Dickens creates sympathy for Oliver and the other orphans throughout the first four chapters of the book. He does this by describing in depth the neglect, mistreatment and emotions of the children. There is a strong example of this at the end of the first chapter when Dickens writes “Oliver cried lustily. If he could have known that he was an orphan, left to the tender mercies of church-wardens and overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder.
” Oliver suffers dearly while living in the workhouse; he is quite regularly made an example of. One of the occasions he is made an example of is when he is forced to ask for more gruel by the other orphans. For doing this he is harshly beaten by cane in front of the other children and is then imprisoned. Oliver and the other orphans were beaten both mentally and physically, neglected and starved from birth, until either leaving the workhouse as slave laborers or dieing.
Oliver is terrified of Mr.Gamfield he openly shows his emotion to the whole board of the workhouse when in chapter three he falls to his knees, praying that they would order him back the room, that they would starve him, beat him, kill him. He prays for all of this rather than them send him away with Mr. Gamfield In the time of workhouses the standard of living was near to none. The unwealthy basically had no choice to but to enter a workhouse. They would work for a roof and little food. All of the people in the workhouse had to sleep on the hard floor and receive poor medical attention.
Overall the living condition were appalling, Charles Dickens uses irony to create a feeling of how bad the conditions where, a good example of this is that nearly every member of staff is overweight even them giving out the tiny amount of gruel to the orphans. Dickens attempts to create a feeling of pity for the orphans, by doing this we can see that he is trying to relive poverty, stop other people from going through what he went through. Dickens somehow manages to take a subject as important as poverty and put it across by using humor, and at the same time still manages to keep that feeling of seriousness.