Oliver Twist

What challenges did oliver face living in the city?

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In Oliver Twist, the city and the countryside each take on symbolic meaning, and stand in clear dichotomy. The city is corrupt, dirty, and seedy, while the country is pure, clean, and healthy. It is in the city that Oliver is forced into immorality, while it is in the country that Oliver is able to recover his health, to get an education, to find peace and happiness, and to live morally. Repeatedly Dickens describes the seediest parts of London using wholly negative language, while in scenes of the country, even the poor are presented as clean and pleasant to be around.

This dichotomy is likely related to the danger of the mob mentality that is so prevalent in the novel. In the city, where everyone is so close together, it seems to always be the immoral contingent that wins out and drowns out the few moral voices - just as in a mob the voice of reason is always overwhelmed. In the country, conversely, the people are not a mob, but a community