through enacting of simple characters, as well as situations through everyday gestures, movements and speech. It also aims at extending experiences and ideas to help the student to adapt to gesture, movement or speech to different scenarios and in simple roles. In the advanced level, the story is purposely designed to practice skills of scanning for specific information in an array of information (Allen et al., 2007). The pupils are engaged in a discussion led by a series of questions where there will be no proceeding from one level to the other unless the questions at the end of every section are answered correctly. This will enable the student to remain focused and to be involved in the story through the creation of mental pictures and relating events to the current world.
Literary Terms in Oliver Twist Novel
Dicken’s Tone Essay
Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist is a narrative of a young orphan who has managed to maintain his unique human kindness despite the circumstances forced upon him. Within the excerpt, Dickens allows the reader insight into the chaotic chase brought upon by Twist’s presumed thievery. Dickens’ employs imagery, mimesis, and fragmented syntax to successfully achieve a fast-paced and tumultuous tone; through the tone, Dickens successfully communicates the thrill and sheer exhaustion of the chase.
Dickens extensive use of hurried diction and informative descriptions work together to compose a piece in which the character’s heighten emotions have become palpable. Dickens creates a catalogue of all the participants, citing them by their profession. Through inclusion of “the tradesman…the carman…the butcher…,”, Dickens provides the piece with a sense of tangibility that would otherwise be absent. As Dicken describes the constant motion of the throng as “tearing, yelling, screaming…”, the degree of carelessness peaks as well. As the mob increases in size, “fresh vigor” is added to the cry. They emphasize the animalistic tendency of these people. Furthermore, the comment on the “passion for hunting” is understood to be Dickens’ social commentary, which serves to further reinforce the primitive quality of the working class. Throughout this game of survival, Twist, the prey, is “panting with exhaustion,” with “agony” and “perspiration” evident in his appearance. This tiresome diction creates a sense of exhaustion as well the crowd’s perverted enjoyment.
Dickens achieves mimesis through his repetitive use of the two-syllable accented phrase “Stop Thief!” which is consistent throughout the entirety of the excerpt. The opening phrase “Stop Thief!”possesses an exclamatory effect, introducing the reader to the fast pace of the excerpt. The sheer brevity of the phrase serves to emphasize the guttural cry ringing out throughout the town, all directed towards Twist. Mimicking the rhythmic heartbeat, as well as the pounding of feet on the pavement, the cries of “Stop thief” act as background accompaniment to the chase. Choosing to open three separate paragraphs with this mantra, Dickens dominates the passage with the mentality of predator versus prey, as well as the excitement of the possibility of capture. Through this literary concept, Dickens ensures that the reader will be reminded of the sole purpose of this excerpt.
Dickens’ varied sentence structure serves to reinforce the overall nervous excitement found in the tone. Continuing throughout the passage, Dickens varies between elongated clauses and abnormally short statements. The contrast between the two emphasize the chaotic nature of this situation; it allows the tone to reflect within. After his initial brief two-syllable exclamation, Dickens follows with elliptical clauses, as a means to overwhelms the reader’s senses. Stating, “The tradesman leaves his counter, and the carman his wagon…; the milkman his pail, the errand boy his parcels….”, Dickens emphasizes the sense of urgency by dropping the verb “leaves”. This syntax serves to augment the sense of anticipation and anxiety resulting from the pursual of Twist. Furthermore, Dickens creates sentences composed almost entirely of action verbs, such as “tearing, yelling, screaming…”, allowing the hurried pace of the piece to become all the more evident. The sheer amount of action verbs overwhelms the reader’s senses. The concluding sentence, which is one elongated clause, serves to make concrete the anticipation felt throughout the entirety of the passage. The variation between syntax emphasizes the intended tone of excitement and thrill.
Throughout the excerpt from Oliver Twist, Dickens employs several literary terms in order to manipulate the tone to it’s intended purpose. The culmination of mimesis, imagery, and varied syntax reinforce the tone of haste as well as the thrill of the chase.
An Importance Of Food in Oliver Twist
The extract from Oliver twist, a prose fiction/novel is set when Oliver and his companions in the workhouse go though there daily feeding of gruel. The primary purpose of the extract is to entertain as it is a novel but the extract also has secondary purposes which are to describe the living conditions for work house children and to criticize them by making the reader side with the children. This is done by Syntactic parallelism ‘desperate with hunger and reckless with misery’ these repeated adjectives hunger, reckless and misery portray how the children are feeling and has more effect on the reader.
The inequality of the Victorian era is presented in this passage by the forms of address used. Oliver addresses the master with sir and bumble addresses Mr limbkins as sir showing a hierarchy. Also the Imperative ‘compose yourself, bumble’ shows the inequality between the master and bumble as the master is ordering him to do something. The semantic field of quantities and size ‘one porringer, and no more’ ‘spoons being as large as the bowls’ represents how little they get and the contrast of master being ‘fat and healthy’ and the children ‘sucking their fingers assiduously’ emphasizes there difference.
You are made to feel sorry for the main character Oliver by the amount of verbs used ‘winked’ ‘nudges’ ‘whispered’ he is given all the pressure by his fellow work house children to ask for more food. The noun excitement from ‘Mr Bumble rushed into the room in great excitement’ shows that Mr Bumble is enjoying the fact he is getting Oliver in trouble and that the children live in quite a hostile environment.
The extract from more pricks than kicks is a short story about a man named Belacqua who is ritualising over his food alone in solitude. It starts with a complex sentence ‘He must be left strictly alone, he must have complete quiet and privacy, to prepare the food for his lunch.’ This also has a whole paragraph to its self and the repetition of the pronoun ‘he’ makes it sound important that he is on his own.
The sequence connectors ‘first’ ‘now’ ‘then’ make it seem controlled, repetitive therefore showing the ritualization of the food and the methodical way it is prepared by Belacqua. The lexical field of violence ‘assassin’, ‘cut’ and ‘snatched’ used portrays Belacqua’s abnormality, also the hint at weapons with lexis like ‘saw’ and ‘long barrel’ adds to this notion. The verb ‘ face’ and adjective ‘ alive’ describing the bread make imagery like it is living and he is making is living sacrifice in the ritual emphasized by the simple sentence ‘ he burnt his offerings’. The third person narration sides with Belacqua and makes the reader sympathise with him because it is not in first person.
The adjectival phrases ‘strictly alone’ and ‘complete quiet and privacy’ tell that Belacqua enjoys the solitude. The use of irony ‘everything must be done properly’ when he has in fact burnt the toast and sees this as proper shows his abnormality to the reader.
