This also builds up the suspense. Oliver has been told that a certain ‘gentleman’ lives here and we would be thinking as to why a gentleman would stay in a place such as this. This even mystifies the story as we can be left wondering as to what ‘kind’ of gentleman stays in an area in which, ‘the sole places that seemed to prosper amid the general blight of the place, were the public-houses. ‘ From this we can further understand the area in which this man stays. The only places that seem to prosper were the public houses so it is quite clear that people who were fond of drinking visited the place quite often.
This gives the place a gloomy atmosphere, as we can see the word ‘blight’ and the mere fact that only public houses seemed to prosper in this part of city of London. We can see that this gentleman’s room is not something to beam about, too as, ‘the walls and the ceiling of the room were perfectly black with age and dirt. ‘ This use of descriptive language shows us that Dickens told us half as much about the people and their class and standard of living just through the place in which they lived. The ironical word used here is the word, ‘perfectly.
‘ This word tells us that the place was perfectly black to suit the people inside it as if they would not prefer to lie in a lighter and cleaner surrounding, as this was ‘perfect’. This can be aptly compared to Fagin himself, ‘a very old shrivelled Jew, whose villainous-looking and repulsive face was obscured by a quantity of matted red hair. ‘ This shows us that Fagin was as dirty and filthy as his own surroundings. It even shows us that Oliver would be forced to do something evil and ‘villainous’ in the company of this man and it, therefore, prepares the reader for something evil and mysterious.
The relevance of the setting to the character is quite clear. The setting tells s about the character that resides in. So we can see that the setting tells us a lot about the place in which Fagin stayed and gives us a good view into the characters of the men belonging to the underworld. The upper branches of society did not stay in dirty and filthy places like Fagin. The common masses respected these people. Even in this society the setting counts as being one of the most important aspects of the story. The setting her can be used more as a comparison than an actual description.
This gives us an idea as to the different ways in which people at opposite ends on the richness scale lived. The street on which Mr. Brownlow stays is described quite appropriately, ‘stopped at length before a neat house, in a quiet shady street near Pentonville. ‘ The adjectives, ‘quiet, shady,’ have been used to show the serene atmosphere that prevailed over the area in which Mr. Brownlow stayed. The house in which Mr. Brownlow stayed in was, in Oliver’s words, described appropriately as being, ‘so quiet and neat, and orderly, everybody so kind and gentle.
‘ This portrays Mr. Brownlow’s home as ‘heaven itself. ‘ The use of a string of adjectives, ‘quiet,’ ‘neat,’ ‘kind,’ gives an idea as to why Oliver liked being there. The house is being compared to heaven, again showing us that Oliver appreciated all the care and attention he was getting and did not want to leave these surroundings. We can see that the street on which the neat house was set is itself an indication to the kind of people that lived there. As we have already seen, the setting has also been used to describe the people that stay in that place.
Mr. Brownlow’s house was neat, orderly and so was he. This, as we have already seen is another way Dickens conveys to us the essence of society. For example we can compare Fagin’s lair to Mr. Brownlow’s house. For Fagin’s lair the words, ‘black,’ ‘filthy,’ ‘wretched,’ have been used. As for Mr. Brownlow’s house the words ‘quiet,’ ‘neat,’ ‘orderly,’ have been used. This even tells us of Mr. Brownlow’s character. When we are first introduced to him, he is described as ‘a very respectable looking personage, with a powdered head and gold spectacles.
‘ This can be quite rightly compared to the way in which he likes his house to be kept. There are exceptions to the rule that all the characters of the people in the novel can be derived by understanding the places in which they stayed. Mr. Grimwig belonged to the upper class and might as well have stayed in comfortable surroundings but his attitude towards the orphans is negative. This makes him different from Mr. Brownlow and tells us a little more about the upper classes. Besides this, we also can see that the setting tells us immediately what part of the city, Mr.
Brownlow lived in. We can see that he lived in the upper branches of society where the world of crime did not dare to break in, except in times of robbery. Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Mann represent the middle class people of the novel. They were assigned to ‘take care’ of the orphans and desolate at the workhouse. But as we have already seen, the people in the workhouse were not treated well at all. The setting in which these people dwell tells us that they get a comfortable wage from the board and that they are quite content with their lives.
