The way Dickens presents the children as being so weak and vulnerable is yet another of the key ways in which Dickens convinces us that the way they are treated is unfair and wrong. An example of this is when they are described in the shop as ‘children with the countenances of old men, deformities with irons upon their limbs… ‘ this shows that these children have all been ruined beyond repair by the all the awful treatment they have received.
This makes the reader feel ever more sympathetic towards the children and all the while more disconcerted as to how children may be treated in the real world. The last but certainly not least character I am going to explore that is used by Dickens to attain sympathy is Smike.
This character was originally one of the students at Dotheboys Hall but the payments then stopped coming and so Squeers kept him as a slave. When we see Smike for the second time is when we get a real impression about how sad his life has been.
When Nicolas looks at him what he sees is a look that was ‘… a very painful one… for it told a long and very sad history. ‘ This shows that there is no limit as to how low a child’s welfare can drop in all things positive as Smike has dropped from being a over punished pupil, to a cruelly treated slave. The readers reaction to this is clearly one of compassion for the character, and then for children in similar situations in real life.
To conclude, this book quite possibly has an important historical context as to how the lives of children have changed in Britain since that time. There is a good chance it may have changed the opinions of many of its readers and informed those who were unaware and opened the eyes of the people who were turning a blind one. The fact that it could have had such affect on the matter of the treatment of children makes it clear to me that Dickens wrote this book far more as a message to the people, than just as a source of monetary gain.