Themes of Oliver Twist

Themes of Oliver Twist

Extreme poverty

Severely affected by his poverty as a child, Dickens addresses poverty in Oliver Twist by closely observing the effects of Oliver and its surroundings – including malnutrition and death. He comments on the treatment of heresy in work warehouses and the hypocrisies that often mark the organizations and their representatives who are tasked with caring for them. Dickens also describes the dastardly and sometimes fatal conditions in which the poor must live. Thus, the strong development of the theme of poverty and its consequences of the novel “Oliver Twist” reflects Dickens’ social consciousness and his lifelong interest in curing a major social ill of his period.


Criminality is closely tied with the ideas of evil, poverty, and hypocrisy. When all else fails, the poor may be driven to crime, particularly petty theft. But it is far from the only type of crime that Dickens discovers in Oliver Twist. He shows how greed leads to theft and murdering act. He explores that no boy can commit a crime if they are not trained for criminality.

Child labor and child abuse

In Oliver Twist, child labor is one of the significant themes and child abuse is both personal and institutional. Children are regularly beaten as punishment. Oliver is beaten by both the parish beadle and his master when Noah Claypole accuses him of attempted murder. In Victorian England, a common punishment for child criminal activity was the public whip. Dickens finds the practice disgusting. The “good” people in the novel never punish Oliver because he is never worthy of punishment. Other abuses of children also take place in the novel: they are locked in dark places, publicly harassing, and starvation.

Country life vs city life

The Country life versus city life, which means the idealization of the countryside, is one of the predominant themes of the novel “Oliver Twist”. The novel takes place in two different moral places: country and city. The country is everything outside London and its outlying villages; London is the primary city. For Dickens, a country is a place of peace, quiet, hard work, and strong family structures that ensure that people continue to work hard and avoid criminality. The city is, however, a place of difficult working conditions, where the poor have to struggle to overcome all the difficulties of “modern” industrial life.

The Failure of Charity

Much of the first part of the novel “Oliver Twist” satirizes the organizations of charity that were run by the church and government in Dickens’s time. The system, described by Dickens, was implemented by the Poor Law of 1834, which stipulated that the poor could only receive government assistance if they moved into government workhouses. Residents of those workplaces were essentially like prisoners whose rights were completely sealed by a host of severe regulations. Labor was required, families were almost always separated, and food and clothing rations were meager. This methodology worked on the principle that poverty was the result of laziness and that terrible conditions in the workplace would motivate the poor to improve their conditions.

Click Here: For notes of novel

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
Articles: 380

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