Topic: Be it resolved that in his work Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens seems to be arguing that influence and environment (nurture), rather than inherent vice (nature), cause criminal behaviour.
CON- for nature
It is apparent that Oliver Twist is a novel that contrasts the nature of good with the nature of bad. Furthermore, it is inherent vice that makes the criminals within these pages and not influence or environment. The characters of Fagin, Oliver, and Monks clearly demonstrate this fact proving proof that nature is what directs and shapes us.
Fagin is a character of evil nature. Even when he could have been given some sort of redemption he refuses and remains evil. In prison he tries to induce Oliver to fool the guards and set him free, “Say I’ve gone to sleep-they’ll believe you. You can get me out, if you take me so.” (Ch. 52, p.414) There are several passages that suggest Fagin has been a criminal for a very long time and that his nature is not easily changed. When we are introduced to Monks, he says that Fagin has been in the business of criminalizing boys for a good while, “Why not have kept him here among the rest, and made a sneaking, snivelling pickpocket of him at once (…) Haven’t you done it, with other boys, scores of times?”. (Ch.26, p.194) In earlier chapters, Oliver also seems to make this connection. “Deeply laid plans for the destruction of inconveniently knowing or over-communicative persons, had been really devised and carried out by the old Jew on more occasions than one, he (Oliver) thought by no means unlikely. (Ch.18, p.130) Fagin also confesses, shortly after Oliver catches a glimpse of him admiring stolen jewels, that: “The folks call me a miser, my dear. Only a miser; that’s all.” (Ch.9 p.62), as if it were a fact of his nature and he could not simply change the title.
Oliver Twist is the most obvious example of how it is nature that causes a person’s behaviour. Throughout the novel, Oliver is constantly surrounded by criminals but he remains sweet and innocent. While he is often forced into criminal behaviour his heart is never into it and he never actually steals anything. It is clear that Fagin is determined to turn him but Oliver somehow manages to resist. It is as Dickens writes at the beginning of the novel in chapter 2, page 49: “But nature or inheritance had implanted a good sturdy spirit in Oliver’s breast: it had had plenty of room to expand, thanks to a spare diet of the establishment; and perhaps to this circumstance may be attributed to his having a ninth birthday at all.” It is his nature that drives him forward and gives him his strong will to resist evil. As Dickens hints, he has inherited this nature from his mother who was described as being “such a gentle lamb” (page 227, chapter 24) by Old Sally Thingummy, and as having a “gentle heart, and noble nature” (Ch.51, p.399). Despite his surroundings, Oliver remains pure. His environment had...