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I am going to discuss how Charles Dickens uses sensation fiction and how it could be linked to the stage
Many Sensation novels were written in the 19th century. Cruelty to children was an issue at the time.
Abandoned children starving and sleeping rough. Children as young as five were often sent to work. Working in Dangerous environments for example chimney sweeping. The young children inhaled the soot from the chimneys leading to suffocation and a most certain death. Sensation fiction was written to exaggerate the horrors that had overcome London at the time.
Charles Dickens wrote sensation fiction simply because he was disgusted at how people thought it was okay to do reckless things. Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England in 1812 on February 7th. He moved to London at the age of two with his family. His father was a navy clerk but was sent to debtors’ prison. During that that time, Charles worked in a London factory placing labels on shoe polish bottles.
He took a great interest in reading adventure, fairytales and novels and published his first book in 1836 his books included warmth and humour and a great understanding of humanity.
Charles was also a social commentator who wanted to make the middle-classes aware of the appalling conditions faced by the poor, a melodramatic novel of social protest, and how he used his writing to improve conditions Oliver Twist is a great example of sensation fiction. The story reflects on Victorian London. Oliver Twist opens with a bitter invective.
It is an extreme criticism of Victorian society’s treatment of the poor. The workhouses that figure prominently in the first few chapters of the novel were institutions that the Victorian middle class established to raise poor children.
The audience will be sympathetic towards the young boy, Oliver, therefore think about the cruel and abusive lifestyle they live in. Between nine and twelve year old boys, thin and pale, drawing straws at the table. Desperately wanting some more food. Oliver takes the shortest straw and is forced to ask for more. The sensational context of this chapter is essential. The children are eager to get their small portion of gruel although they know they would still be starving afterward. Unfortunate boys staring into their empty bowls desperate for more.
”They could have devoured the very bricks of which it was composed” This suggests that they are nearing insanity because of starvation. There is an element of pity and sympathy for the orphans. It is made clear to the audience with the exaggeration. An actor would play Oliver very innocent, sinless, feeble young boy. The Artful Dodger is described as looking quite young for his aged but dressed in older persons garments, they are too big for him, which makes him stand out from the crowd. He catches Oliver’s eye. He comes across smug looking.
He comes across as a ‘in your face’ type of person. ”He was a snub-nosed, flat-browed, common-faced boy enough” your typical cockney pick-pocketer. This is sensational to show the audience the poor lifestyle that many young boys had been living and don’t know any better than to be a thief. An actor playing this role is challenging; playing a boy who is young but has the characteristics of a man. Bill sikes’ violent nature makes him appear very fierce and intimidating. His anger is horrifying and distressing, the anger could be brought to stage using facial expressions and spatial awareness.
The reader knows why he has come to Nancy’s chamber ‘There’s light enough for what I’ve got to do” a extract of domestic violence is exaggerated to show how awful and terrifying it must be for women at the time. Rather than improving what the middle class saw as the questionable morals of the able-bodied poor, the Poor Laws punished the most defenceless and helpless members of the lower class. The old, the sick, and the very young suffered more than the able-bodied benefited from these laws. Dickens meant to demonstrate this incongruity through the figure of Oliver Twist therefore Dickens use of sensation fiction had been a success.
The relationship between sensation fiction and the stage is that it makes an audience have mixed emotions both happiness as well as sadness but also the exaggeration can be followed up by using a style of brecht in your performance. Reading this story at the time you would be shocked and disappointed at the society you live in. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Oliver Twist section.
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