Both texts have highlighted the value of food as being very precious. In more pricks than kicks the food is ritualised by the sequence connectors ‘first’ ‘then’ ‘now’ used to show how controlled and methodical he is being with the food. In Oliver twist the value of food to the children in the work house is so much that they seem to be turned feral by not having enough, the verbs ‘devoured’, ‘ voracious and wild’ creates animalistic imagery
Oliver Twist Story Review
Charles Dickens’, Oliver Twist, recounts the tale of Oliver Twist, an orphan boy born in a workhouse. He spends the first nine years in a home and is then transferred to the workhouse where his mother gave birth to him and died soon after. At one point, Oliver is bullied into asking for more gruel at a meal and Mr. Bumble, the “officer” of the workhouse, offers five pounds to anyone that is willing to buy Oliver. He ends up apprenticed by Mr. Sowerberry, a chimney sweep.
After a boy named Noah Claypole talks badly about Oliver’s mother, Oliver attacks him and runs away to London. When reaching London, he meets Jack Dawkins, who takes him to the home of his contributor, Fagin, a career criminal. Oliver is sent on his first pick pocketing after several days of training with two other boys. Oliver is horrified when seeing the other two boys steal a handkerchief and runs away, ending up convicted of the theft. Mr. Brownlow, the man whose handkerchief was stolen, speaks for Oliver and bring him home, nursing him to health. Mr. Brownlow is shocked by the resemblance the young boy has with a portrait of a young woman in his home.
Some time passes, and two workers for Fagin, Bill Sikes and his lover Nancy, capture Oliver and send him back to Fagin. Oliver is sent robbery with Sikes, and is shot in his arm. He is taken to Mrs. Maylie and her adopted niece Rose, the residents off the home of the attempted heist, and is cared for. As he heals, Oliver grows fond of the two ladies and stays with them in the countryside during the summer. But a mysterious man named Monks and Fagin are set on recapturing Oliver. We learn that Oliver’s mother left a golden locket that was taken by Monks and destroyed after her death. The Maylies return to London and Rose meets with Nancy who gives details on a conversation between Fagin and Monks.
Once word of Nancy’s actions reach Sikes, he brutally murders her and flees London. Pursued by guilt, he inadvertently hangs himself while trying to escape. Mr. Brownlow confronts Monks on Oliver’s lineage, and it is revealed that Monks and Oliver are brothers. Their father, Mr. Leeford, was unhappily in an arranged marriage and had an affair with Oliver’s mother, Agnes Fleming. Monks has been pursuing Oliver in hopes of making Oliver unable to share the family inheritance. However, he is forced by Mr. Brownlow to sign over Oliver’s share. It is also discovered that Rose is Agnes’s sister, therefore, Oliver’s aunt. Fagin is caught by the police and sentenced to the death penalty. Mr. Brownlow adopts Oliver, and he and the Maylies retire to the countryside.
Personal Virtues and Social Influences: The Presentation of Identity in Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist is a novel that evades easy categorisation; what begins as a political satire of the 1834 Poor Law morphs into a detective novel which in turn becomes a melodramatic thriller with a surprisingly tidy ending. While Dickens juggles contrasting tones in many of his novels, as one of his earlier works Oliver Twist has been particularly noted for consisting of “a patchwork of genres” (Wood, 2014). Therefore, it is no surprise that for a novel which itself undergoes a series of identity crises, issues to do with identity become a reoccurring theme of the narrative. Indeed, our understanding of the social message of the novel rests upon the way in which Dickens frames identity. Strangely, for a novel which seems concerned with promoting the social message that the poor are not inherently morally inferior, Dickens presents an ambivalent picture of the nature of identity. This essay will address how Dickens presents elements of socially constructed and crowd identity while also reconciling this with ideas of innate goodness and morality. Perhaps the most well-known cultural staple from Oliver Twist is the eponymous hero, who has become almost synonymous with our idea of the orphan. Yet ironically it is this projection of an ‘orphan’ identity that Dickens critiques within the novel, as characters constantly project their prejudices onto Oliver due to his parentless, low socio-economic status. It is only in the first chapter, whereby Oliver has not yet been clothed that he is free from constraints of societal identity, as Dickens states “he might have been the child of a nobleman or a beggar”. This suggests that Dickens views class identity as something which is fluid and socially learned rather than inherent. The abuse Oliver faces in the workhouse and later on the streets of London is symptomatic of an unjust societal stigma faced by those on the bottom rungs of Victorian society, and ultimately this stigma revolves around a false conception that poverty correlates to inherent immorality. This was particularly pertinent in the aftermath of the 1834 Poor Law, which sought to lessen the cost of looking after the ever-growing number of paupers by establishing workhouses (May, 1987). They also wielded tremendous power to individuals such as that of Mr Bumble. Indeed, even Oliver’s name is chosen by Mr Bumble: his nominal identity is given to him by the system that abuses him. Moreover, the superficiality of social identity is illustrated by how easy it is for one character to adopt another identity through the means of simply changing their clothes. For instance, Nancy’s adoption of middle class attire completely alters the way society views her, allowing her the privilege of respect and trust amongst strangers who would otherwise have demonised her for her prostitute identity. Of all the characters in the novel it is Nancy who is perhaps the most complex, as she is – at least by Victorian standards at least – an immoral woman, yet she is also deeply sympathetic. While most of the characters in the novel fall into a label of either good, evil or comic, Nancy defies these labels. The reader empathises with her predicament, whereby her toxic upbringing has altered her identity to the point of no return. The contemporary reactions to Dickens’ inclusion of a ‘fallen woman’ confirm the prejudice that was rampant within 1840s Victorian society, as even his friend John Forster attempted to discourage him from publication due to its taboo nature (Bowen). By providing a sympathetic platform for the identities of marginalised characters, and highlighting how these identities are, at least to an extent, socially constructed, Dickens’ opens a dialogue on how the poor and vulnerable should be treated. While Dickens may see elements of class identity as learned, he also suggests that environment can alter the identity to the extent that it is irreversible or as Nancy claims: “I am chained to my old life”. Dickens uses her as an obvious foil to Rose, yet had her socio-economic situations been different it is possible that Nancy’s self-identity and ultimate fate would have also been different. Not only does Dickens describe how identity is constricted within a classist society, he also illustrates how individual identity can be lost to the crowd. A single accusation of stealing results in Oliver being chased by an angry mob, whose actions are portrayed in almost rhythmic lexis: “pell-mell, helter-skelter, slap-dash”. The mob is depersonalising in its reduction of different facets of society into one antagonistic mass. The visceral reaction of the mob against Oliver highlights how illicit or transgressive identities threaten those who have conformed to their societal roles. Furthermore, in exploring the crowd mentality of Oliver Twist, the city of London cannot be ignored. The urban landscape plays a major role in the collective identity of Dickens’ characters. Oliver refers to the rancid urban setting of the slums he visits with Mr Sowerberry as having reduced its inhabitants to animalistic qualities; they are a part of the decaying landscape, even suggesting that they “seemed so like the rats he had seen outside”. During the 19th century rapid industrialisation had driven many rural migrants to the cities resulting in cramped, squalid conditions, as historian Terry Trainor points out that in 1840s London “one room living was the norm for working class families.” (Trainor, 2011) Despite this harsh reality, the idea of domestic bliss and the importance of the house was becoming increasingly popular during the 1840s, and thus home life became an intrinsic part of early Victorian identity. Dickens’ contrasts the decay of city life and “men who have lived in