ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How Charles Dicken’s Life Experience Influenced his work "Oliver Twist"

Updated on July 3, 2017

Introduction

Oliver Twist is Charles Dicken’s second literary work first published in 1839. The novel centers mainly on attacking England’s Poor Law that had been enacted in 1834. This law which had been enacted by the government was actually a series of measures which the government had been initiating from 1834. The aim of such measures was to offer assistance to poor people. Poor people who did not have a means of income were sent to workhouses where they were given some jobs in return for food and other form of support. However, the system was designed in such a way that those who were sent there could find it unpleasant and uncomfortable and that this would incentivize people on the need to become self sufficient. For instance, the foods offered in the workhouses were often very little and people were not required to talk with each other while taking the meals. What is more, families were separated and forced to live in same-sex quarters while children as young as ten were sent t “baby farms” (Dickens 11). It is upon these flaws that Charles Dickens penned down this novel as an attempt to criticize and make the government change the system.

Dicken’s Life

Charles Dicken’s childhood was full of miseries. At twelve years, Dicken’s father, John Dickens was imprisoned for failing to pay a debt. This subjected the family to a devastating state and forced Dickens junior to work in a factory that manufactures shoe polish. At the factory, Charles Dickens met, Bob Fagin, a fellow employee whom they became close friends. This friendship became intact since unlike other employees, Bob did not have a tendency of teasing Dickens junior, and rather, he came to his defense whenever he was being taunted by other boys. Further, he also taught him a lot concerning work and the skills needed to do certain tasks. Bob also stood in the gap for Dickens whenever he was sick and could not therefore report to work (Cody 1).

Interestingly, Charles Dickens does not shower Bob Fagin with praises or acknowledgement to what appears to be great kindness during this time. Instead, he goes on to nickname him, Oliver Twist, an imaginary villain. His argument for this action was that he does not at any point see anything good all the time he worked in the factory and that this time was the worst in his life. Therefore, Bob’s “assistance” during this time did not do anything good to him or in other words did not count. In fact he considers Bob Fagin as a person who showed him the “darker side of life”.

Dicken’s Life Experience

As earlier depicted, Dickens early life was full of miseries and hardships. In particular, his early life was though, idyllic and he acknowledges in “Oliver Twist” that “at a tender age, my parents and the society did not take good care of me as a boy”. In fact, he retorts the idea that his mother, Elizabeth Dickens strongly supported his enrolment in the Blacking factory. This made Charles to have a negative view of his mother and all mothers in general with assertion that a family should be ruled by the father and not mothers and that, mothers should only be relegated to the kitchen duties. Furthermore, the failure of his mother in requesting for his return hugely contributed to his negative attitude towards women.

“I can never forget the idea that my mother welcomed the idea for me to be sent to the Backing wharehouse against my wishes, I can never forget” he retorts”(54)

Upon imprisonment of his father in Marshalsea prison, the young Dickens and his mother joined him there (at the prison) since this was the practice at that time. However, Charles was forced to move out of that prison due to harsh conditions and board with one of their family friends identified as Elizabeth Roylance. Though Roylance had accepted to board with Charles, the old lady was too poor to afford the needs and even education of the boy. He went on to live with various other family friends including Dombey and Son, whom he describes as living in a despicable house, Archibld Russel who had a lame son and a very old wife. This illustrates that Charles childhood was never a settled one and that most of the conditions he lived in were deplorable.

This kind of life and considering that nobody was in a position to help Dickens proceed with college education forced him to abandon school and work part time at Warren's Shoe Warehouse where he was paid a weekly six shillings for sticking labels on the pots of boot blacking. The work environment was described as not only harsh but also strenuous and Dickens did not like it at all. This work which also caused a permanent impact on Dickens life was a huge influence to Dickens writings including essays, novels, fiction and was the basis of his strong desire to reform the labor and socio-economic conditions of his time. According to him, these rigors and old laws were meant to oppress the poor even more and should be discarded at all costs (Moore 241-244).

Eventually, Dickens got a chance to attend Wellington House Academy located at Camden Town where he schooled for two years. However, he did not like this institution owing to its haphazard nature, poor discipline, and poor ways of teaching, brutality of the school administrators, poor governance, lack of sufficient resources and lack of concern by teachers. He generally had a negative view of this school because of the way learners were treated.

Presentation of Dickens Life Experience in Oliver Twist

The novel “Oliver Twist” is largely penned from Charles Dickens’s life experiences including the conditions of working class people at his time, the righteous indignation derived from his situation including mistreatment of children by parents, relatives and lack of concern by the society or authorities. His placement at the Blacking factory caused unhappy moment in Dicken’s youth and which is alluded in his second novel Oliver Twist (Bidwell 2).

Alongside the experience of mistreatment is the misery of poverty alongside its effects in the society. In this novel, Dickens further reinforces the idea that the prevalence of poverty and its effects including homelessness had been made worse by a misguided approach by the responsible stakeholders towards resolving this issues(John 72). In other words, the government’s approaches in these matters were encouraging their proliferation and even increase.

Dickens places much concern in showing the misery of the lower class in his society. In this regard, he uses words such as despair, workhouses, and filthy quarters. Using his socio-economic context and experiences, the author has depicted the conditions of the poor with a resolute realism (Hard 65). He consistently describes those in the poor category as animal like or sub-human for the purpose of highlighting the huge gap inherent between the poor and the middle class. When describing the Babytons, the author makes the poor appear like lesser humans “ Oliver was not at ease looking at either the man or her since they seemed to be rats he had seen earlier” (5.64)

Child abuse is also a recurrent theme that appears in this novel Oliver Twist. For instance, it can not be right for a boy as young as twelve to be enlisted as a worker in a Blacking factory while going on to subject him to harsh and un-conducive work environment. Further, subjecting Charles Dickens to live in the same prison environment because of the mistakes of the father was unacceptable under child welfare rights. The author has also described the treatment of children by parents and society at large as well as by natural. This description makes it apparent that children or at least those presented in the novel were subjected to risk factors that hindered their progression and welfare alongside the high nature of child abuse (Brennan 1). According to Meadow (1997) child abuse is an unacceptable treatment accorded to a child in a particular context under specific time. In today’s standards and other parts of the world, majority of the practices depicted in Dickens’s novel could be considered as an outright breach of child rights.

Conclusion

From this analysis, it is apparent that the novel “Oliver Twist” is largely based on the life experiences of the author Charles Dickens. The novel provides enlightenment on the actual life that were inherent in England during the 9th century. From this book, we get to understand the huge gap between the poor and the rich, child abuse among other factors. Therefore, one can see a great transformation between the culture and society at time with today’s. This is also an indication that humanity is progressing.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)