Image of Penurious London Netherworld In ‘Oliver Twist’
One of the remarkable books by Charles Dickens was his first novel, Oliver Twist that tried to paint the picture of his beliefs on how poverty may cause one to perform atrocious acts. He captures the image of penurious London netherworld. The novel focuses on the main protagonist, Oliver Twist, who had been orphaned since early childhood life. A large portion of his childhood life revolves around an orphanage that had plenty of children with inadequate food to satisfy every kid.
The novel was acquired fame by being very raw in addressing crime and murder. Despite critics regarding such kind of literature as immoral, surprising enough, the public always embraces such pieces of writing. The novel’s popularity increased since it was a series publication and created anticipation among its readers for the subsequent installment. The story has been featured in movies twice, in 1948 and 2005 under different directors. Among the characters we have Oliver our protagonist and whose identity is the central mystery in the book. Another aspect is Fagin who is a real criminal mentor that takes advantage of homeless children and trains them pickpocketing under his wing. He cannot be involved in the evil acts and uses the kids instead. We also meet Nancy, who was once a pickpocket for Fagin but moved to prostitution while still young. Other characters include Rose Maylie, Mr. Brownlow, Monks, Bill Sikes, Mr. Bumble, Agnes Fleming, Mr. Leeford, Mr. Losberne, Harry Maylie, and Charlotte among many others. The book addresses themes such as charity failures by both the church and government, idiocy of egoism, state of being flawless in crime city and idealizing of the countryside.
The narrator uses a third-person perspective and adopts the point of view of the many characters. It can be easily said that the tone of the narrator is not objective but instead sympathetic to Oliver Twist. The voice of the narrative takes a different turn when addressing ethically objectionable characters; it employs ironic sarcasm. Despite Oliver being an innocent soul, he is surrounded by a dark world of crime and social immorality. The major conflict is seen as he fights to gain his identity and escalate above the horrible settings of the low in society. The novel has both its interesting parts and dull moments to be portrayed in real life. Charles was creative in his plot development, but to some extent, he went overboard in his twist and turned that almost ruined the mystery of Oliver’s identity. Something mesmerizing which was depicted in the novel and it is an accurate representation of real life is the disguise some of the characters put on. In the book, we see styles such as Monks and Nancy concealing or faking a relationship with Oliver for their selfish gains. The same is also true in reality, and it sometimes gets much worse when a particular individual or group of people are after your blood so it can serve to their benefits. It is a confusing world where it is difficult to distinguish between the real face of a person from his/her façade impression. It is when the hidden identities of Rose, Oliver, and Monks are unveiled that the story comes to an end. It is a creative way in building the suspense of the tale utilized by Charles Dickens.
The name ‘Twist’ is very suggesting to experienced literature readers, and the author did not disappoint in bringing the symbolism in the title. Though it may seem a cliché, it is creativity earning the book the reference opus magnum. It is not a coincidence that Oliver Twist came out after the Poor Law of 1834 was adopted (Karin, pp.90). The act made it impossible for the poor that were still at an active stage of life to get payments from the government. The only way they could get the payments was through entering workhouses. A lot of people believe Dickens was very instrumental in using Oliver Twist as a discourse on poverty as the primary social injustice of the nineteenth century London. We cannot say that the author was the first to sound very vocal in addressing social inequities via creativity, but we can give him credit for making an effort which got recognition. Critics would argue that Dickens would have ended the book in a certain way that would make it a real banger. People have gone ahead to propose alternate ending to the book. I happen to share a contrary opinion, as I could not be able to think of any better way of bringing the book to completion. The only discredit I can attach to the novel was in the hidden family ties.
Whether it was a touch of creativity in cementing the idea of ‘Twist’ when revealing the actual family links, the author seemed to have overdone it to an extent it seemed impossible in real life. It is a complex family tree in which Oliver find himself being part of. Just like other stories, Oliver Twist has a happy ending. It is a cliché common to almost all novels, but we all love happy endings. However, reality tells a different story, where a happy ending is not guaranteed. It is not a point of view but the fact of the matter. Holding other factors constant, Oliver Twist with its twist and turns is a book that is still being read up to date and still leaves readers captivated.
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