Oliver Twist Example

As one of the most prolific themes portrayed in both novels, social class plays an important role in dictating the protagonist’s opportunities. Throughout the novels, both protagonists face great prejudice that restricts their opportunities; Oliver struggled to escape poverty and couldn’t progress into the higher social classes, instead finding himself working with Fagin and his pickpockets. In contrast, in Great Expectations, we see Pip moving through the social classes, something that was seen to be difficult to do in the Victorian era as it was hard to rise from poverty to riches.

Dickens had very strong opinions on the social class system and as he knew how difficult it was to move through the classes from his experience during his childhood, he felt bad for those who were loving and helpful people and deserved to be in the upper class but were either in the lower or working.

At the beginning of Oliver Twist’ and Great Expectations’, we learn that both protagonists experience injustice from a young age as a result of being from a poorer social class, creating sympathy from the reader.

In Oliver Twist’, the workhouse is represented as unfair, using the sibilance slow starvation, which has connotations of hunger and death, to portray to readers how Oliver and his fellow orphans were treated. The Poor Law Act of 1834 decided to make the workhouses become prison-like, which meant that Oliver and the other orphans faced appalling treatment; they were caned, kicked, threatened and tied together, shown by Mr Bumble’s actions the master aimed a blow at Oliver’s head with the ladle, pinioned him in his arms and shrieked aloud for the beadle.

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This is ironic, as the Poor Laws were designed to care for those who were poor, but also to create prison like’ workhouse conditions.

The semantic field of poverty, starvation, lying in the street and worn to pieces shows how poorly the orphans were treated as they suffered tortures of slow starvation for three months, but also emphasises how bad the living conditions were for the poverty-stricken characters. This therefore suggests that social class does dictate the protagonist’s opportunities, as they are restricted by the way he is treated, as the higher-class individuals look down on Oliver with disgust**, which means he has less of a chance of living in better conditions and therefore gains no education or work that would allow him to move through the social classes. In Great Expectations’, the protagonist Pip, who is an abused orphan, was regularly beaten by his older sister, portrayed through the use of emotive language getting heavily bumped from behind in the nape of the neck…small of the back…face ignominiously shoved against the wall. This violent description shows ***. This implies that social class does help to dictate the protagonist’s opportunities, because the treatment of the lower and working-class individuals meant that the protagonists were exploited which limited their chance of living in better conditions, due to receiving unfair treatment throughout their lives.

On the other hand, the novels are very different in the way they are narrated. Great Expectations was written in the first person, so from this, we gain an insight into what life was like in those times, especially for those who were of a lower or working class from the perspective of a character living in such conditions. Oliver Twist however, has been written in the third person, so therefore, we view Oliver’s journey as an onlooker’, so we are able to create our own opinions and perceptions of the other characters and social classes, however, we do not get a personal’ view of what life was like for him.

After Oliver’s most famous line, Please sir, I want some more, Mr Bumble attempts to give Oliver away as an apprentice on the street, telling Oliver that he should like it very much indeed Mr Bumble threw in a gentle hint that if he failed there was no telling what would be done to him, foreshadowing that he will not get treated any better in his apprentice, already being shut up in a little room by himself when arriving at the magistrate office. Here, we also learn that Oliver trembled violently, so we immediately get the idea that Oliver isn’t treated any better during his apprenticeship, so as a result, his social class is dictated by his opportunities, as his chance of becoming an apprentice without being treated in poorly ways is very low, and therefore he is unlikely to gain better life opportunities for example finding a family who will love and care for him.

Pip on the other hand unexpectedly comes into contact with an escaped convict who encourages him to steal food and a metal file, which Pip agrees to, however this also limits his chance of progressing from the lower class as he turns to crime. Magwitch, the convict, who is described as A fearful man…in coarse grey…with no hat, and with broken shoes which has connotations of poor, lower class and dirty, uses the colloquialism You young dog…what fat cheeks you ha’ got whilst licking his lips, implies that Magwitch is rude, disrespectful and he shouldn’t be trusted. Magwitch threatens Pip, telling him he will have his heart and liver tore out, roasted and ate if he fails to steal the food, leaving Pip dreadfully frightened. This has connotations of death and fear, which is what we feel for Pip as he could potentially be harmed by Magwitch, as here, he is not in safe hands. Marxists argue that individuals cannot rise from the status we were born into ***

Oliver is taken in by undertaker Mr Sowerberry, who requests that Oliver should sleep by the coffins. Sowerberry’s older apprentice Noah, and his sister Charlotte mistreat Oliver. Dickens uses the sibilance sat shivering, followed by the alliteration coldest corner, implying that Oliver, a poor, underclass child, is kept in cold and unpleasant areas, while Noah and Charlotte make fun of him, stating that Neither his father nor his mother will ever interfere with him. All his relations let him have his own way pretty well, which is dramatic irony, as it is later revealed that Oliver is the son of a higher-class gentleman. Oliver eventually joins Fagin, who leads him into crime, becoming a pickpocket, which again restricts his chances of better opportunities such as being found and escaping poverty, as he turns to crime, where society see him as a devil’.

Marxists argue that we cannot rise from the status in which we are born, suggesting that Oliver and Pip will not be able to eventually join the higher classes and therefore the higher-class individuals will not offer them better life opportunities, some making it worse for the protagonist, for example antagonist Fagin, who Oliver becomes a pickpocket for. Great Expectations is set at the time of the industrial revolution, a period of technological improvement, and created opportunities for those born into the lower classes, in order to help them gain money and become members of the higher classes. Throughout the novel, we hear from the lower-class characters; Joe and Magwitch but we also Miss Havisham, who is higher class and very wealthy. Set in the Victorian era, Oliver Twist explores the issues and changes that had occurred during the industrial revolution; children from poorer class backgrounds were forced to work, however if there were no available jobs, then some children ended up on the streets and becoming prostitutes. Even though Fagin is from a lower social class, he teaches Oliver how to become a pickpocket through stealing belongings from other classes, and th, and therefore Oliver turns to crime without realising until

Fagin, who is a recurring symbol for the devil, teaches Oliver how to steal Is it (handkerchief) gone. here it is sir, praising Oliver and telling him he will be the greatest man of the time, which is dramatic irony as we are aware that Oliver is being taught how to steal, however Oliver is unaware of this however unaware that he is actually learning how to commit a crime.

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Oliver Twist Example. (2019, Dec 03). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/oliver-twist-best-essay/

Oliver Twist Example
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