Give the Character Sketch of Oliver in Dickens' Novel "Oliver Twist" ~ All About English Literature

For Exclusive Notes and Analysis

Monday, 22 August 2016

Give the Character Sketch of Oliver in Dickens' Novel "Oliver Twist"

Give the Character Sketch of Oliver in Dickens' Novel "Oliver Twist"

In his preface to the third edition of Oliver Twist, Dickens says “I wished to show in little Oliver the principle of Good surviving through every adverse circumstances and triumphing at last.” As the child hero of a melodramatic novel of social protest, Oliver Twist is meant to appeal more to our sentiments than to our literary sensibilities. If we appreciate Oliver, it is the propensity towards always being good and if we sympathise with him, it is for his being a deprived and orphan child.


Oliver, an orphan boy (son of Edwin Leeford and Agnes Flemming) is the kiddie protagonist of the novel. A dear, grateful, gentle child who “instead of possessing too little feeling, possessed rather too much.” He is also a link among three different worlds depicted in the novel – the workhouse, the crime world, and the world of the genteel middle class people. He is therefore more a symbol than a fully individualised character. In the opening sentence of the novel Dickens describes him as an “item of morality”. Dickens wanted to make him an instrument of exposing the inhumanity and the callousness of the workhouse and the underworld during the Victorian Era. He belongs to the class to which Huckleberry Finn and Becky Sharp belong. He is a mobile character and the novelist makes him freely come across the different cross section of the society.


When Oliver is born, the narrator tells us that he could be anybody—the "the child of a nobleman or a beggar". But then the parish authorities step in, wrap him in the parish clothes that are like a uniform, and just like that, he is "badged and ticketed, and fell into his place at once—a parish child—the orphan of a workhouse". Oliver’s name is an important marker of his identity, too: his mother dies before she can name him, and his father is dead before he’s even born. So again, it’s up to the parish authorities to name him, and Mr. Bumble chooses the name "Oliver Twist." Mr. Bumble tells Mrs. Mann that the name was pretty much arbitrary—he just "made it up" because it was time for a "T" name. He doesn’t explain what the inspiration was.



From the very little description of Oliver’s appearance we come to know that he is delicate and handsome.  ‘Face is the mirror of mind’ is applicable in Dickens’ characters. He always looks innocent as he is innocent from inside. Bill Sikes is evil as he looks evil. The diabolical and sinister nature of Fagin is adequately reflected on his face, and so is Oliver’s innocence. Mr. Brownlow also does not need a second thought o convince himself of Oliver’s innocence.


Another point to be noted about Oliver’s character is that his virtue remains uncontaminated throughout the novel. Most of his life is spent under the care of scoundrels like Mr. Bumble, Mrs. Mann, the inconsiderate Mr. Sowerberry, the sneakish rogue Noah Claypole, the devilish Fagin and the odious Sikes. Anyone living under the shadow of the wicked characters would have either completely succumb or turned into a rogue himself.  "White" or even “Snow White” wouldn’t actually be a bad name for Oliver.


Apart from his almost incredible piety and irreproachable conduct, his one positive characteristics that is conspicuously in evidence in the early chapters in his courage. He is brave enough to approach to the board of Workhouse and makes his famous demand, “Please, sir, I want some more.” Further evidence of his courage is seen in Chapter III when he resists being apprenticed to Mr. Gamfield, the Chimney sweep and in Chapter VI when he gives a sound thrashing to Noah Claypole. But after he goes to London, he is almost swallowed by the circumstances and after this “everything seems done to him and for him, almost nothing is done by him.”


