Oliver Twist: Fact through Fiction
Oliver Twist is a criticism of the society in which Charles Dickens lived. The book directly criticized the Poor Laws and attempted to inspire readers of the middle and upper classes to improve the intolerable conditions in which Dickens himself had been raised. Through the novel’s unforgettable characters, Dickens humanized a marginalized social class, shedding light on the grim nature of their lives. In the descriptions of the workhouses and slums of London, Dickens forced his readers to acknowledge the sordid living conditions of the poor. Finally, Dickens uses the plot of Oliver Twist to reveal the flaws of a system that kept the poor trapped in a seemingly permanent state of squalor.
Charles Dickens learned about the dark and difficult lives of the poor through his own childhood experience. This experiential knowledge put him in the perfect position to become an advocate for the poor years later via Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and other well known novels. According to the article “Bentham, Dickens, and the Uses of the Workhouse,” The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 attempted to make poverty relief entirely dependent on dwelling in the workhouse, therefore distinguishing between the worthier poor who were willing to work...
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