Dickens' Criticism Of The 1834 Poor Law In Oliver Twist

493 words - 2 pages

Dickens' Criticism of the 1834 Poor Law in Oliver Twist

Dickens criticised the 1834 poor law in many different ways within the
first five chapters. He does this firstly by cleverly portraying the
Victorians attitudes towards the poor. He does this in chapter 1 by
referring to Oliver as 'the item of mortality' suggesting how lowly
his position in society is. Also the difficulty of Oliver's birth and
the fact his mother dies, gives us some idea of the dangers of child
birth in Victorian society and the amount of negligence his mother
receives from the surgeon. Another way he shows the attitudes towards
the poor is by describing the unfeeling and clearly drunk nurse who
was 'tasting in the corner' instead of taking care of Oliver and his
dying mother.

Dickens characterisation is another form of criticism he gives the
poor law. He gives the characters names which reflect the type of
person they are and the lives they lead. He does this very well in
chapters two and three where he describes Mrs Mann. He describes her
as nothing but a common thief that steels money from children. The
care she gives is described by Dickens sounds more like abuse as he
lists cases of infants dying from hunger or sheer neglect. His
criticism extends from the actual carer to the authorities that are
supposed to keep check on how the new law is implemented , but their
reports amount to nothing. Dickens also describes Mr Bumble with
apparent glee as this pompous, fat and self important man who is

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