Society and Class in Charles Dickens’s “Oliver Twist”
Charles Dickens, one of the most important writers of the Victorian Era, described society and class in his novels. Like Dickens himself, the characters in his stories often make huge social transitions. During the Victorian Era, great 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.
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 got drawn 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.