Oliver Twist Charles Dickens, probably one of the most popular writer and humorist of his century was born at Landport in Portsea, on February seventh, 1812. His father, John Dickens was a clerk in a navy-pay office, and mother Elizabeth Borrow, along with his eight other siblings, which the other two died in infancy, lived in Portsea, and were fairly poor. Because of the arising poverty in his life time, Charles Dickens was forced to work as a child laborer when he was just twelve year of age. Although Charles Dickens faced many challenges in his young life, his love for writing dominated all of the challenges he faced in life. Perhaps, his book, Oliver Twist, was about, well, mainly about his life as a child. Although Dickens wrote Oliver Twist while he was finishing The Pickwick Papers and editing Bentley’s Miscellany, he managed to make the novel remarkable for it’s clarity of purpose and it’s sustained intensity(The Cambridge guide to Literature in English; Ian Ousby).
The story that lies behind the infamous story of a little orphan boy named Oliver is very different from his other previous novels. Other critics say that Oliver Twist is barely a novel, but more as a satire or sarcasm about the victorian era. First of all, the story begins with a young woman who gave birth to a boy whom they named Oliver. The young woman did not even have any time to hold her new born, but just in time to kiss him, then shortly died after that, the boy on the other hand survived, not knowing what kind of twist and turn his life would take as he grows and faces the real world. As the boy grew in a very vain and cruel environment, his turns in life was not going too good either. Having the parish not enough facilities for his care, Oliver was forced to move and work as a child laborer and in the care of a very greedy woman named Mrs.
Mann. Child labor was very common back then, and there was an actual law that was set to eliminate poverty by starving the poor, that was called the Poor Law of 1834.(The Life of Charles Dickens;John Forester) Dickens used this law in his story to satarize the living in London, in the 19th century, and probably because he experienced child labor when he was growing up, and therefore tried to emphazise the way he lived back then. As soon as Oliver turned nine years old, Mr. Bumble, the beadle of the parish which where Oliver was born, took Oliver with him to work as an oakum picker. But because of the increasing of poverty, Oliver and the other workers were only fed little pieces of food.
In the midst of starvation, one of Oliver’s friend pursued Oliver to ask for some more food, and by that, Oliver was taken to a dark room for a week for his “disrespectfulness.” Perhaps, Dickens was trying to tell the readers how the life of a poor boy be so unimportant to those who dominates him, and thus the other children living in povety also. This challenge of Oliver’s life is just preparing him for the other eventful changes in his immediate future. Soon after, a reward was posted on a board for anyone who would like to take an orphan boy to their care, and will be offered five-pounds. Mr. Gamfield was willing to accept the boy for a bribe of five-pounds, but because of his bad publicity, meaning he had already lost the lives of several of his apprentices, he was told to be paid three- pounds and ten-shillings, instead of the five-pounds that was promised. Mr. Gamfield agreed to the proposition, and so did the board.
Later, brought before a local judge for approval that Oliver was to be cared by Mr. Gamfield, the near sighted judge, searching for his ink bottel, caused him to look at the frightened face of Oliver, and then quickly realized that he would do something wrong if he let Oliver go with Mr. Gamfield, dropped and refused to sign the papers of approval, and told Oliver to return to the workhouse where the offering of five-pounds to anyone that would take him away was posted again. After several request in attempt to place Oliver had failed, Mr. Bumble accidentally discovered Mr. Sowerberry, an undertaker, and a person who is willing to take Oliver as an apprentice.
To Mr. Bumble’s luck, Mr. Sowerberry was more than willingful to take Oliver with him and get paid five-pounds as a bonus too. Consenquently, arrangement with the board were quickly made, and poor little Oliver was made ready for the transfer. This example of sudden movement and quickness of the changes in Oliver’s young life, was only the beginning of some more serious changes that he has yet to face. Being forced to move to Mr. Sowerberry’s house, Oliver spent uncomfortable nights sleeping in a stranger’s house.
Adding the mistreatment that Oliver received from Mr. Sowerberry’s wife, and two other children in the house, Noah and Charlotte, Oliver grew sadder and lonelier that ever. It was about a month later that Mr. Sowerberry decided to take the boy to work with him as a “mute”at funerals. Having to notice death as a popular word that was used throughout this novel, it is also a very symbolic device, a symbol of the good and the evil of this novel. Also, Dickens tried to illustrate the bad state of being poor, for example, having Oliver to act “mute” or a professional mourner, is a very degrading job even for a young boy like Oliver.
Coming back to the story, Oliver now was suffering physical and emotional abuse, attempted to run away, and indeed that’s what he just did. He took the path to London, where he thought would be a good place to hide out. Throughout his journey, Oliver begged for crust bread, and slept in a haystack in the cold nights, and beginning his journey again. Until oneday, a boy about his age talked and told him about the guy who will offer him free lodging . Oliver had nothing else ahead of him, quickly agreed to follow the boy who likes to call himself the Artful Dodger, to meet the man that he was talking about. Oliver followed the boy in a dark alley that heads towards the slums of London. Finally, they had arrived at the place where Oliver could get a free lodging.
Oliver was later acquianted to a villainous looking, old shriveled Jew, called Fagin. Oliver’s innocence made him notice all the unusual things that were in this house, like the many handkerchief that hung throughout the house, and the children like him that were playing a game that contains picking someone else’s pocket. Oliver’s innocence was also his greates enemy. Having no experience in the world he is unable to realize that he has fallen in with thieves. For many days, Oliver was now away of his surroundings, and was also aware oh his friend’s true characters.
Later on, Oliver was with the care of Charley and Dodger, and by his surprise and horror, Oliver saw Dodger pulled some old man’s handkerchief. Frightened and confuse, Oliver started to run as soon as he heard the gentelman yell. Oliver, weak and tired, was cornered and as knocked down by a big fat man, but because the crowd was still hystercal, Oliver was able to to saved by an officer and a man. Being dragged in jail, Oliver was frightened. Luckily, the man Mr.
Brownlow did not press any charges against him. Kind hearted Mr. Brownlow, noticed some familiarity from the face of Oliver, and couldn’t leave him, so he took Oliver with him to his house. Just imagining how confuse this boy would be as soon as he finds out that Mr. Brownlow was his long lost grandparent, would be very overwhelming tous readers.
Dickens creation of fantasy, made this book more interesting. Making the story short, Oliver finally discovered that he is not an orphan boy after all, but a rich boy with family of his own. The fantasy that Dickens created in this novel was truly remarkable, and unusual. Maybe that is why his novel was critiziced too much by the critics. His story in general, affected those who lived and experienced the poverty in London, and the ones that actually betrayed the law in able to survive life in the streets.
His strong use of satire and allegory throughout this novel greatly gave the novel an outstanding popularity, and Dickens’ imagination wonderfully transformed the material oh his experience, and revealed his love of the huma race.