Throughout the novel, Dickens uses Oliver’s character to challenge the Victorian idea that paupers and criminals are already evil at birth, arguing instead that a corrupt environment is the source of vice. At the same time, Oliver’s incorruptibility undermines some of Dickens’s assertions.
 ~~~~~*~~~~~
Share:

Follow Me in Social Media

Get Free Updates

Tags

A Doll's House (1) A Renouncing of Love (1) Absurd Drama (2) African English Literature (2) Agyeya (1) Alexander Pope (7) American Literature (26) Amitav Ghosh (3) Analyses (22) Anglo-Saxon Period (1) Aravind Adiga (1) Arthur Miller (5) Australian Literature (2) Beowulf (3) Bertrand Russell (2) Bible (1) Biographies (12) Book Review (2) British Literature (106) Broad Notes (94) Character Analysis (2) Charles Dickens (1) Charles Lamb (2) Charlotte Bronte (2) Chetan Bhagat (2) Chinua Achebe (1) Christopher Marlowe (2) Classical Literature (2) Composition (4) Creative Writing (5) D. H. Lawrence (1) Daniel Defoe (1) Diaspora (4) Drama (1) Dream Children: A Reverie (1) E-book Download (12) Edmund Spenser (1) Edward Fitzgerald (1) Edward II (3) Elizabethan Era (2) English Language (15) English Literature (9) English Literature Quiz (8) Escapism (1) Essay (12) Essays (12) Eugene O'Neill (7) Explanations (3) Feminism (3) Francis Bacon (4) Frankenstein (4) Free E-book Download (5) Free PDF Download (4) Genre (1) Geoffrey Chaucer (1) George Eliot (4) George Herbert (1) George Orwell (1) Girish Karnad (1) Hard Times (1) Heart of Darkness (1) Henrik Ibsen (1) Henry Vaughan (2) Historical Novel (6) History of English Literature (22) Indian Drama (2) Indian English Poetry (1) Indian Fiction (4) Indian Writing in English (34) Indo-Anglican Literature (33) Interesting Facts (9) Interpreter of Maladies (2) Jane Austen (2) Jane Eyre (2) Jayanta Mahapatra (2) Jhumpa Lahiri (3) John Donne (5) John Dryden (1) John Keats (4) Joseph Addison (1) Joseph Conrad (1) Keki N. Daruwalla (1) Kenilworth (3) Kim (1) Knowledge and Wisdom (1) Leo Tolstoy (1) Linguistics (2) Literary Criticism (5) Literary Essay (9) Literary Facts (1) Literary MCQ (4) Literary Photo Album (1) Literary Terms (14) Literary Trends (1) Literary Types (7) Lord of the Flies (1) Lyric (1) M. K. Anand (2) Mac Flecknoe (1) Macbeth (7) Mahadevi Verma (2) Man Eater of Malgudi (2) Mark Twain (1) Mary Shelley (4) Mathew Arnold (1) Midnight's Children (1) Modern Poetry (3) Modernism (1) Motivational Short Story (21) My Penning (1) Nayantara Sahgal (1) Notes (25) Novel (60) Novels (6) O' Henry (1) Ode to a Nightingale (1) Ode to the West Wind (1) Oedipus Rex. Oedipus the King (2) Of Friendship (1) On Fame (1) Online Quiz (8) Othello (1) P B Shelley (1) P. B. Shelley (1) Paulo Coelho (2) Philological Notes (10) Phonetics (3) Picaresque Novel (5) Plays (41) Poetry (52) Popular Literature (1) Post Colonial Literature (1) Post Colonialism (1) Pride and Prejudice (2) Prosody (3) Quiz (6) Quotations (6) R. K. Narayan (2) Rabindranath Tagore (2) Raja Rao (1) Random Quiz (6) Rape of the Lock (5) Realistic Fiction (1) Restoration Era (2) Rhetoric (2) Robert Browning (1) Robinson Crusoe (1) Romantic Poetry (2) Romanticism (2) Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1) Rudyard Kipling (1) Salman Rushdie (2) Samuel Beckett (3) Sarojini Naidu (1) Seven Ages of Man (1) Shakespearean Influence (2) Shakespearean Plays (11) Shakespearean Sonnets (4) Sheridan (4) Short Notes (10) Short Stories (9) Soliloquy (1) Songs of Innocence (1) Sons and Lovers (1) Sophocles (1) Sri Aurobindo (1) Substance Writing (1) Summary (8) Sylvia Plath (1) T. S. Eliot (2) Texts (10) The Adventure of Tom Sawyer (1) The Alchemist (1) The Crucible (3) The Emperor Jones (7) The Golden Light (2) The Guide (1) The Mill on the Floss (4) The Namesake (1) The Pulley (2) The Rivals (5) The Shadow Lines (3) The Sunne Rising (5) The Superannuated Man (1) The Town Week (1) The White Tiger (1) The Winter's Tale (2) Things Fall Apart (1) Thomas Hardy (2) Thomas Wyatt (1) Toni Morrison (6) Tragedy (3) Tughlaq (1) Untouchable (2) Waiting for Godot (2) Walter Scott (3) Way of the World (1) William Blake (2) William Golding (1) William Shakespeare (14) William Wordsworth (3) Word Notes & Annotations (1) Word Notes & Anotations (2)