crowded, pent-up streets, through lives of toil, and who have never wished-for change”, with the idealised pastoral setting where Oliver finally joins a stable family unit. Therefore, it becomes clear that Dickens sees identity and environment as closely interlinked entities, with Dickens making an implicit link between urban sprawl and the spike in criminality and immorality. While it would at first appear that Dickens is arguing against the notion that people are inherently predisposed to crime, and that a mixture of prejudice and socio-economic stances lead those to crime, this message is undermined by Oliver’s apparently inherent identity and the resolution of the novel. Despite growing up in a workhouse Oliver’s lexicon is noticeably middle class. Indeed, the infamous line “please, sir, I want some more”, while being a radical act of defiance, is almost painfully polite, especially when contrasted with the Artful Dodgers colloquialisms. Even if it did not transpire that Oliver was related to the Maylies, the dissonance between his social environment and his mannerisms would be reason enough to accuse Dickens of patronisation of the working classes. Indeed, much like contemporary thinkers such as Carlyle who labelled the working classes “wild inarticulate souls”, Dickens writes with a prejudice which is ironic considering his reputation as a defender of the working class (Carlyle, 1839). Crucially, the fact that Oliver does turn out to have descended from a middle-class background only confirms that the novel is, at least to some extent, what critic John Carey calls “a hymn to the purity of the middle-class soul”. Oliver’s identity remains middle class and static throughout, with Dickens contradicting his previous suggestions that social identity was purely superficial. It could also be argued that Dickens is guilty of the unjust social labelling which he attempts to critique. The very names of his fictional characters are infamous for their “character revealing” nature (Paroissien, 2000, p80), for example Mr Bumble’s name derives from the word bumptious, reflecting his arrogant persona (ibid). Therefore, while within the diegesis of Oliver Twist the reader may be implored to look beyond the social confines of a name or label, Dickens himself thrives on this caricature-aesthetic. This is most evident in his depiction of Fagin as the epitome of anti-Semitic stereotypes, indeed he is referred to mainly in the novel as “the Jew”. While Dickens himself claimed that “I have no feeling towards the Jewish people but a friendly one” (Hartley, 2012). Fagin’s whole persona is defined by his cultural identity and his apparent unchangeable physiognomy. Indeed, Dickens was a contemporary of Johann Kaspar Lavater who argued that physical traits were intrinsically linked to traits of character. This not only contradicts the idea of identity being a social construct, it also questions whether a character such as Fagin can even be held morally responsible if he is inherently immoral. To complicate matters further, Oliver’s own angelic beauty is noted by the middle-class characters, such as Rose and Mr Brownlowe in the novel who, with little inspection, are able to determine Oliver’s true nature through observation of just his face. For an author that is so concerned with the use of art as a vehicle for social change, his prejudiced presentations of identity have the potential, by his own artistic philosophy, to be socially damaging. As a contemporary review at the time enthused “Mr Dickens characters, as all the world knows, pass their names into our language, and become types” (Anon. 1971). It is important to note that Dickens’ portrayal of identity in Oliver Twist is not consistently socially progressive, indeed characters such as Fagin are both regressive and damaging. Ultimately even if we are to accept that Dickens’ conception of inherited identity does not lessen the social message of the novel, the problem of Oliver’s actual characterisation remains. Ironically for a figure that has become this iconic within popular culture – resulting in the novel being the most screen adapted Dickens novel of all time (John, 2010) – Oliver lacks personal growth or a distinct identity that is separable from his own moral goodness. Critic J Mullan asserts that “the orphan is above all a character out of place, forced to make his or her own home in the world,” yet Oliver does not even meet this basic criterion. He remains a protagonist who lacks both agency in the main machinations of the plot nor does he possess a distinct voice. His eventual comfortable position with the Maylies comes about due to the work of other characters, such as Mr Brownlowe. Other than his fight with Noah Claypole, Oliver demonstrates little active resistance, in contrast to side characters such as Nancy who both propel the plot forward and yet possess identities that are more morally complex. The case can even be made Bill Sykes’s dog displays a higher level of emotional complexity and tangible identity than protagonist Oliver, who faints and cries his way through the entire plot. Perhaps a better way of exploring Oliver’s self-identity is to treat him as a narrative device rather than a realistic depiction of an individual. Oliver was described by Dickens himself in the 1842 introduction to the 3rd edition as “good surviving through every circumstance”. In this context, he becomes more of an entity that allows the reader to understand the moral complexities of London through the lens of an innocent. What makes Oliver’s story interesting is his interactions with the characters around him. As critic Ruth Richardson astutely puts it, Oliver Twist is a “modern fairy-tale” which deals mainly in dualities of good and evil while at the same time being relevant to contemporary Victorian society (Richardson, 2012). The way in which Oliver is treated because of his assumed identity as an orphan, irrespective of his self-identity, remains a potent criticism of the treatment of the poor. Arguably it invites the middle class Victorian mother or father to consider the treatment of their own child if they were to be brought up in similar social conditions, helping to ignite a social consciousness against the cruelties of a corrupted system unable to deal with the most vulnerable in society. Bibliography
Wood, C. (2017). Oliver Twist: a patchwork of genres. [online] The British Library. Available at: https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/oliver-twist-a-patchwork-of-genres [Accessed 12 Oct. 2017]. Dickens, C. and Rogers, R. (2008). Oliver Twist. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Richardson, R. (2012). Dickens & the Workhouse. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mullan, J. (2017). Orphans in fiction. [online] The British Library. Available at: https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/orphans-in-fiction [Accessed 12 Oct. 2017]. Bowen, J. (n.d.). Oliver Twist: depicting crime and poverty. Available at: https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/videos/oliver-twist-depicting-crime-and-poverty [Accessed 12 Oct. 2017]. Levin, M. (2014). Condition of england question. 1st ed. [Place of publication not identified]: Palgrave Macmillan. Paroissien, D. (2000). The companion to Great expectations. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. Dickens, C. and Hartley, J. (n.d.). The selected letters of Charles Dickens. John, J. (n.d.). Dickens and mass culture.
Anti-Semitism as Personified in Fagin from Oliver Twist
In English novels, Jewish characters have been routinely described as greedy, nit-picking, and stingy misers. They are usually but not always merchants, money lenders, or bill brokers—Shylock from The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, Isaac from Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, and Fagin from Oliver Twist, among other Jewish characters, are the most well-known examples of such racial and cultural stereotype. Oliver Twist is the second novel by Charles Dickens and was first published as a serial 1837-9. Through the crafty description of the orphan Oliver Twist’s uneasy life, Dickens reflects the reality of the massive low class poor people at that period of time. And the villainous character in the novel—Fagin, and his Jewish identity have always been controversial to readers across cultures and generations. In this essay I will talk about anti-Semitism in Oliver Twist as personified in Fagin. I will present the difference in attitude towards Jews as seen in Fagin through the comparison between Dickens’s original novel and other later adapted versions—specifically, David Lean’s 1948 film adaptation and Roman Polanski’s 2005 film adaptation. Also I will demonstrate the causes as well as the consequences of different stages of attitude towards Jews in these versions of Oliver Twist made in three different period of time.
