Oliver Twist’ was written by Charles Dickens. ‘Charles Dickens was a figure of whom everyone had something to say, he was a public man and a famous man, and he assumed both of these slightly different roles in his early twenties.’ Oliver Twist was originally published in the 1830s. Throughout this novel Dickens makes use of irony, satire and humour, which culminates to form Oliver Twist, a classic of 19th century fiction. Hypocrisy is a major feature throughout the novel, promoting such aspects as the workhouse, which is designed to help the poor and stop them from residing in the filth of the streets. However, the workhouse is a place enveloped in dirt and filth. This is a constant feature throughout the novel and not only pokes fun at characters such as Mr. Bumble but reveals the inhumane treatment of orphans and the anti-Semitism, which culminates in the stereotypical Jew- Fagin, at the time this book was written. This book is a true classic of 19th century fiction.
Irony is present throughout Oliver Twist and is one of the main literary devices that Dickens uses. Just as hypocrisy is a major feature in the novel so is satire as such characters as Mr. Bumble and Fagan are satirized by Dickens; along with various institutions present in the book. Dickens uses irony to convey the dire circumstances Oliver and the other orphans find themselves in. Dickens gives accounts of the lower classes living conditions and ironically refers to Oliver and his fellow orphans to be “without the inconvenience of too much food or too much clothing,” when truthfully the young children are starving and wearing rags. This is what leads to Oliver being forced to ask for more gruel and his eventual removal from the workhouse.
Chapter five was one chapter that stuck out in my mind because of Dickens use of irony. Upon Oliver’s first encounter with Mr. Noah Claypole we witness Dickens’ use of witty irony and satire. Mr. Claypole comes off as a condescending, overgrown, cowardly bully during this encounter. He threatens Oliver as he attempts to open the door and then kicks him upon entering:
‘With this, Mr. Claypole administered a kick to Oliver, and entered the shop with a dignified air, which did him great credit.’
Dickens use of irony and satire here conveys him as the bully he is and the opposite of what Dickens sarcastically refers to him as. This sharp ironic wit is a reoccurring feature throughout this novel and Mr. Claypole’s true character is revealed when he makes comments about Oliver’s mother which end’s in a skirmish between both Oliver and Mr. Claypole.
This leads to another prime example of Dickens satirizing the institutions of the 1830s. The beadle, Mr. Bumble, can be seen to personify the institutions that Dickens is attempting to satirize. A prime example is evident when the beadle comes to reprimand Oliver for his outburst with Mr. Claypole. The Beadle says:
‘Do you know this here voice, Oliver?’ in a deep tone.
‘Yes’, replied Oliver ...