Oliver Twist is one of Charles Dickens 's best known stories.
Characters such as the evil Fagin, with his band of thieves and villains, the Artful Dodger with " all the airs and manners of a an, " the house-breaker Sikes and his dog, the conscience-stricken but flawed Nancy, the frail but determined Oliver, and the arrogant and hypocritical beadle Mr Bumble have taken on a life of their own and passed into our culture.
Oliver Twist was appearing in 10 theatres in London before serialisation of the trilog was even completed, so how does the original novel hold up for a modern reader?
It stars Alec Guinness as Fagin, Robert Newton as Bill Sikes and a young John Howard Davies as Oliver Twist.
It 's important to look not only at the writing style and construction, but at the social conditions of he time and Dickens 's own personal situation.
Oliver Twist; or the Parish Boy 's Progress was written when he was only 25, and first published serially in " Bentley 's Miscellany " where Dickens was editor, from February 1837 to April 1839.
But while " The Pickwick Papers " was still only halfway through being serialised, his readers clamoured for a second novel.There must have been a lot of pressure on the young uthor to maintain such a high standard.
grief he felt caused him to miss the deadlines for both " The Pickwick Papers " and Oliver Twist- the only deadlines he ever missed in his entire writing career.
Similarl it was not Browne who illustrated Oliver Twist, although he had stepped into the breach before ( see my review of " The Pickwick Papers ") and also went on to illustrate most of Dickens 's further novels.
In November Dickens revised the monthly parts of Oliver Twist for the 3-volume book version, the first instance where he was published under " Charles Dickens " instead of " Boz ".
If we think that thi boo 's structure may not be as we would wish, it is as well to bear in mind the constraints both of the time and of Dickens 's own incredibly complicated personal circumstances! Oliver Twist is very much novel an angry young man would write, seething with fury at the social injustices he observed.
he only help from the parish available to them now was to become inmates in the workhouse, which operated on the notio that poverty was the result of laziness; the dreadful conditions in the workhouse were intended to nspire the poor to better their own circumstances.Dickens himself in these chapters constantly makes negative remarks about " philosophers " in th instanc.
According to Jeremy Bentham, man 's actions were governed by the will to avoid pain and strive for pleasure, so the government 's task was to increase the benefits of society by punishing and rewarding people according to their actions.But as Dickens tells us with bitter sarcasm in chapter 2, the workhouse was little more than a prison for the poor.
For xample, in describing the men of the parish board, Dickens writes that, " they were very sage, deep, philosophical men " who discover about the workhouse that " the poor people liked it!
It as a regular place of public entertainment for the poorer classes; a tavern where there was nobody to pay ... " " The other recent legislation which is alway in Dickens 's mind in writing th ovel, is the Anatomy Act of 1832.
Dickens is clearly thinking of this recent Act in the last fiftee pages, when Oliver 's mother 's body disappears.
This reason that the poor young oman who dies in its opening pages was being dissected while her fathe was being starved has a grotesque significance.There is quite a marked difference in style when the character of Oliver moves away from the workhouse.
he hange in style probably coincides with the conclusion of " The Pickwick Papers " .Surprisingly many of the grotesque characters were based on people in real life, who performed similar unbelievably atrocious acts.
In th letter dated June 3, 1837, Dickens wrote to his friend Thomas Haines, " In my next number of Oliver Twist, I would b a magistrate ... whose harshness and insolence would render him a fit subject to be " shewn up " ... I have ... stumbled upon Mr. Laing of Hatton Garden celebrity. " Laing was a police magistrate, but was dismissed by the Home Secretary for abuse of his power.
Dickens is often riticised for his combinatio of coincidence, and he uses deus ex machina here to ring thi stor of Oliver Twist to a happy ending.
s ofte as the criticism of " coincidences " that is often levelled at Dickens, one of main criticisms of Oliver Twist has always ha the apparent antisemitism shown in the uthor 's portrayal of Fagin as a " dirty Jew ".
When editing Oliver Twist for the " Charles Dickens edition " of his works in 1846, he substantially revised the work for this single volume, eliminating most references to Fagin as " the Jew ".
And in his last completed novel, " Our Mutual Friend ", ( 1864) Dickens created Riah, a positive Jewish character.
he curmudgeonly " Mr Grimwig " has only a superficial grimness, which might be removed as easily as a wig.But the main character 's name of " Oliver Twist " is the most obvious example.
Oliver Twist himself is n't a fully rounded character.