In Dickens’ Archetypal Jew, Lauriat Lane makes several arguments. First, he claims that Dickens follows the “anti-Semitic tradition in English literature” by making the villainous character from Oliver Twist—Fagin as a Jew (94 Lane). However, Lane also claims that Dickens shows himself “in no way free from the general attitude and prejudice of his age” (95). Lane claims that Dickens’s Jewish character has basis in reality. He is certain true for that he mentioned in the preface to Oliver Twist, Dickens aims to make the novel realistic—“to draw a knot of such associates in crime as really did exist…to show them as they really were” (). Despite Dickens’s aim of being realistic, Lane denies the character of Fagin as a pure realistic study of Jewishness. The evidence Lane offers is a letter Dickens wrote to Mrs. Eliza Davis, of Fagin, “that that class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew” (94). Also, “a few passages from Dickens’s another letter reflect the same prejudice. On 12 September 1843 he wrote to Thomas Hood that one Mr. Colburn had taken ‘a money lending, bill-broking, Jew clothes-bagging, Saturday-night pawn-broking advantage of your temporary situation’” (95). All these suggest that, not only does Dickens follow the anti-Semitic tradition in his writing, but he also stands for a firm stereotypical attitude towards Jews in reality. However, Dickens at his time, was not the only anti-Semitist in reality. Historically, anti-Semitism has been a long-existing racial prejudice both in literature and reality.
In order to better comprehend the meaning and causes of anti-Semitism, it is necessary to grasp its opposite, the meaning of Semitism, or a more proper word would be philo-Semitism or Judeophilia, both words refer to people with “an interest in, respect for, and appreciation of the Jewish people, historical significance, and the positive impacts of Judaism on the world, particularly on the part of a gentile” . However, this ideological stereotype, as the French Jewish literary critic Bernard Lazare convincingly argues in the preface of his book Anti-Semitism: Its history and causes, “was not born without cause” (5 Lazare). He noticed that wherever the Jews settled, anti-Semitism develops. Also be noticed that he disputes the word anti-Semitism to describe this certain attitude towards Jews. He claims he’d rather call it anti-Judaism, for which is a more accurate word. Various views have been given to explain the cause of anti-Semitism. The religious theory from the old time is that, from the Christian perspective Jews are the “killers” of Jesus progenitors of Jesus; from the Judaism perspective they arrogantly declare themselves to be the possessor of a chosen people mentality. The racial theory propagated by the Nazi is that Jews are considered as an inferior race. The conspiracist theory claims that Jews are hated because they are the cause for most of the world’s problems—Adolf Hitler frequently denounced international capitalism and communism as being part of a Jewish conspiracy. In the original novel, Fagin is described as “a very old shriveled Jew, whose villainous looking and repulsive face was obscured by a quantity of matted red hair” (63; ch.8). Such an apparently stereotypical description about Jewishness Dickens made, was not on a personal basis. In the Victorian Britain, anti-Semitism was considered as a social convention—Oliver Twist grew out of an era and a literary tradition which was “predominantly anti-Semitic” (Stone 225). As Harry Stone has suggested, Dickens “did exhibit anti-Semitism and this anti-Semitism was typical of his age” (225). Laws, parliamentary debates, newspapers, magazines, songs, and plays, as well as novels, reflect the latent anti-Semitism which was a part of the Victorian heritage. In 1830 a Jew could not open a shop within the city of London, be called to the bar, receive a university degree, or sit in Parliament…In 1830 the majority of England’s twenty to thirty thousand Jews earned their living through buying and selling clothes, peddling, and money-lending. Portraits in fiction of Jewish cloth dealers staggering under huge bags of rags, bearded peddlers haggling with country wives, and miserly usurers gloating over their secret treasuries were given reality not only by a long literary tradition but by the intermittent evidence of the London streets. (225)
Another factor that contributes to the anti-Semitism in the Victorian era as represented in Oliver Twist, is Dickens’s Christianity. Susan Mayer argues in Antisemitism and Social Critique in Dickens’s Oliver Twist that Dickens “invokes Christianity” as a moral center in Oliver Twist (239 Mayer). Various discussions on Dickens’s Christianity are employed as evidence: Writing in 1962, John Gross, noting Dickens’s interest in redemption and resurrection, commented that Dickens’s Christianity “is more relevant than one tends to think nowadays” (xii). Twenty years later, Andrew Sanders again noted that the combination “of a sincere but simple enough faith with a general refusal to proclaim it from the house tops… [has] rendered Dickens’s insistent Christianity…irrelevant to those modern critical discussion of his work. (Resurrection xi) Mayer also claims that, in Oliver Twist, Dickens “emphatically criticizes what he represents as unchristian in the behavior of the English towards the poor” (241 Mayer). “In the novel’s opening chapters, set in the unnamed town of Oliver’s birth, make an criticism of those who created the new Poor Laws and those who justify, administer, and benefit from them, as well as of all the indifferent bystanders who profit from, or do not help to remedy, the situation of the poor” (241-245). Mayer perceives these flaws of both individual and institutional morality as the “failure of Christianity” (242). Lean’s 1948 film adaptation follows George Cruikshank’s illustration—in the film adaptation, Fagin played by Alec Guinness, is of a repulsive look along with the enormous hooked nose, chipped teeth, shaggy eyebrows, and matted hair, which represent the conventional Jewish racial stereotype at the time. This anti-Semitic portray also resulted protests by Jewish objectors from the new world to the Europe continent. Concerning the 1948 film adaptation with historical background at that time, Liora Brosh has given a context for comprehending Lean’s cinematic representation of Fagin and the audiences’ view (especially the Jewish protests) of it: In a departure from the novel, Lean’s idea is less about the private domestic sphere and more about British collective identity. … Lean’s Oliver Twist is obsessed with those characters who subvert national boundaries. Both Fagin and the prostitute Nancy are represented as untrustworthy and not reliably British. … Even though Lean is said to have relied on Cruikshank for his film, unlike in the illustrations, Fagin is not small and lanky. … In the illustration Cruikshank drew for the novel, Fagin is thinner, smaller, and shorter than any other adult character, especially Sikes. … This film was made when the Second World War was a recent and vivid memory, the British Empire was disintegrating, and Jews were fighting the British to establish their an independent Jewish state. … These new historical contexts changed the conventional trope of the cowardly feminized Jew represented in Dickens. (Brosh 94-95)
As Brosh and other sources have explained, the anti-Semitic portrait of Fagin in Lean’s 1948 film adaptation is set as a political propaganda to serve the diplomatic demand—Zionist emerged in the late 19th century. “After the death of the moderate pro-British Zionist leader’s son, also with the anti-Zionism policies in Britain, the leadership of the Zionist movement passed to the Jewish agency led by the anti-British socialist party” (125-135 Cohen). In an effort to win the independence of the establishing Jewish state in Palestine, Zionist waged a guerrilla war against Britain. Like 1948 film adaptation, multiple later adaptations on Oliver Twist were also widely criticized. In the London stage premiere of Lionel Bart’s 1960 musical adaptation, Fagin played by the actor Ron Moody received criticism of his “stereotypical nasal infection and chanted songs in the style of Jewish folk music” (Gross). To avoid the controversy that have occurred to those previous adaptations, Carol Reed’s 1968 film version made a bit of adjustment—“instead, he played with gay stereotypes, mincing his way through ‘Pick a Pocket or Two,’ and twirling a frilly pink parasol in ‘I’d Do Anything’” (Gross). Unlike Lean’s 1948 film adaptation and the other previous versions of Oliver Twist, Roman Polanski takes an obviously different approach in making of his 2005 film adaptation of Oliver Twist. His idea of approaching the character Fagin was revealed in a telephone interview where he said “We’ve lived long enough to know that certain things should be done for certain reasons. Without analyzing it. Which would be embarrassing, you know?” (Gross). When dealing with Fagin, Polanski completely abandoned the anti-Semitic characteristics that earlier adaptations employed. He identifies Fagin neither as Jewish nor the usual evil exploiter of young boys. He focused on the both evilness and goods—the dualistic nature of human-being in shaping Fagin–“There is no completely bad man,” he added. “Fagin, with all his villainy, is still giving the children some kind of home, you know. What was happening to these kids in the street was just unbearable” (Gross). For him, Fagin is simply a lost citizen who is morally corrupted due to the social conditions, and meanwhile there is goodness with this character.
