Charles Dickens, the son of John and Elizabeth, was born on the 7th February 1812 in Portsmouth. Dickens had a relatively good upbringing. He began his education at William Giles School. Although this was shortly outlived, as at the age of 12 his father got arrested for bad debt. He was then sent to work at Warren’s Blacking factory, where he applied labels to bottles of shoe polish. After this he returned to school but left again at 15. Dickens’s first job was as a solicitor’s clerk. He then became a reporter for the House of Parliaments.
Twenty-five years later, he published his first novel, an immediate success that launched his career. “Oliver Twist” was written in 1837. Its aim was to make the conditions of poor people more apparent. It was also written as a protest against The Poor Law. The Poor Law stated, “No-able bodied person was to receive money or other help from The Poor Law authorities in a workhouse. “Oliver Twist” helped influence social reform by showing how badly adults, as well as children, were treated in workhouses. This may have given children in workhouses hope that they could have better opportunities.
Dickens also used his own experiences as an inspiration and helped create a sense of realism. A “baby-farm” is a place where orphaned children were sent. The word “farmed” suggests that the children were treated like animals. Also the fact that they are called “crops” also gives this impression. Oliver was sent to one as his mother died and no other family was known of. Mrs. Mann is a deceptive and selfish character. She calls the children by their surnames. This shows that the children were treated with little or no respect. This shows that she has no maternal instincts.
Many of the orphans Mrs. Mann was in charge of died in her care, ” it did perversely happen in eight and a half cases out of ten”. Nothing was done about this as they were only orphans and no one really cared about them, “a parish child that had been overlooked”. She speaks to the children as they are beneath her and with no respect at all, “brat”, but she speaks to Mr. Bumble with up most respect. She does this, as he is higher up the chain of command than she is. Although this does not mean that he is smarter or more educated than her.