The middle class people also had less work to do as we can see from the attitudes of Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Mann. The workhouse, in which they worked or rather, governed, was also full of orphans and the poor who could not survive even on the ‘meals’ given to them there. The setting here is the poor people and the orphans who lived there. Dickens has used poignant language to appeal to our sympathy and makes the point successful that the middle class people did not do their duty properly and the orphans were left starving to death.
He manages to achieve this again by using irony when he says, ‘juvenile offenders of the poor laws rolled about the floor all day, without the inconvenience of too much food or clothing. ‘ This shows us that the orphans were not well dressed or well fed. They were ‘offenders’ in Dickens words. He tells us perhaps that is the reason they don’t get proper clothes to wear. It also shows us that the young children were ‘offenders,’ again reinforcing the idea that the middle class thought they were a burden and were criminals before they had even seen outside the workhouse.
Besides stating a few facts about the middle class people, it also tells us something about society. The people never spoke out against this kind of injustice. The workhouses continued to exist and not much was done about it, despite the fact that orphans were dying by the dozen every week. It even shows us that the poor laws that had just been passed did not give any support to the poor and the homeless. They had no alternative but to enter the workhouse. The middle class people do not really play a significant role, besides Mr.
Bumble, who tells us a lot about a man belonging to the middle class but strived to be part of the upper class. This even goes to show that these people did not spend on the children but on themselves. Mrs. Mann did just that, ‘she knew what was good for children: and she had a very accurate perception of what was good for herself. ‘ It even shows that they did not care much about the orphans nor about their jobs. They worked only for the money, which just gives us an insight into why Dickens called the world one of sorrow and trouble.
The setting of the novel is quite important, as we have already seen. The streets, houses, lanes, all tell us about the kind of life that different people lived in different parts of London. As the Artful Dodger wheels through London or when Mr. Brownlow’s coach rattles through the streets, we get a glimpse of the society and the kind of people and their actions that prevailed at the time in the Victorian era. It helps us understand why the people behave as they do and tells us of the difficulties people faced at the time.
The setting provides the stepping stone to the characters, as we have already seen is directly to their surroundings. This even prepares the reader for either the suspense or the dramatic parts of the story. The people, as we will see, also play an important part in depicting their class and the kind of places they dwell in. In short, it introduces us to Victorian society and helps our understanding of the people and their actions immensely. From the setting, we move to the characters of the novel. Each character has played some role in portraying the society that he/she stayed in.
This helps the reader to understand the novel further as we have already have been introduced to London society through the setting. The characters of the novel too play an important role in depicting the kind of society they live in and how they react to different situations that arouse during the novel and of course, the course of their life. To begin with, the main character, Oliver Twist is the most significant. It is whom the story revolves around. It is also because of his many experiences that we get a broader view of the society of London.
As from his description we can see that Dickens wanted to highlight the fact that Oliver belonged to the group of orphans and that he was considered a lower class citizen. The fact that Oliver was at one point given a ‘sound thrashing,’ for, ‘atrociously presuming to be hungry. ‘ This shows us immediately belonged to the lower classes that were not allowed to voice their opinions on the way things were run in the world. It tells us about the poorer sections of society during the Victorian era. The men and women belonging to the criminal world are shown quite distinctly from other characters of the novel.
This is so that the reader can get a clear description of the character and how the rest of the class behaves and dresses. The main descriptions attributing to the quality of the criminals is their dress code. Dickens makes it quite clear that the men from the underworld have a certain way of dressing, as do the people of the higher classes. The first person from the underworld with whom Oliver has contact is The Artful Dodger. These three words tell us more about Dickens’ language. It tells us that this person has some skill, that is why he is ‘artful’ and that skill is of ‘dodging.
‘ Although this sounds mysterious to us, we may as well understand from the his nickname that he belongs to a group of society in which the people are uneducated but can get their way around their work. The description of this boy tells us more about his personality as we know that he was ‘common-faced enough. And as dirty a juvenile as one would wish to see. ‘ Dickens repeats the word ‘dirty’, which shows us that this boy has something to do with the dark and dismal surroundings we are told about. Later we are even told that, ‘he was short of his age, with rather bowlegs, and little, sharp, ugly eyes.
‘ Here again we can make out the use of adjectives to make the description more appealing and picturesque when he says, ‘He was, altogether, as roystering and swaggering a young gentleman as ever stood four feet six. ‘ Dickens even talks about the boy’s style of dressing, ‘he wore a man’s coat, which reached nearly to his heels,’ he had even worn ‘corduroy trousers. ‘ This shows us that the boy is different from Oliver and therefore draws a line that he belongs to a completely different class of society. This is not quite true as we learn later that he in reality was also an orphan but fell into crime.