Polanski’s film adaptation reflects both how contemporary people perceive the general attitude towards Jews today, and how Jewish individual/community respond to the anti-Semitism as they were treated with once upon time (Polanski is Jewish himself). Conventional attitude towards Jewish people and organizations, and the behaviors, ideologies, and policies of Jewish individual/organizations, both have mutual impact to each other. Just as Raphael Magarik has argued, “denying that Israel’s behavior has any causal in anti-Semitism is deeply counter-intuitive. This summer, Israel fought a war and anti-Semitism surged in Europe—were those two facts supposed to be a coincidence?” (n. pag. Magarik). Magarik’s detail-lacked argument is valid but it is also very weak. What can be discovered in this argument is that the contemporary people, in this context, unlike the people in the Victorian era, define and practice anti-Semitism based on not the Jewish race or the past stereotype, but the actions taken by Jewish people/organizations towards others. In this context, the contemporary anti-Semitism distinctly differs from the past ones, which are based on racial or religious hatred. The comparison of Dickens’s novel, Lean’s and Polanski’s film adaptations reveal the evolution of attitude towards Jewishness from the Victorian era, to the Post-War period, and finally to the contemporary world. And the re-organization of the meaning of anti-Semitism helps to clarify and classify Fagin, in different versions of Oliver Twist, as the representation of attitude towards Jewishness. From Victorian era to today, anti-Semitism, or the attitude towards Jewish individual-organization has gone through three main stages, in the Victorian era, anti-Semitic attitude was recognized as a social convention, Jews are generally treated with injustice. There for “Dickens shows himself in no way free from the general attitude and prejudice of his age” (95 Lane). In the post war period, due to the anti-British Zionist organizations, the establishment of Israel that weakened Britain’s impact of the Middle East region, anti-Semitism as personified in Fagin from Lean’s Oliver Twist film, was served as a political propaganda, just like the U.S’s and Soviet Union’s political propaganda of each other during the Cold-War period.
At this stage, anti-Semitism existed not as a socially accepted convention but merely an ideology to impact the regional and international relation. Move to the contemporary world, after the Third Reich’s failure of dictatorship. Anti-Semitism as a stereotypical attitude towards Jewish culture/religion was eventually denounced by most parts of the globe. Anti-Israeli attitude remains not as an extension of the past racially stereotyped ideology but a form of rational, undeniable pacifism. Polanski’s Oliver Twist film was able to present, in his ideal, the reconciliation between the non-Jewish world and the Jewish community. For the matter of anti-Semitism, the former disputes, the latter lets go.
1. Brosh, Liora. Screening Novel Women: From British Domestic Fiction to Film. N.p.: Palgrave Mcmillan, 2008. Print. 2. Cohen, Michael. The making of British policy, 1936-1945. New York: n.p., 1979. Print. 3. Gross, Michael Joseph. “A Face Lift for Wretched Old Fagin.” New York Times [New York] 21 Aug. 2005: n. pag. Print. 4. Lazare, Bernard. Antisemitism: Its History and Causes, 1894. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print. Stone, Harry. “Dickens and the Jews.” Victorian Studies 2 (1959): 223-53. Print. – Lane, Lauriat, Jr. “Dickens’ Archetypal Jew.” Modern Language Association 73.1 (1958): 94-100. Print. 5. Magarik, Raphael. “Do Jewish Actions Ever Cause Anti-Semitism.” Forward. – N.p., 24 Sept. 2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.
Gender Inequality In Oliver Twist
In what is arguably his best known work, Charles Dickens addresses the blatant gender inequality that ran rampant in the 1800s. Oliver Twist confronts the disheartening public view of not only women in lower social classes, like Nancy, but also the stereotypes placed on the actions of women in the upper classes, such as Rose and Mrs. Bedwin. Though he may exemplify this inequality through several female characters and their interactions with their male counterparts, Dickens is one of the first to paint these women as at least somewhat conscious beings who are capable of some thought process. He approached his female characters with an attitude of change from their “roles.” Instead of seeing England as “a patriarchal model which reserved power and privilege for men,” (Marsh) he chose to give his female characters more of a role in their own lives, allowing them to develop as actual figures rather than slump in the background, at least in his literature. However, Dickens was well aware of the expectations of women in 19th century England: he knew that women were considered “physically weaker yet morally superior to men” and that they were considered to be “best suited to the domestic sphere” (Hughes). By accepting these stereotypes, Dickens is able to both prove them wrong and to write strong female characters who are capable of handling issues such as prostitution, loyalty, family, and injustice. He is clear, however, that Oliver Twist does not take place in a fairytale version of England, writing other characters as they would be in the set time period.
