Dickens’s Oliver Twist. Essay, Research Paper
Throughout Dickens’s novel, Oliver Twist, Dickens speaks about the rising or ascension of morally good characters. Oliver Twist is born an orphan who is raised by the parish as underfed, unloved and overworked. He leaves this life and goes to London where he gets kidnapped by a group of thieves while he is staying at a nice man’s house. When Oliver was forced to do a malicious act, he was wounded and taken in by the Maylies. All the thieves become arrested or scattered away, while Oliver finds out that he is entitled to the fortune of the Maylies and that they are his real family. In Charles Dickens’s novel, Oliver Twist, the eventual rising of the good characters is made evident through the use of setting, the use of characterization, and the use of themes.
The use of setting that Dickens employs articulates the fact that Oliver has been torn between two worlds throughout the book. Oliver notices that the good lived in a different type of area than the poor, but not in all cases. One world that Oliver experienced when he was young had been what he described, “the filthy slums of London.” Oliver realized that he was in a world of crime when he was a part of Fagin, Sikes, and their gang. Things would happen there at night, in the dark alleys and in the abandoned, unlighted buildings. It was said that, “such darkness suggests that evil dominates the world.” Oliver had lived in a world of poverty for some years with the parish, Mr. Sowerberry, and Mr. Bumble; and realized that the good do not exist.
Another world that Oliver experienced was definitely a contrast to Fagin’s London. This was the good side of life, at the Maylies’ cottage or the “handsome Library” of Brownlow. Maylies’ cottage was described as having “sunlit days and fragrant flowers.” As Oliver went on through life, he realized that the morally good people had lived here in the more up-scale environment. Unlike the scrupulously wrong thieves from the slum, these people are morally correct. He realized that here, there is a great sense of goodness and health, and that you have to be good to rise in life. He also obtained the fact that his unsullied goodness would lead him at last to salvation.
The characterization in the Dickens novel also showed of the rising of good characters. Oliver was an orphan boy who has never seen the greatness of wealth in his childhood. Oliver was generally quiet and shy rather than aggressive, but when he is nine years old, he does two bold things that change his life. When he was at the workhouse, he formidably asked the server, “Can I have more sir?” for the food, which led to the life of an undertaker. While there, he got into a fight with another apprentice, Noah, who was taunting Oliver about his mother. When Oliver later goes on to London, he is saved by the very people that Fagin wants to rob. Oliver’s affectionate nature, along with his weakness and innocence, earn him the pity and love of the good people he meets. At the same time, his goodness makes him the victim of Fagin, Sikes, and Monks because they persistently scheme to turn him into thieves like themselves. Since Oliver discovers that good people are successful and evil ones are punished, he turns out to be a happy, secure, honest person. Through this, Oliver will indeed rise rather than decline like his counterparts.
The other characters also show a good representation of their type and of where they would stand. Fagin, who is described as the, “master criminal whose specialty is fencing (selling stolen property).” Sikes would also be one the more murderous and twisted characters in the book, who have done many things that are malicious. “Sikes brutally beats Nancy to death and then accidentally hangs himself in his frenzy to escape her haunting eyes,” is one of the most frightening and painful parts of the book. These two characters would be rendered as the most evil and infamous throughout the novel. Through these people it is known that morals are the key to inclination.
Such characters as Rose Maylie, who is Oliver’s aunt, took care of Oliver when he was hurt. Rose knew what it was like to be rescued from an unhappy childhood, she urgently wants to rescue Oliver, and Nancy too. She thought of this type of helping as part of the good instincts in the “Victorian Society.” Brownlow is a generous man, concerned for other people. Brownlow is quick to feel pity for Oliver, yet when he believes he is right he does not hesitate to enforce his will. For his righteousness, it was said that he, “seems to be a caricature of a virtuous man.” From people like this comes that fact that morality will rise you in life. Oliver comprehends that there is a rising of the good characters and a downfall of the bad. This would show that the good would elevate in life, as the morally incorrect would not and still live a life of inadequacy.
The use of themes throughout the book also represents the idea that the good characters will rise. One of the themes of the novel is the influence of the environment. Through the book, it is made clear that living conditions determine what happens to people. According to Dickens, “people who are deprived of good influences are doomed, while those who enjoy love and security flourish.” Dickens portrays the debasing effects of poverty, especially hunger, which turns humans into struggling animals. The influence of the environment does effect the bad and/or good things that a person would do. The good or bad things that a person would do determine where he is going to end up. The good will have a life of nice surroundings and fullness, while the bad will have the opposite.
Another theme of the novel is the alienation of characters and how this makes them act. Sometimes alienation makes people, “passive and withdrawn,” and makes them never want to be abandoned. Oliver, who has been abandoned, feels as if he has to be a good person to have people like him. As of now, Oliver is very destructive and bad since all those years of alienation. In this, it is clarified that alienation is destruction, no matter what its cause or effect.
Also, an additional theme is the power of true love, which shows that love also raises the characters. Many forms of love take place in the book between parents and child, boy and man, and other types. Dickens has said, “affection is the only source of true strength.” An example of this would be when Oliver gets to love Maylie and Brownlow and how they make a family. Others in the book do not show any love whatsoever and become very insignificant. Oliver however, has many people and becomes loved very much so he is treated better and is rising since he is acting as a good role.
In Oliver Twist, Dickens makes evident the uplifting of good character through the use of setting, use of characterization, and use of theme. Dickens shows that to become a higher person or to be risen, you have to have morality, and be in good character. Oliver definitely shows this quality and it elucidated how he will live and act in the future.