Money In Dickens. This Is A Chronological Analysis Of Dickens' Treatment Of Filthy Lucre, And How His Perception Changed And Matured Through Time.

2905 words - 12 pages

Examine Dickens' development of the theme of money.Money is a central theme in Dickens' novels. He strove to recreate with precision the world around him and its issues, and so it is fitting that money occupies such a conspicuous place at the heart of his body of work. As he ages and his work matures, Dickens' view and treatment of money changes and complicates in parallel, whether it is his central theme or not.In Oliver Twist, money is represented as a crude panacea for all ills, as Snagsby views the half-crown in Jo's case in Bleak House. Oliver Twist is a fable of money and how (and how not) to get it. Oliver's life follows an archetypal rags-to-riches arc as simplistic as it is traditional, with his eventual wealth un-earned but well deserved. It is the goal which all characters in the novel pursue, and the fulcrum on which the plot rests. The money itself is represented as a destination: there are no attachments to it, or furtherings from it. Unlike later novels, money exists without social connections or connotations, in a void of consequence beyond itself. Money is not of itself imbued with any specific character or associations: the ills that arise from it are owing to the nature of the people seeking it, and the means in which they do so. It is not money that makes Fagin criminal, it is Fagin's self that does.None of the money in Oliver Twist is 'sourced' as it were: Brownlow's wealth exists in a vacuum of class, work, or moral consequence. This even applies to the crucial sum of the book: Oliver's inheritance. though its origins are known, they are not critical to the plot of the novel, crammed amateurishly as they are into one chapter of the book's fifty-one. Fagin's wealth, though Dickens recognises, and forces us to recognise, its ill-gotten nature, is not at any stage morally autonomous from the people who use it.Dickens regarded impoverishment as a social failing and took an active and practical interest in the betterment of these children's lots. His literature reflects this concern, as with Jo in Bleak House, for example. It is an important theme in Oliver Twist: Oliver's salvation in the novel rests in part upon various acts of charity from the adults he encounters. Fagin's 'charity' contrasts with Brownlow's not only in its intentions but in that Brownlow's charity is his sole defining characteristic, whereas Fagin's admittedly morally charged philanthropy adds a facet to his otherwise basic sketching as a villain. Either way, the notion of charity exists as a simple one in Oliver Twist: its lampooned form in the workhouses and apprenticeships of Oliver's early life, or its more efficacious form as epitomised by Brownlow and Fagin. It exists devoid of the social pretension that haunts Mrs. Jellyby's efforts in Bleak House, or the strong pathos that William Dorrit's 'contributions' have in Little Dorrit.Dickens appreciates that money is both intensely serious and very funny, and his writing reflects this. Mr. Bumble's deeply...

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