Gender inequality in Oliver Twist cannot be discussed without raising the adjacent issue of social inequality. Though upper class women were not treated as equal to the men in their lives, they at least received an education and were spoken to with some level of respect, unlike their lower class equivalents. Even when providing valid and important information Nancy is treated with little to no respect, being told “I will not suffer the young lady to go any farther. Many people would have distrusted you too much to have come even so far, but you see I am willing to humour you,” by Mr. Brownlow (Dickens 491). He is clearly favoring Rose, the “young lady”, by not making her “go any further”, while at the same time disrespecting Nancy, someone who is obviously part of the lower class, by speaking about distrust. Though Mr. Brownlow may have an actual reason to make this judgment, since Nancy was late to their initial meeting, he is largely basing his judgment on her social status and her “occupation.” True to the time period, Brownlow believes that Nancy is a disease ridden prostitute, and sees her as “…the shadow that haunted the well-run middle-class home” (Hughes). In this same passage he continues to question Nancy about their location: “…for what purpose can you have brought us to this strange place?” (Dickens 491) Nancy, not the complete idiot Brownlow believes her to be, is well aware that Fagin or Sikes could be watching if they were to speak “where it is light, and there is something stirring…” (Dickens 491) as Brownlow keeps suggesting. However, even as Nancy voices these concerns, speaking of “…horrible thoughts of death, and shrouds with blood upon them…” and believing she “…saw ‘coffin’ written in every page of the book…” (Dickens 492) Brownlow refuses to listen, citing her imagination and stating that coffins pass him often as well. Furthermore, by accompanying Rose to this meeting Brownlow is acting as if she cannot handle herself alone at night. Mr. Brownlow is not considered a “bad” character, but his actions involving Nancy and Rose make us question his opinion of women, and whether or not he finds them capable of anything. This is not saying that he thinks they are lacking intelligence. But does he believe that women are capable of completing anything without at least partial assistance from a man?
Dickens was no stranger to prostitution and the issues that revolved around it, but not in the “normal” way of being a customer. He was responsible for cofounding the Magdalen House, preparing former prostitutes for a new life in Australia; even though he was not the first to try to reform prostitutes, he at least knew that they were not the only cause of the “‘problems’ associated with prostitution” (Hughes). This reasonably assures some balance in his writing, as does the fact that he lived a life similar to Oliver’s, working in Warren’s blacking factory due to his father’s bad debt and living in Portsmouth, a city on the south coast of England (BBC News). His credibility is now evident not only because of his childhood, but also because of the imagery within his writing and how it coincides with England’s environment at this time. Each scene is expertly described to make the reader feel as though they are with Noah at the Thames, watching “…necessarily unseen by any others on the stairs who chance to be above him, if only a step…” (Dickens 490). Then, just a moment later, they are with Nancy, hearing the “something so uncommon in her manner…” and having “ the blood chilled within him” (Dickens 492). Dickens is sure to immerse his reader in these surroundings and not allow the reader to leave until the story is over. This is concurs with Dickens’s master use of syntax, defined as the way in which linguistic elements are put together to form constituents. Though his detailed descriptions may be attributed to the fact he was paid by the word, it does not mean he didn’t use his words well. His descriptions of locations as well as characters are incredible, and image inspiring; “’he has a lurking walk…his eyes are sunk in his head so much deeper than any other man’s…his lips are discoloured and disfigured with the marks of teeth…’” (Dickens 496). These are only partial descriptors, yet Charles Dickens creates an entire character. This character is already shady, but it is easy to picture him slipping into shadows and disappearing without issue, all from portions of Dickens’ descriptions.
Charles Dickens was by no means a modern feminist; in fact, there are accusations of him abusing women and cheating on his wife with multiple younger partners. His belief that women should be angels of the house could never coincide with feminist ideals. However, his writings gave feminists a platform to argue against the blatant gender inequality in nineteenth century England. His vibrant descriptions of the brutal behavior towards lower class women, compared to the simple disrespect seen by their upper class counterparts, portrays both the gender inequality and the social inequality within such detrimental distinctions. Dickens was well aware of the social stigma surrounding prostitutes and the “problems” they faced, but still chose to remain accurate to the time period and to create a strong, lower class character who, in the end, helped bring Oliver happiness at the expense of her own life.
Citations: Marsh, Jan. “Victoria and Albert Museum.” , Online Museum, Web Team, [email protected] Victoria and Albert Museum, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. Hughes, Kathryn. “Gender Roles in the 19th Century.” British Library. British Library, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. “Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870).” BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2015. Dickens, Charles. “Chapter 1, 41-48.” Oliver Twist. New York: Knopf, 1992. N. pag. Print.
Oliver Twist: Fact through Fiction
Oliver Twist is a criticism of the society in which Charles Dickens lived. The book directly criticized the Poor Laws and attempted to inspire readers of the middle and upper classes to improve the intolerable conditions in which Dickens himself had been raised. Through the novel’s unforgettable characters, Dickens humanized a marginalized social class, shedding light on the grim nature of their lives. In the descriptions of the workhouses and slums of London, Dickens forced his readers to acknowledge the sordid living conditions of the poor. Finally, Dickens uses the plot of Oliver Twist to reveal the flaws of a system that kept the poor trapped in a seemingly permanent state of squalor.Charles Dickens learned about the dark and difficult lives of the poor through his own childhood experience. This experiential knowledge put him in the perfect position to become an advocate for the poor years later via Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and other well known novels. According to the article “Bentham, Dickens, and the Uses of the Workhouse,” The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 attempted to make poverty relief entirely dependent on dwelling in the workhouse, therefore distinguishing between the worthier poor who were willing to work and the lazier, undeserving people (Stokes 711). Unfortunately, even those who worked in factories and workhouses had their living on very difficult terms. The preface to the Norton Critical Edition of Oliver Twist notes that “The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834…like much ‘welfare reform,’ made living conditions for the poor worse than they had ever been and made it even more difficult for the working poor to get assistance” (Kaplan vi). The workhouses were deliberately made quite miserable by employing workhouse masters to treat the workers very harshly. The Dickens family was in such a desperate situation that young Charles became a victim of child labor at age twelve. The long and strenuous days that he spent in the workhouse while his father was in a debtor’s prison left a lasting impression on Dickens that haunted him through his entire adult life, and served as the inspiration for his efforts towards labor condition reforms. Peter Stokes says, “By way of protest against the Act, Dickens published Oliver Twist…” (711). While the misfortune of being poor was often looked upon as a natural and unchangeable position, Dickens held that poverty did not have to be permanent. Hence “Oliver Twist is the first and perhaps most powerful work of fiction to attempt to bring to the attention of those who read such books the misery that daily life is for the large numbers of people caught up in generational cycles of poverty and despair and in the selfishness and stupidity of government and its agencies” (Kaplan iv). By weaving fact and fiction together in Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens creates a masterpiece novel that combines a