The use of the negative adjectives, ‘dirty,’ ‘ugly,’ tell us that there is something disturbing about this boy or at least, he is not of good character. While this boy fell into the folds of crime, Oliver did not. This shows again how Oliver was different from other orphans. It also goes to show that orphans who have been adopted or have been accepted by some people as part of society have some morals and values. For example, Oliver does not steal even when he knows that he would go hungry otherwise Not all the starving orphans would have done the same.
Dickens gives us all the details because he might want us to apply the same basic concept to other characters belonging to the underworld. This character has, in his own way, been a representative of the people belonging to the underworld. We can see that Bill Sikes has also been described in this way as wearing, ‘very soiled breeches,’ ‘had a brown hat on his head, and a dirty belcher handkerchief. ‘ The use of the word of the words, ‘soiled,’ and ‘dirty,’ tell us that people of the underworld were not very clean and tidy as we might have expected from the setting itself that states that ‘the lanes were narrow and muddy.
‘ Dickens has repeatedly used the word ‘dirty,’ to state the characters of the people of this class of society and tells us that this section of society was not really respected or appreciated by anyone at the time. These people just added to the ‘sorrow and trouble’ of the world. The setting of the places gives a gist of the characters that reside there, as we have already noticed. This makes it even easier to understand the characters. It even shows the link between the setting and the characters. From the dark streets of London we move to the more pleasant parts of London.
These parts of London, as we may have already guessed is the residence of the upper class of society. The place has been, as we have already seen, to be serene and neat. Mr. Brownlow was the resident of a house on that street. He is one of the people belonging to the upper class of society. He represents a minority of the upper classes because he was quite different from the other gentlemen because of the way he thought and his attitude towards the lower classes and also orphans. Even though he is different in his attitude, he still has friends, even if they too disagree with his viewpoints. The first time we are introduced to Mr.
Brownlow is when the Artful Dodger takes Oliver to pickpocket a wealthy man. By chance, the man they see is Mr. Brownlow and the description of this man is more than sufficient to tell us that he is a ‘prime plant. ‘ ‘ The old gentleman was a very respectable looking personage, with a powdered head and gold spectacles. ‘ The use of adjectives dominates the gentleman’s description. He is respectable as we are shown. The fact that he wore gold spectacles indicated the fact that he was from among the wealthy of the city. This can be compared to Fagin as of being, ‘old shrivelled Jew,’ ‘villainous looking.
‘ This shows us the vast difference even in physical appearance of a man whose whole life had been devoted to crime and on the other hand a man who had nothing but love and kindness in his heart. As for Mr. Brownlow’s clothing we are told that he wore, ‘bottle-green coat with a black velvet collar, wore white trousers and carried a smart bamboo cane under his arm. ‘ This shows us that he was properly dressed and was neat and tidy. This can be aptly compared to Bill Sikes, ‘very soiled breeches,’ ‘had a brown hat on his head, and a dirty belcher handkerchief.
‘ Dickens has used the words ‘ smart,’ ‘velvet,’ to describe his appearance and the fact that he wore velvet tells us that he can afford wearing velvet because it was quite expensive at the time. The place where a character resides can be used to derive something of the class he lives in, as we have already seen. Mr. Brownlow’s house where existed a, ‘kindness and solicitude that knew no bounds. ‘ This can be true of Mr. Brownlow as well. It shows that Dickens likes to set his characters in atmospheres that help us understand their characters better and place them in their respective classes of society.
We would expect this kind of atmosphere only in the house of the wealthy and the fact that Mr. Brownlow owned a house like this classifies him as one of the people of the higher class. Mr. Grimwig is also another character that belongs to the higher and more sophisticated lifestyles. His description is also full of adjectives and as we see, it is not as likely to impress the reader as Mr. Brownlow’s. ‘A stout old gentleman,’ ‘dressed in a blue coat, striped waistcoat, nankeen breeches and gaiters.
‘ From this we can make out he was more of a country gentleman because mostly people from the country wore nankeen breeches and gaiters. These describe Mr. Grimwig accurately enough for us to judge that he is originally from the country. We can also compare his description to the one of Mr. Brownlow. The comparison between the two can be on the fact that they have different attitudes towards orphans. Perhaps we can understand why this is so. Mr. Grimwig came from the country where he might need boys like young Oliver or poor people to work on farms.