Charles Dickens（1812—1870）was a prominent novelist. He began to take to letters in 1832. He wrote so many works, such as drama, farce, essay, short and story, and the last one is the best accomplishment of his. Oliver Twist was one of his masterpieces, which has reflected the real and terrible life of London underworld. It has given expression to the benevolence and despotic that lies in the novel, and exposes the darkest, filthiest phenomenon. Moreover, according to the social background, we can find the creative depth and critical tendency. By recalling the development of social background and critical realism, and discussing model to which the writer gives, we can know Charles Dickens’s value in his novel.
Key words: Charles Dickens；Critical Realism; Characterization; Typical Literary Image
Chapter 1 Introduction ......................................................................................................................................... 1
Chapter 2 Character Analysis of Oliver Twist ..................................................................................................... 2
2.1 Charles Dickens ...................................................................................................................................... 2
2.2 Critical Realism ...................................................................................................................................... 4
2.2.1 Social Background…………………………………………………………………………………..4
2.2.2 Ideological Background…………………………………………………………………..…………6
2.3 Plot Setting ............................................................................................................................................. 8
2.4.1 Oliver Twist……………………………………………………………………………………….10
Chapter 3 Conclusions ....................................................................................................................................... 14
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 1 Introduction
Since Oliver Twist was published, critical realism has become a main stream in literary history. It reflects the people who live at the bottom of society. These critical realists of the mid-19th century were all honest people and real artists in spite of their limitations in their general point of view on life. By exposing the social injustice and the vices of the upper class, they put their hearts into depicting the miserable existence of the common people; they gave a ruthful picture of capitalist England of the time. They followed the fine tradition of their great literary predecessors of 18th century realism and early 19th century romanticism. They showed their warm sympathy on those people who suffered a lot. The greatest of the critical realists was Charles Dickens. In his early years, he did a lot of work, these experiences gave him a good knowledge of the political life of England at that time and it had a far reaching effect upon his lifelong contempt for all the political institutions.
Oliver Twist was one of Charles Dickens’s masterpieces, which has taken up an important position in literature. He often creates with very certain ideas about right and wrong. He was called the real great master, in that the figure in his novel is imbued with the unique feature of critical realism.
The research of Oliver Twist is widely carried out in China nowadays. To name a few, Professor Qiao Zhi guo, who is teaching in Shanghai International Studies University；Professor Qian qing , who is teaching in Beijing Foreign Studies University; professor Chang Yao xin, who is teaching in Nankai University in China and University of Guam in America. Based on former researches mentioned above, this paper is going to do some work on character analysis of this novel.
To understand the aim of Charles Dickens’s work, and his unique writing style, we should focus on the typical literary images, social background in the novel. Moreover, on the basis of Charles Dickens’s personal experiences, also in this article the author, from its narrative perspective and writing feature, explores the novel, and presents the writer’s writing aim perfectly. We can find the creative depth and critical tendency.
Chapter 2 Character Analysis of Oliver Twist
2.1 Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Portsea, England. His parents were middle-class, but they suffered financially as a result of living beyond their means. At 11 years old, as his father was in debt, the family was put in a debt prison. Forced by the plight, he had become a child labor in a boot and shoe cream workshop. The miserable experience in his young mind left psychic trauma, not only his deep concern and sympathy for the unfortunate children, and prompted him to struggle to escape poverty. As a young adult, he worked as a law clerk and later as a journalist. His experience as a journalist kept him in close contact with the darker social conditions of the Industrial Revolution, and he grew disillusioned with the attempts of lawmakers to alleviate those conditions.
In 1836 he then decided to write his own stories under the name of Boz. They were called the "Pickwick Papers" which were like comics for adults. Charles would write the words and a man would draw pictures for them. They were published in cheap monthly instalments. For the first one they published only 400 copies but by the 4th they had to print40, 000! The main character Mr Pickwick served time in a debtor’s prison like Charles's Father. Within four months of publishing his first story Charles was internationally famous. After that, he created one after another works, for example, "Oliver Twist" (1838), "The Old Curiosity Shop" (1840- 1841), "Dombey and Son" (1846-1848), "David Copperfield" (1849), "Bleak House" (1852), " a Tale of Two Cities" (1854) and "Great Expectations" (1860).（Chang Yaoxin, A Survey of English Literature, p.230）More than 20 novels and many short stories, essays, features and travel notes. Dickens successfully created many distinctive characteristics, the image of a unique character. His socially realistic novel of critical significance is not only to the British literary world a new looks, but also to the development of world literature.