compelling story with an effective social and political agenda. One of the most remarkable traits of Oliver Twist is the manner in which Dickens molds stereotyped members of the lower social classes into genuine, feeling people. Orphans, prostitutes, and juvenile delinquents make up some of the most important characters of Oliver Twist. The article “The Social and Political Issues” states that “In all his fiction, there was a purpose in his portraits of the poor” (Engel 495). George Gissing claims that Oliver Twist had two moral purposes: the first being to expose the injustice of the Poor Law Act, and the second to accurately portray the lives of thieves in London. These two views went hand in hand for Dickens, who believed that the high crime rate was a direct result of the Poor Law system (421). While the social outcasts of Oliver Twist are not all presented in glamorous ways, Dickens brings a level of humanity to these characters that make them unforgettable. Oliver, the protagonist of Oliver Twist, is the most constant and unchanging character of anyone else in the story. He is unrelentingly pure of heart and practically immune to the influences of his surrounding environments. With such a strong and unyielding spirit, it is interesting that Oliver happens to be an orphan– the bane of society. When Oliver’s mother dies only minutes after his birth, he “was badged and ticketed, and fell into his place at once—a parish child—the orphan of a workhouse—the humble half-starved drudge—to be cuffed and buffeted through the world—despised by all, and pitied by no one” (Dickens 19). As a young child with little control over his own destiny, Oliver is very much at the mercy of those around him, “like an object that is taken up, handled, and put in place rather than an individual who controls his own movement” (Duffy 405). The unfortunate circumstances of Oliver’s life make him entirely pitiable. When we meet Oliver in chapter two, he is nine years old, raised without the affection of a mother or any other form of family. He longs for connections with others, as Dickens reveals Oliver’s thoughts at leaving for another workhouse: “Wretched as were the little companions in misery he was leaving behind, they were the only friends he had ever known; and a sense of his loneliness in the great wide world sank into his heart for the first time” (Dickens 24). Throughout the novel, the forces of good and evil seem to be battling over Oliver’s destiny, but “what threatens Oliver seems more powerful and real than what saves him” (Kaplan iv). For example, it is certainly a fortunate chance that Oliver meets Mr. Brownlow—an encounter which sets in motion the discovery of Oliver’s true identity. However, whatever rare benevolence Oliver receives from kind strangers is tirelessly contested by the schemes of Fagin, Sikes, and Monks, who are determined to keep Oliver from any better life than that of a common criminal. By creating Oliver, the hero of the story, as an orphan, Dickens insisted that his readers consider the wretched lives that these children endured. One minor orphan character is little Dick, Oliver’s dearest friend. Though he plays a very small role in the story, his character serves to deliver another blow against the notion of orphans as an inconvenient scourge on society. In his parting words to Oliver, Dick states that he will not be happy before his own death delivers him to a better place. He states “I dream so much of Heaven and Angels; and kind faces that I never see when I am awake” (Dickens 59). Dick and Oliver’s relationship is possibly the purest and most beautiful portrayal of love in the whole story as two young boys who have never been shown love still love one another. Oliver remembers Dick’s blessing upon him his entire life, and Dick’s dying wish is to let Oliver know that “I was glad to die when I was very young for, perhaps, if I had lived to be a man, and had grown old, my little sister, who is in Heaven, might forget me or be unlike me, and it would be so much happier if we were both children there together” (121). Although he does not feature prominently in the novel, Dick impresses upon the reader that this orphan is a victim of a very unlucky hand of fate, and was a better child than his world deserved. While the choice of an orphan as the hero of the story may be unconventional, even more surprising is the supporting character Nancy, the ruined mistress of the despicable Bill Sikes. She is described as having “free and agreeable manners” (Dickens 70) and a rather disheveled appearance, indirectly identifying her as a prostitute. According to Robert R. Garnett, “Prostitution thrived in Britain’s growing cities…offering a lurid, low life allure” (497) and was one of the few ways a destitute young woman could make a living. From Nancy’s own words we learn that she was once one of Fagin’s subjects, trained in the art of making her living off the streets. Nancy exclaims to Fagin “It is my living; and the cold, wet dirty streets are my home; and you’re the wretch that drove me to them long ago; and that’ll keep me there, day and night, day and night, till I die” (Dickens 116). In the same way that Oliver faintly regrets leaving behind the urchins that had been his friends at the workhouse, Nancy cannot pull herself away from her life of crime and abuse, even when she recognizes the depravity of her position. Nancy realizes that,“vile as those schemes were, desperate as were their originators, and bitter as were her feelings towards the Jew, who had led her, step by step, deeper and deeper down into an abyss of crime and misery, whence was no escape; still there were times when, even towards him, she felt some relenting…but these were the mere wanderings of a mind unable wholly to detach itself from old companions and associations…she had refused a refuge from all the guilt and wretchedness that encompassed her” (296). Despite Nancy’s associations, profession, or past actions, she becomes relatable and sympathetic in her sheer incapacity to free herself from the only life she has ever known. More importantly, Nancy becomes Oliver’s savior, and the novel’s heroine, when she sacrifices her own life that Oliver may have a better one. William Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair, once said of Nancy, “No one has read that remarkable tale of Oliver Twist without being interested in poor Nancy and her murderer” (Thackeray 408). Richard Ford furthermore poses the question what sort of woman Nancy might have been, had she been born into better circumstances (Ford 407). Thackeray and Ford’s words are a testament to Dickens’ success in making the character Nancy a woman with a name and a heart, instead of just another loathed prostitute, prowling the dirty streets of London. The London of Oliver Twist is not the grand city where royalty live and progress thrives as in other stories. It is dark and ominous, a breeding ground for the scum and villainy. Young Oliver, who has been in and around horrible places his entire life, ponders that “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” (Dickens 64). This is the sort of place that no respectable person would ever want to be seen in, yet these same people had no qualms in hiding those they were ashamed of in such an environment. Characters such as Fagin and Sikes would be expected to make an appearance in such a place and be quite at home in it. Dickens’ talented command of the English language allowed him to vividly portray the nastiness of London’s most disreputable areas. His descriptions of what Oliver sees evoke images of vermin rather than people: “Children…were crawling in and out at the doors or screaming from the inside…the lowest orders of Irish were wrangling with might and main…where drunken men and women were positively wallowing in the filth” (Dickens 64). The novel, like the public view, initially implies that Oliver simply wanders into a bad area of town, but Dickens masterfully notes later in the novel that “Midnight had come upon the crowded city. The palace, the night-cellar, the jail, the madhouse: the chambers of birth and death, of health and sickness: the rigid face of the corpse and the calm sleep of the child: midnight was upon them all” (305). By painting London this way, Dickens discreetly asserts that for villains such as Fagin or gentleman like Mr. Brownlow, London is still essentially one place, inaccurately perceived if the mansions and great houses are not portrayed with the slums and bars. Dickens understood that London as a whole included the less desirable areas with the more fashionable parts of town. Similarly, humanity consists of both rich and poor, kind and treacherous, but alienating undesirable company only overlooks the problem rather than solving it. Dickens’ description of the London slums forced his readers to acknowledge the conditions they had been overlooking