Have you ever thought about how it would be to live in a time of poverty? How would life be if you were poor and did not know from where you would be getting your next meal? What would it be like to be forced to live in a workhouse? These are some crucial questions you might ask yourself if you were living in early nineteenth century England. Charles Dickens, who was a lifelong champion of the poor, 1 addresses these central issues in his early novel and timeless masterpiece Oliver Twist (1838).
Dickens himself suffered the harsh abuse visited upon the poor by the English legal system. In England in the 1830s, the poor truly had no voice, political or economic. In particular, children were often mistreated and subjected to the poorest of working and living conditions. In point of fact, the Victorian Era was characterized by the use of children to help develop the economy. Child labourers received less than the essentials needed at home, school, and at work. In a nutshell, the life of a young worker was in essence the life of a slave.
In Oliver Twist, Dickens presents the everyday existence of the lowest members of English society and realistically portrays the horrible conditions of the nineteenth century workhouses. Hence, in the story of Oliver Twist, Dickens uses past experiences from his childhood and targets the Poor Law of 1834 2 which renewed the importance of the
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- Sirinya Pakditawan (Author), 2001, Childhood without rights or protection? Children in Victorian England and the Novel "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/186205