With the money he earned, he was able to get married to a lady called Catherine Hogarth. Dickens had not forgotten his childhood hardships. He became famous, and had children. Because the continued impact of past experience had an effect on his family life and his children's education. From 1837 to 1852, Dickens couple gave birth to 10 children, 9 survived. To their children, Dickens could be regarded as a strict father. He developed strict house rules and receive the help of his sister, requiring that each child must be obey orderly. 2
Chapter 2 Character Analysis of Oliver Twist
For example, he always managed to find time to check whether the house was clean and tidy or not every morning. In addition, He also checks the small room furnishings, accessories are put in place. In English literature, novel is a brilliant stars peak times in nineteenth-century. In these great novelists, Dickens is a most brilliant star. Dickens had suffered a difficult childhood world, so he was sympathetic for the working class people and the most helpless children. Dickens is a prolific writer; he was depended on hard- work and talent to create a large number of classics. He is a master of humour, often use the language with humour and romance, to tell the truth of the world, so that Marx also had praise him as "an outstanding novelist.”
He became an editor of a monthly magazine called Bentley's Miscellany which he made instantly success by his serialization of Oliver Twist, which is probably his most famous novel. Oliver was born in a Workhouse, and Dickens used this novel to show how bad these places were and how they were often run by corrupt and cruel people. He is a renowned English writer all around the world. He was a critical realist of the Victorian Age. In 1837, the first installment of Oliver Twist appeared in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany, which Dickens was then editing. It was accompanied by illustrations by George Cruikshank, which still accompany many editions of the novel today. Even at this early date, some critics accused Dickens of writing too quickly and too prolifically, since he was paid by the word for his serialized novels. Yet the passion behind Oliver Twist, animated in part by Dickens’s own childhood experiences and in part by his outrage at the living conditions of the poor that he had witnessed as a journalist, touched his contemporary readers. Greatly successful, the novel was a thinly veiled protest against the Poor Law of 1834, which dictated that all public charity must be channeled through workhouses.” Oliver Twist is Charles Dickens second novel. The only 20-year-old writer determined to learn from the British novelist of realism painter William Hogarth（1697– 1764）, who had the courage to face life and realistically express the tragic life of the London slums. He held a high moral purpose: to protest social injustice, and to arouse public opinion, the implementation of the reform, so that the poor are in dire straits in the rescue. Because of this, Dickens has always been praised by Chinese and the former Soviet scholars as "the British literature, critical realism and the representatives of the founder and greatest"（何文安译《雾都孤儿》.）. Dickens was a lifelong champion of the poor. He himself suffered from the harsh abuse visited upon the poor by the English legal system. In England in the 1830s, the poor truly had no voice, political or economic. In Oliver Twist, Dickens presents the everyday existence of the lowest members of English society. He goes far beyond the experiences of the workhouse, extending his depiction of poverty to London’s squalid streets, dark alehouses, and thieves’ dens. He gives voice to those who had no 3
voice, establishing a link between politics and literature with his social commentary.
2.2 Critical Realism
2.2.1 Social Background
Oliver Twist is written by the British novelist Charles Dickens in the Victorian age. Ruled by the Queen Victoria, it was the Britain's most brilliant periods in history. In the mid-19th century Britain became the world's economic superpower. But in this prosperity and wealth is the working class under the cover of poverty and misfortune, in order to make a living, women and children should be hired to dangerous, dirty factories and mine. Increasingly sharp class conflicts finally triggered from 1836 to 1848, which was the famous British charter movement. United working class pushed "People's Charter" and sought for government’s help to protect human rights, improve living and working environment. Movement swept almost all cities. Although the movement waned in 1848, it made some achievements, especially in waking up the working class.
