Society's Social Slip Up Essay

1321 words - 6 pages

Oliver Twist, written by Charles Dickens, is an intense denigration of society’s treatment toward the poor. In this time period depicted, wealth and class ascertained one’s status. This dim-witted but true reality forced many into a predetermined fate as with Oliver. When Oliver is first born, Dickens divulges on how the boy will be addressed: “the orphan of a workhouse—the humble, half-starved drudge—to be cuffed and buffeted through the world—despised by all, and pitied by none” (Dickens 3). Society cringed at the idea of the poor, viewing them as lesser beings. In Dickens’s era, laws and institutions were formed to “abet” the poor; however, these were actually meant to appease the “better” part of society. Even when the upper classes assert to be assuaging the lower-class dilemma, they only end up aggravating and adding to it. The rules called for the division of the poor families to ensure that they would not continue to repopulate the lower-class, as it was alleged that this rank was inherently immoral. The poor children were put into these institutions in belief that the state could raise them accordingly to society’s standards versus their “meager” parents. The workhouses, established by the middle-class, said purpose was to raise the poor children after the age of nine. However, these institutions replicated the vices it was “supposed” to obliterate by feeding and clothing the children as little as possible. The middle-class characters’ assumption that the lower-class is made up of innate criminals sustains their image of themselves as an unsoiled and virtuous group in society. These characters placed into positions of power, such as Mrs. Mann and Mr. Bumble, deduce that they are morally superior to their paupers, simply because they are not in the lowest class of society. They are especially intent on guaranteeing that those beneath them stay in these lower positions, rather than encourage and facilitate the poor’s upbringings as their title would intend them to do; they ignore their original purpose and instead treat the poor with disregard and malice. Novels for Students sums up the entirety of the poor’s lives: “Confined to workhouses, starved, and mistreated, the poor have no way of redeeming themselves from unending misery and death except by running away or turning criminal.” Society’s demeanor and ethics contradict the masquerade it attempts to portray by depreciating the poor and orphans.
Many supporting characters in Oliver Twist depict a sense of hypocriticalness; these characters are Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry and Ms. Corney, later known as Mrs. Bumble. Beginning with Mr. Sowerberry, he is an undertaker, who buys Oliver from the workhouse, because of Oliver’s sad demeanor would fit in with the description of his job. In a conversation between Mr. Bumble and Mr. Sowerberry, the undertaker explains that “there’s no denying that, since the new system of feeding has come in, the coffins are something narrower and more shallow than...

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