Historical Context

by eliterature
Last updated 7 years ago

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Discipline:
Language Arts
Subject:
Literature

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Historical Context

The novel takes place against a sinister background: slime and filth seem inescapable. The weather is often bitterly cold, and rain and fog are frequent.Because criminals are thought to be creatures of the night, a large amount of significant action that takes place after dark. Sunlight rarely penetrates their gloomy world.

The story of Oliver Twist is a dark tale of corruption, degrading living conditions, and the terror of unanticipated violence.The novel deals with poverty and crime — the results of abandoning the rules and practices of social awareness and compassion.

Setting

Historical Context

England in the 1830s was undergoing a transformation from an agricultural, rural economy to an urban, industrial nation. The growing middle class had achieved an economic influence equal to the British aristocracy.In the 1830s, the middle class clamored for a share of political power with the landed gentry. As a consequence, Parliament passed the Reform Act, which granted the right to vote to middle-class citizens. This desire gave rise to the Evangelical religious movement and inspired sweeping economic and political change.ENGLISH CLASS STRUCTURE: - The highest social class belonged to the “gentleman,” an aristocrat who did not have to work for his living. -The middle class was stigmatized for having to work,.In addition, in the eyes of middle-class English society, those who could not support themselves were considered immoral and evil. Therefore, such individuals should enjoy no comforts or luxuries in their reliance on public assistance. In order to create the misery needed to deter immoral idleness, families were split apart upon entering the workhouse. Husbands were permitted no contact with their wives. Mothers were separated from children, Brothers were separated from their sisters In short, the state undertook to become the surrogate parents of workhouse children, whether or not they were orphans. Meals served to workhouse residents were deliberately inadequate, so as to encourage the residents to find work and support themselves.Dickens meant to demonstrate this incongruity through the figure of Oliver Twist, an orphan born and raised in a workhouse for the first ten years of his life. His story demonstrates the hypocrisy of the petty middle-class bureaucrats, who treat a small child cruelly while voicing their belief in the Christian virtue of giving charity to the less fortunate.

England in 1830s


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