right under their very noses. The conditions in London that bred crime and wickedness were under attack in Oliver Twist, but Dickens took his criticism far beyond the boundaries of London. In Oliver’s estimation, London was certainly the most awful place he had ever seen, but it was not the only objectionable place in which Oliver had resided. Early on, Oliver is to be transferred from the workhouse where he was born to a branch-workhouse where “twenty or thirty juvenile offenders against the poor laws rolled about the floor all day, without the inconvenience of too much food or too little clothing” (20). The mortality rates in workhouses were appalling, and Dickens revealed the atrocious neglect that orphans suffered from at the hands of churchwardens and overseers in chapter two: “At the very moment when a child had contrived to exist upon the smallest possible portion of the weakest possible food, it did perversely happen in eight and a half cases out of ten, either that it sickened from want and cold, or fell into the fire from neglect, or got half-smothered by accident…or inadvertently scalded to death when there happened to be a washing” (20). The horrors of Oliver’s early life are likely drawn from Dickens’ own memories in the workhouse. Steven Marcus writes that in Oliver Twist, “Dickens was returning to his first and most intense representations of the crisis of his young boyhood…” (Marcus 494). Dickens’ memories from the workhouse were especially sensitive to him, and his interest in the poor from that time onward was fervent and consistent (Engel 495). Young Charles was traumatized by his period in the workhouse, but an older wiser Dickens used his experience as a tool to expose the terror that children were enduring in such places. In the complex plot of Oliver Twist, a reader cannot deny the discrimination practiced against Oliver at every turn based solely on his position as an orphan. From the moment that Oliver is born and promptly labeled an orphan, the author acknowledges that the infant had good reason to cry loudly for his situation. No matter what sort of effort Oliver puts forth or what misunderstanding he finds himself in the middle of, the people that handle his future seem determined to keep the rascal in his proper position, and to teach him to be grateful for their generosity in sending him to a workhouse where he had food and shelter. Such employment would ensure that the little urchin who had the nerve to impose his existence upon the world would forever remain in his proper station, while amply convincing the board of their own liberality and discharging them of any further responsibility for the child. The attitude towards a helpless Oliver from the beginning of the novel reflects the absolute insensitivity to the plight of the poor. When Oliver is interrogated by the board, one member condescendingly asks Oliver to affirm that he has no father or mother. The admission of the fact combined with the intimidation of the entire ordeal causes Oliver to break down in tears, prompting the gentleman to ask incredulously, “What are you crying for?” (Dickens 25). Although the men that handle Oliver’s future have at least enough sense not to apprentice him to the chimney sweep Mr. Gamfield, it has taken the deaths of three or four other boys for them to arrive at the conclusion that Oliver needs another form of work. None of their plans for the boy involve any sort of decent upbringing or the slightest degree of education, further sealing his place in the lower class. The point that Dickens seems to make in the early chapters of the novel is that Oliver’s chances of surviving the frequently fatal professions that the board or the beadle intend him for are relatively low. The determination against him also certainly increases the probability that he will die young; the gentleman in the white waistcoat declares that Oliver will be hung for his severe offense of asking for more gruel. But the powers that be express no real concern as it would be one less mouth to feed on their part, and in the event of the child’s demise they can comfort themselves that they did try to help him by providing employment. It is not merely the men of the board, the crotchety old women that run the workhouses or the beadle that treat Oliver with such disdain. When Oliver is accused of stealing a handkerchief, and is chased down, one bystander declares in response to the cry to give him some air, that he does not deserve it (74). Shortly thereafter, the magistrate believes easily that Oliver is the offender, but is hesitant to allow Mr. Brownlow to doubt Oliver’s guilt. When Oliver is finally met with kindness from Mr. Brownlow, Brownlow’s friend Mr. Grimwig has a decided opinion against Oliver on no particular basis, and swiftly accuses Oliver of leaving orange peels in the streets with the express of purpose of causing someone’s death (100). With some effort, “Grimwig was strongly disposed to admit that Oliver’s appearance and manner were unusually prepossessing, but he had a strong appetite for contradiction” (101), insisting that appearances aside, Oliver could not possibly be completely blameless. He maintains that “the boy has a new suit of clothes on his back; a set of valuable books under his arm; and a five-pound note in his pocket. He’ll join his old friends the thieves; and laugh at you” (103). When circumstances prevent Oliver from returning, Grimwig immediately assumes the worst. In the entire course of the novel, Oliver never acts maliciously towards anyone, other than when excessively provoked, and never displays signs of rebellion, wickedness, or mischief. Contrarily, despite Oliver’s constant immersion in a culture of deception and lies, “jostled as he is in this miserable crowd, he is preserved from the vice of its pollution” (Forster 401). Oliver proves himself to be a good and compliant boy many times over, but the general prejudice against him as an orphan complicates his every attempt to escape his status. In the plot of Oliver Twist, Dickens accurately and sharply reveals that the barrier to the poor rising above their circumstances is the unforgiving nature of their own fellow men who esteem themselves higher than the other. Through Oliver Twist Dickens was able to communicate the difficulties that attend a life of poverty, and tactfully point out society’s flawed worldview which materially damaged any hopes of true social reform. Dickens says of his motives in Monroe Engel’s article, “I have great faith in the Poor; to the best of my ability I always endeavor to present them in a favourable light to the rich; and I shall never cease, I hope, until I die, to advocate their being made as happy and as wise as the circumstances of their condition in its utmost improvement, will admit of their becoming” (Engel 495). True to his word, Dickens continued writing novels with a sociopolitical agenda, refusing to dilute their graphic nature. Oliver Twist is widely celebrated as classic literature involving a heartwarming rags to riches story, but Oliver Twist is first and foremost a social commentary meant to inspire change. Dickens life had shown him the hardship of poverty and exactly what laws needed to be amended in order for change to occur. Using his talents as an author, Dickens took characters that were defined by their labels, and turned them into authentic people that had names, faces, and feelings. Through Oliver Twist, he forced his readers to walk through the muck of London’s slums and experience all the filth they went to great lengths to avoid, and he depicted the hard truth that society’s own bigotry prevented even pioneering individuals from helping themselves. For Oliver, it was a twist of fate and a little help from a few kind individuals that changed the course of his life. Charles Dickens knew that the interference of others was the key to affecting change, and that is the challenge he presented to his readers – and that remains sharply relevant even now. Works CitedBentham, Dickens, and the Uses of the Workhouse. Peter M. Stokes. Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Vol. 41, No. 4, The Nineteenth Century (Autumn, 2001), pp. 711-727 Joseph M. Duffy, Jr. Another Version of Pastoral: Oliver Twist ELH, Vol. 35, No. 3 (Sep.1968), pp. 403-421 Garnett, Robert R OLIVER TWIST’S NANCY: THE ANGEL IN CHAINS.. Religion & the Arts; Dec2000, Vol. 4 Issue 4, p491-516, 26pKaplan, Fred. Preface. Oliver Twist. By Charles Dickens. Ed. Fred Kaplan. Norton Critical Edition. New York: Norton, 1993. iv-vii. Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. Ed. Fred Kaplan. Norton Critical Edition. New York: Norton, 1993.Engel, Monroe. The Social and Political IssuesMarcus, Steven. Who is Fagin? Gissing, George. Oliver Twist Thackeray, William Makepeace. On Oliver TwistFord, Richard. From Quarterly Review, 1839. Forster, John. From The Examiner.