Critical realism in “Oliver twist” by Charles Dickens
Abstract: Charles Dickens is one of the greatest representatives of English critical
threalism in the 19 century. One of his favorite novels Oliver Twist, is well known all over the world. The novel portrays the poor child’s misery, the society of
darkness in London at that time. And the novel indicates its significance in critical realism.
critical realism Key words: Charles Dickens Oliver Twist
1. Introductinon: Charles Dickens, the greatest representatives of English critical
realism, was born in 1812. At that time, English society was not stable, a great
many corrupt organizations and a lot of injustice appeared. Charles Dickens was
not satisfied with the society and attacked the social reality with his pen. Oliver
Twist is his masterpiece. This novel reveals a dark corrupt society which had the
principle of making money illegally. In this thesis, I will focus on critical
realism represented in this novel by analyzing some characters in this novel; one
is Oliver Twist who is a naive, innocent, virtuous and brave orphan boy; another
is Fagin who is a sly person and ruins the innocent by cheating.
2. The life of Charles Dickens and his “Oliver Twist”
2.1 Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens was the greatest of the critical realists. He was born on February,1812. His father was a kind man, but because of the financial situation, e was put into the debtor’s prison with other members of his family. “ He would be a
gentleman by talent and achievement” (张玲.1983:34) At that time, Dickens was
eleven years old and lived by himself. He met all kinds of people and witnessed a lot of unfair phenomenon in the society. As a man, he is kind and merciful, sympathizing the poor and hating the vicious and being clear about what to love or hate. As a novelist, a feeling of love and hate provides him with an inexhaustible source for his creative works. Dickens is noted for his description of pathetic scenes that aims to arouse peoples’ sympathy.
2.2 Influences on English people of that time by “Oliver Twist”
Oliver Twist is one of the most important social novels in Dickens’ early works. It was the first time that Dickens led readers into a very sad world. This novel had a deep effect on the society of that time in England and admitted by people. The novel mainly talks about little Oliver who suffers a lot in his childhood, and expose the hypocrisy and cruelty of parish workhouse through the description of the little Oliver’s childhood in it. Dickens gives realistic pictures of the horrible existence in
workhouse. One of the important characteristics of the novel is the real and specific description of people who lived at the bottom of society. Their miserable lives are just the live reflection of the dark sides of British society. This made a lot of readers at that time get interested in social reform. People started to think about social reasons for all of those criminal phenomena.
3. Analysis of main characters
3.1 Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist is an innocent and brave orphan boy. He worked at the workhouse
as a younger boy and suffered a lot. Dickens criticizes the upper class and the authorities who treat the labour, poor and low class very badly. For the kind, Oliver, who knows what should be done and what should not be done refuses to be a thief. Oliver is thrown into a world full of poverty and crime. Though suffer enormous pain, such as hunger, thirst, beating and abuse, he never loses his good nature, being kind and gentle to everyone. Even when he learns what he has suffered is arranged by Monks, he still agrees to share the will with Monks. In this way, people are impressed deeply by the image of a poor but kind orphan and can not help tenderly
Dickens has the ideal response to the things”(张德标(1982；loving this child. “
107). Charles can see the future from this role.
Fagin, the master mind among the criminals, is as ugly in appearance as he is disgusting in feature. In Fagin, Dickens has attempted to describe a character displaying some of the complexities of normal human nature. When he is angry, the old man may conform to savage rage, but on ordinary occasions he is satisfied in a critical humor, which earns him the nickname of "the merry old gentleman" (CharleDickens,1997:25) Fagin is outstanding among the thieves. For money, he makes a lot of younger people steal, or rob. Here is some indication that there is still a few of human feelings left in Fagin's evil nature. On several occasions, he betrays a trace of kindliness toward Oliver. On the night that he makes Oliver into the Chertsey expedition, the old man checks his impulse to disrupt the persecuted child' sleep. The next day he implores Oliver to notice Sikes , for his own safety. From this character, Charles believes that humanity is good at last, which is the Charles’s hope of the future.
Oliver Twist is absolutely a good example of critical realism in English literature. He also encourages those poor people who were exploited to stand up, fight against the authorities and government. Charles Dickes depicts a vivid picture of 19th English society through the little hero’s life experiences, he exposes the evil nature of money-oriented people.
2.Dickens,Charles. Oliver Twist. London: Oxford University Press.1997. 3.张德标〈〈狄更斯评论集〉〉
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