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Influences Of Charles Dickens In The Victorian Era Literature

1447 words - 6 pages

Charles John Huffam Dickens is regarded as one of the most prominent figures in literature, due to his work during the 19th century, referred to as the Victorian Era. Throughout his childhood and adolescence, Dickens endured harrowing experiences that significantly sculpted his approach to writing. The impact of these experiences are apparent in his various works, in which he utilizes literary techniques such as satire and dark humor, in order to provide social commentary on the various flaws of Victorian Era society. Charles Dickens’ literary perspective was significantly influenced by the emotional and psychological ramifications of the time he spent at Warren’s Blacking Factory, his shattered relationship with his mother, and the corruption/individualism he observed as a Parliamentary journalist; all of which are evident in his Victorian Era literary work, Oliver Twist.
Dickens’ first significant experience that influenced his novel, Oliver Twist, occurred when he was forced to work at Warren’s Blacking Factory. At the tender age of eleven, Dickens had to work in a boot-blacking factory in order to support his family, after his father, John Dickens, was sent to debtors’ prison in Marshalsea located in London, England (Smith 127). Due to the “Poor Laws” established in England in 1834, Dickens was completely separated from his family and had to withstand the abuse and brutality administered by the workhouse officials. Government bureaucrats ensured that having the poor work at these workhouses would reduce the cost of governing the poor, alleviate beggars, and encourage the poor to work harder to support themselves; however, Dickens championed the denunciation of the Poor Laws with the satirical nature of Oliver Twist (“1834 Poor Laws” 1). Dickens demonstrates, within his novel Oliver Twist, the overall social attitude towards the poor, in which they are considered inherently evil and are subsequently regarded as criminals. For example, in chapter two of Oliver Twist, Oliver makes a daring statement declaring, “Please, Sir, I want some more.” (Dickens 13); referring to the gruel served for supper at the workhouse. In response to this ‘heinous’ act, Dickens mocks the authority figures, represented by Mr. Bumble and other parish board members, who severely punish Oliver for the ‘crime’ of requesting for more food. Dickens continues to describe how Oliver is unjustly treated like a prisoner, where Oliver is given even less gruel, confined to a small coal cellar, and publically beaten. In addition to the physical abuse that he along with many other poor workhouse children had to bear, Dickens was also psychologically tormented, where those who were his caretakers devalued his self-worth. Dickens exhibits the dehumanization of these poor children in chapter two of Oliver Twist, where he delineates how Mr. Bumble formulates names for the children by simply naming them upon their unfortunate arrival in alphabetical order and through this trivial...

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