Oliver Twist was written in 1837 by Charles Dickens. It was published in monthly parts in a magazine called Bentley’s Miscellany. Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist because of his own personal experience of being poor as a child. He wanted to open the middle class eyes to the poverty and unfairness of society. He was outraged by the new poor law that passed in 1834 decreasing the rations given to the poor in the workhouses. They decreased so much that many of the workers died of starvation.
The law was passed because many believed that people enjoyed the workhouse as it was an easy life. Living Conditions for the poor were appalling. Many large families often had to crowd in one room. Some often died of starvation or got killed at work by dangerous machinery. In the extract “Oliver’s first sight of London” Dickens uses very descriptive words right from the first sentence like dirtier, wretched, filthy odours to make London sound like a nasty place. He did this to try and show the poor living conditions especially for the poor.
The quote “the only stock in trade appeared to be heaps of children” shows that child labour was common especially among the poor families. The quote “drunken men and women were positively wallowing in filth” suggests that the poor drowned their sorrows with alcohol. In the extract of Smithfield market, Dickens sums up the appalling conditions of filth and a pungent stench that mingled in the air. Dickens uses words like crowding, pushing, driving, beating, whooping, hideous and squalid to show that all of the human senses at the market are ravaged to the extreme.
The quote “Countrymen, butchers, drovers, hawkers, boys, thieves, idlers and vagabonds of every low grade, were mingled together in a mass” suggests that Smithfield market is a place were the low life scum of London meet. In the extract of Fagin’s Den descriptive sentences are used right from the beginning. The description of Fagin himself implies that he is an old poor crooked man. The description of the building makes Fagin look older than he actually his, with the words black, age and dirt.
Its describes him as a shrivelled Jew with a repulsive face which was obscured by a quantity of matted red hair, this make you believe he is a poor man with no sense of well-being. He was dressed in greasy flannel gown with his throat bare. The description of Fagin is shown through things you see not things he does as a person. Dickens is making you see how much of an impact Fagin’s lifestyle has on the way people in the play act towards him. In the extract of the London Bridge at night, the description is portrayed right from the very start.
The church clocks chime three quarters past eleven, as two figures emerged on London Bridge. It gives you the spooky, gloomy image of the dead of night and people meeting for a strange thing. It describes to alike people very differently. One a woman who looked eagerly about her as though in quest of some expected object, and the other was that of a man, who slunk along in the deepest shadow he could find, and, at some distance, accommodated his pace to hers, stopping when she stopped. Just from two lines of the play, the amount of thought that dickens has put in is extortionate.
The way he describes the way they look and the way they move contrasted with what they were going to the bridge for, is what made he play such a big success. It then goes on to describe the actual area not just the bridge. It comments on the darkness of the night, the way the day had been unfavourable and that there was a few people staring to find out gossip then quickly walking by. The 2 characters stood there in complete silence not talking to each other neither anyone who walked past them.
The way dickens can change the description of the way the people entered the scene to the way they acted during the scene is like no other. This is Dickens special talent that is lucky for an author to have – also to do it at his standard must have been a delight for him to write the extent of description he wrote. “A mist hung over the river, deepening the red glare of the fires that burnt upon the small craft moored off the different wharfs, and rendering darker and more indistinct the mirky buildings on the banks.
” The section I have enclosed in speech marks is a part I have chosen due to the amount of changing adjectives during 3 lines. He goes from misty river, to the red glare of fires then back to darker mirky buildings. The contrast between three different ways of describing makes the scene stand out above the rest. In the extract Bethnal Green Road it opens with description of the day changing. It explains the way many of the lamps were already extinguished and a few country wagons were slowly toiling on, towards London.
This gives the image of morning London life in the 18th century. It describes the kind of scene in morning London life. The quote “As they approached the city, the noise and traffic gradually increased: when they threaded the streets between Shoreditch and Smithfield, it had swelled into a roar of sound and bustle” suggests that Bethnal Green Road is a rather quiet and peaceful road compared to the main part of London that they are approaching.
In conclusion I think that dickens is a very descriptive writer, his use of words and vocabulary really get the image across to the reader. This works well in Oliver Twist as Dickens is a social reformer who is trying to inform the middle and upper classes of the appauling conditions the poor had to live in. The use of powerful words also emphasises Dickens point as a social reformer.