Dickens' Criticism of the 1834 Poor Law in Oliver Twist Essay

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Dickens' Criticism of the 1834 Poor Law in Oliver Twist

Dickens criticised the 1834 poor law in many different ways within the first five chapters. He does this firstly by cleverly portraying the
Victorians attitudes towards the poor. He does this in chapter 1 by referring to Oliver as 'the item of mortality' suggesting how lowly his position in society is. Also the difficulty of Oliver's birth and the fact his mother dies, gives us some idea of the dangers of child birth in Victorian society and the amount of negligence his mother receives from the surgeon. Another way he shows the attitudes towards the poor is by describing the unfeeling and clearly drunk nurse who was 'tasting in the corner' instead of taking care of Oliver
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His criticism extends from the actual carer to the authorities that are supposed to keep check on how the new law is implemented , but their reports amount to nothing. Dickens also describes Mr Bumble with apparent glee as this pompous, fat and self important man who is literally living off the poor. The significance of Oliver?s characterisation is important because he is described as ?reckless with misery? suggesting that his life and possibly other peoples lives are so awful that they could be convinced to do anything e.g. go to the workhouse.

Dickens? use of black humour is also part of his criticism of the poor law. He uses black humour well in the fifth chapter where he describes how Mr Sowerberry and Mr Bumble just sat by the fire and read the paper with the clergy man whilst the grieving family sat outside in the rain waiting for them. Another example of black humour is in the third chapter where the board and Mr Gamfield are haggling over the
?price? of Oliver, again this links to the idea of Oliver being treated like an animal. There is even a case of black humour in the first chapter when Oliver?s mother dies while the surgeon is quietly warming his hands by the fire. This shows he is eager to leave the scene so he can earn some money from his paying customers.

By criticising the 1834 poor law in this way he was hoping to reveal the shocking true nature of the poor peoples lives. He was

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