Charles Dickens is considered to be the one of the most important writers of the Victorian Era. Charles Dickens described society and class in his novels and his novel Oliver Twist is a sharp social criticism. Like Dickens himself, the characters in his stories often make huge social transitions.
The mechanization of Britain, which began to emerge from the 18th century, became the greatest factor that increased social status recognition towards the mid-19th century. The size of the middle class grew enormously. Further, the government launched some reforms, such as the right to vote for an increasing number of people and the Poor Law of 1834 aiming to help poor. However, on the other side we see that after the Industrial Revolution, the poor became poorer and the rich became richer. Rich factory owners have reduced production costs and increased profits and many workers were become unemployed by entrusting their work to the machines. In the Victorian period people in low social status are disdained, ignored and underestimated.
During the Victorian Era, economic, social and political changes appeared in England. Dickens uses a lot of really sharp irony in Oliver Twist to satirize the various institutions society, capitalism, the poor laws, poverty. In Oliver Twist, first of all, Dickens presents a portrait of the childhood of a considerable number of Victorian orphans.
One of the most important appeared in the Industrial Revolution is child labor. At that time the child labours were employed at the expense of nothing by factory owners. What is more, poverty-stricken families were forced to sell their children to wealthy people who earned money by employing them on heavy conditions. One of the most prominent features of the Victoria Period is of course industrial and industrialization. Dickens tells the result of industrialization in the city. Oliver Twist is an escapist adventure novel that is a great defender of despised people.When Oliver arrives in London, he finds huge factories, smoky skies, raucous city caused by machines.
The spectrum of social class is anatomized in this novel; there are characters from the poverty sector, including members from the workhouse, Oliver, Fagin, and the pickpockets, Bill and Nancy. Characters from low to high middle class including shop keepers, policemen and judges, and Mr.Brownlowe who is an upper class gentleman. Oliver Twist is a dark portrait of poverty in England in the 1830s, with its transparent language, which is ironic, full of black humor, implying the exact opposite of what is often written.
Oliver Twist despite its ironic language, it’s one of the darkest, most intense works of Charles Dickens. It shows the corruption of the poor and the orphanages of the Victorian era and the corruption of those working there. Charles Dickens portrayed in the novel child laborers, street children, the horrible life of pickpockets. For example from the first pages, death of Oliver’s mother, in the novel Oliver is at the brink of the death and people die due to poverty and hunger, or they get killed by people who became criminals because of these poor living conditions.
The evil character of the novel, also referred as the ‘Jewish’, is a bad character with ambition of money, a representation of ambition and superficiality. Oliver, on the contrary, represents everything that is good in society. Oliver Twist depicts that evil has been destroyed by its own bad features in the conclusion of its constant battle with good, and that the virtue is eventually rewarded at the end. It can be discoverable from the novel the children were working as chimney sweepers in Victorian era due to bad conditions. These children were hanged down into chimneys to clean it. As a result, in these bad conditions, children who live in poverty, rust, and also starvation come to face with death. In addition to this, the pickpocket gang that Oliver joined can be shown as proof that children are became pickpocket in the Victorian era.
Dickens depicts all of these conditions to show the poverty and the poor living conditions of lower class in Victorian era. It is also a satire for government and government’s mistakes. Hunger and misery pushed people into robbery, and in the 19th century it became so hard to prevent theft in Britain. “Oliver Twist” can be seen as Dickens’ best criticism on this subject. Throughout the novel, Oliver’s travels, environments, and people Oliver come across with show us how the outbreak of theft is spread and how it can’t be prevented. Oliver traveled to London and pushed to be a robber by Artful Dodger and Fagin.
At the end of the novel, Dickens demonstrates in the novel that why the evil characters were in that condition or why are they stealing, supposing that the source of the deterioration in society is poverty. In conclusion, although with the Industrial Revolution England experienced its most brilliant age, aka the Victorian Era, it also led to dire consequences for the poor as they became poorer. While the novelist, Charles Dickens, who was born into this age and also experienced the era since he was also compelled to work as a child labor, reveals the unknown face of the Era.