is an example of the author’s style and of his qualities as an artist. Dickens, who wants to portray the dramatic situation of children in workhouses, narrates the melodramatic story of an orphan exploited by a gang of thieves, who manages to preserve his most angelic character despite a very hard life, with keen social satire and realism.
Dickens is also very good at mixing social criticism with lively portraits of universal characters combining the pathetic with the comic. The comic element helps to highlight serious issues such as the bad treatment of orphans in workhouses.
Oliver Twist is a foundling. When he is nine years old, he is taken back to the workhouse in which he was born. He then runs away and meets a young pickpocket on the road. Oliver thinks he has found a friend and follows him to London where he is introduced to other friends, who are a gang of young criminals. The thieves force Oliver to help them in their criminal activities. Oliver is temporarily rescued by Mr Brownlow but some members of the gang kidnap the boy. After many incidents the gang is caught by the police and Oliver is discovered to be a relation of Mr Brownlow’s. He has finally found a family.
Oliver Twist is a child brought up in a house for orphans under the leadership of Mrs Mann. On Oliver’s ninth birthday Mr Bumble, the parish officer, a pompous man with a hypocritical sense of his own importance, comes to the house where Oliver lives with other children. The passage is rich in dialogue and characterization and gives a full portrait of Mrs Mann’s shrewdness and of Mr Bumble’s superficiality and dullness.
One example of sentimentalism is when Oliver pretends to be sorry at leaving Mrs Mann but he is only sorry at leaving his little friends at the orphanage, though he shared only misery with them.
One example of comic is when Dickens call Mrs Mann “his benevolent protectress”.