Symbolism In ‘Oliver Twist’ By Charles Dickens

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Charles Dickens has written a depressing and intriguing tale called Oliver Twist. The plot is sad, just as the setting is sad. Oliver Twist, the main character, is abused many times by his superiors and caretakers. This book certainly has a twist, the sadness that starts Oliver’s life is turned around, which shows that any sadness can be turned around with a happy ending.

Oliver was born in a workhouse, where his mother died, and where his sad life began. He was moved to an orphanage with a caretaker who only worked there for alcohol. He was then sold to a man who made caskets to become his apprentice. The family was so abusive that Oliver escaped to London. An old Jew named Fagin took him in and tried to train him to be a pickpocket. When Oliver realized what was being done, he escaped to a nice old man’s house, who took care of him until Fagin the Jew found him and took him back into his home. Later he was shot and lived with the Maylie’s, a kind family who helps him recover, and live the rest of his life happily.

The setting in Oliver Twist was not pleasant. Buildings were filthy and small, the orphanage was not well taken care of, and 19th century London was a mess, “A dirtier or more wretched place he had never seen. The street was very narrow and muddy, and the air was impregnated with filthy odors” (61). All this unpleasantness showed that Oliver’s life was miserable in everything, and I think that’s why Dickens chose the setting to be this way. There are very few places in Oliver’s life that are livable, and most of these places are infested with health problems or irresponsible supervisors.

Oliver is a broken boy who can get through anything. He was broken at first because he was treated so badly, and almost everything would make him cry. But, as harsh as the abuse was, he would get through it and keep going. He mostly does not talk back to superiors because they will use it against him, and since he is a young boy, he cannot argue, but it shows that he is respectful and obedient. He was framed for theft, a crime that he didn’t commit, and let the police magistrate, Mr. Fang, yell at him for stealing a rich man’s handkerchief.

The symbolism in Oliver Twist can be a little hard to find. What I saw in it, was that the Maylie family was an example of Christ, ready to serve anyone. Like Christ, the served others who needed it, and they were a very charitable family. They nursed Oliver back to health when he was shot. Rose Maylie is a beautiful and forgiving girl, showing true virtue. She shows an example of female virtues, and like Christ, forgives others.

Dickens has a strange way of showing that unpleasantness can be turned around and that one can get through anything. It is strange because he shows it in the form of an abused young boy. An example of this is how Oliver gets beaten up by Charlotte Sowerberry and Noah Claypole but stays alive, and how Oliver gets shot but stays alive, and grows to be very happy after recovering. The unpleasantness changes when Oliver gets adopted, but finally by a kindhearted man.

In conclusion, Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, was an intriguing yet depressing tale. I wouldn’t really recommend it, mostly because it’s so sad, and I must say it’s quite hard to get through because of the characters’ cruelties towards Oliver. I don’t think I’d read it again either; it was easy to get into but hard to reach the end. The lesson you learn from it is a worthy one, and it shows that you can get through anything no matter what.

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