The Abuse of the Poor in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens shows notable amounts of originality and morality in his novels, making him one of the most well-known novelists of the Victorian Era and preserving him through his great novels and short stories. One of the reasons his work has been so popular is because his novels reflect the issues of the Victorian era, such as the great disregard of many Victorians to the situation of the poor.
The reformation of the Poor Law in 1834 brings even more unavoidable problems to the poor. The Poor Law of 1834 allowed the poor to receive public assistance only through established workhouses, causing those in debt to be sent to prison. "Workhouses were in existence before 1834, but only the very old, the very sick, or the very young occupied them. The choice was clearly defined: live in a workhouse, find work, or starve to death outside. Many chose death" (Epstein 93) Unable to pay debts, new levels of poverty were created. Dickens recognizes theses issues with a sympathetic yet, somewhat, critical eye, due to his childhood experiences with debt, poverty, and child labor. He notices that England's politicians and people of the upper class try to solve the growing problem of poverty through the Poor Laws and what they presume to be charitable causes, but Dickens knows that these things will not be successful; in fact they are often inhumane.
Dickens' view of poverty and the abuse of the poor can be seen in Oliver Twist, the novel about an orphan, brought up in a workhouse and poverty to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the upper class people. Oliver Twist shows Dickens' perspective of society in a realistic, original
manner, which hopes to change society's views by combining a "set" of the actual social scene with fiction, designed to reveal the nature of such a society when exposed to a moral overview. Dickens uses satire in Oliver Twist to protest what the English believe are charitable solutions to the increasing poverty rates, extensive child labor in workhouses. Dickens witnesses an injustice happening in England's workhouses and works to make society's views of the abuse of children change, but by this time, the horrors of the workhouse were so established in the English scene that they were destined to become part of the British social legend "Those in favor of the workhouse supported it because it efficiently sealed off the poor, decreased population growth by separating husbands and wives, and shamed the needy"(Epstein 94)
Because of the Poor Law of 1834, the young children suffered more than the able bodied benefitted, so through Dickens' career, he becomes preoccupied with the use and abuse of the Poor Laws. Through satire, Dickens explores the relationships between the paupers and the masters of the workhouse. Satire is used to portray the cruelty, sufferings, and injustice in the workhouses especially through Mr. Bumble, Mrs. Corney, and Oliver,...