Literature Q. 3
O L I V E R T W I S T
In the text Oliver Twist, by social critique Charles Dickens, the author implies both his and societies
values through the use of characters who are privileged. The text reinforces the statement, "a literary text can reveal the values of a society and/or those of the author, through those whom they position as privileged within the text". Characters who are privileged in the text are those who imply unparalleled implication on the plot of the novel. We can classify privileged characters as the protagonist, Oliver Twist, his overseeing beadle, Mr Bumble and Fagin. Each character signifies a different social class, Oliver the orphans, Mr Bumble, the middle-class and Fagin, the minority groups, such as the Jews. Dickens uses each character to display societies values while simultaneously implying his own.
Oliver Twist, the protagonist provides strict evidence that the text implies societies values through his characterization. Oliver is an orphan in the text whose mother dies upon his birth, little is understood about his parents or about his family. The character of Oliver Twist is symbolic to the group of parish orphans, regarded as the lowest class of society, because they have no parents to inherit status from. Dickens comments upon this after recounting Oliver birth stating how, 'he was badged and ticketed (5)' as a parish child. The authors use of diction here implies how superficial class distinction is, stating that Oliver was badged and ticketed, straight after his birth, he sets a rather radical and condemning tone, objectifying Oliver (shmoop.com). Here the authors use of diction implies how he does not value the class system of his age, and thus we see how the protagonist implies the values of the author in the text. Oliver finds little friendship in his childhood, and before he is taken to the workhouse on his 8th birthday, Oliver is seen to 'burst into a agony of childish grief (11)" as he leaves his 'little companions in misery (11)', knowing 'that they were the only friends he had ever known(11)'. From this episode in the text, we are able to gather that the privileged character of Oliver Twist values friendship as he has seen little of it in his life, the author reinforces the statement when he creates a relationship between the character of Mr Brownlow and Oliver. Mr Brownlow proves to be Olivers first benefactor in the text, and after
being displaced from his care informs Rose, his second benefactress that he is ungrateful, 'To the kind gentleman and the dear old nurse who took so much care of me before(257).' From his actions here, we are able to see how the protagonist of the text can be seen to value friendship and, being symbolic to the orphans, the lowest group of society, imply how all orphans of society then valued friendship. From this we see how the privileged character of Oliver Twist displays the values of both the author and orphans in society, ultimately agreeing to the...