At the end of the 19th century, the British Empire and Victorian values are gradually declined. Although the UK is the largest overseas colonists, the enemy can not win with the economic and military strength, but its leadership has begun to face the challenges of a rising Germany, and U.S. competition hurt the British economic dominance. At the end of the century, Victorian values lost its color; the original modest, decent way of life was replaced by indulgence and extravagance. Victorian literature, as a product of the times, has symbolized as diversity of natural features. It was multileveled and complex, including the romantic and the reality which reflect in people's lives. This era gave birth to a large number of indomitable literary giant.
The critical realistic writers, on the one hand re-initiated realism in the 18th century, on the other hand they took up the criticism of society, safeguarded the people's interests. Although their point of view and style of writing varies, they were all concerned about the majority of people in common life and destiny, hated the inhuman social institutions, and degraded social morals, the prevalence of money worship and large areas of poverty. They worked on a true portrayal of people's lives and the relentless criticism of the social system aroused public awareness and social development. Victorian literature, a true reflection of reality and the spirit of the times, reflected the high level of energy, down to earth spirit, good humor and unconstrained.
Oliver Twist opens with a bitter invective directed at the nineteenth-century English Poor Laws. These laws were a distorted manifestation of the Victorian middle class’s emphasis on the virtues of hard work. 4
Chapter 2 Character Analysis of Oliver Twist
England in the 1830s was rapidly undergoing a transformation from an agricultural, rural economy to an urban, industrial nation. The middle class had achieved an economic influence equal to, if it is not greater than, that of the British aristocracy.
In the 1830s, the middle class clamored for a share of political power with the landed gentry, bringing about a restructuring of the voting system. Parliament passed the Reform Act, which granted the right to vote to previously disenfranchised middle-class citizens. The middle class was eager to gain social legitimacy. This desire gave rise to the Evangelical religious movement and inspired sweeping economic and political change. The sentiment behind the Poor Law of 1834 reflected these beliefs. The law allowed the poor to receive public assistance only if they lived and worked in established workhouses. Beggars risked imprisonment. Debtors were sent to prison, often with their entire families, which virtually ensured that they could not repay their debts. Workhouses were deliberately made to be as miserable as possible in order to deter the poor from relying on public assistance. The philosophy was that the miserable conditions would prevent able-bodied paupers from being lazy and idle bums.
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, lest they breed more paupers. Mothers were separated from children, lest they impart their immoral ways to their children. Brothers were separated from their sisters because the middle-class patrons of workhouses feared the lower class’s “natural” inclination toward incest. 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 them.
Because of the great stigma attached to workhouse relief, many poor people chose to die in the streets rather than seek public aid. The workhouse was supposed to demonstrate the virtue of gainful employment to the poor. In order to receive public assistance, they had to pay in suffering and misery. Victorian values stressed the moral virtue of suffering and privation, and the workhouse residents were made to experience these virtues many times over.
Rather than improving what the middle class saw as the questionable morals of the able-bodied poor, the Poor Laws punished the most defenseless and helpless members of the lower class. The old, the sick, and the very young suffered more than the able-bodied benefited from these laws.
These social backgrounds helped us to know more about the characters in the novel. For examples, the character of Monks, who was a greedy, ruthless, shameless people, and yet was Oliver's brother, had some special meanings. The Monks of this role is reflections to some of the noble sons' unrestrained behavior at that time. Monks was a wise man, he knew how to access to his brother's property securely. However, the role of Oliver was so kind-hearted; his life was very plentiful, full of misery. At last, he got his wonderful life. His sufferings symbolized for the real British world. According to the social backgrounds, the story and main characters are fully realized.
2.2.2 Ideological Background
Dickens used an orphan's personal experience, condemned and criticized the hypocrisy of the law. In addition, the novel written by Charles Dickens also tried to show and expose the crimes to society at that time, in order to achieve the purpose of improving the hearts of mankind. This creation was, in the works describing the thief leader Fagin as the evil forces of social evil life, greed, erosion, and did harm to child. It was truly reflecting the reality, and that was the creation of the first principle should be followed. Traditionally, viewing that realistic writers of this period, critical realism writer described in general and focus typical of bourgeois society and the nature of things, they "showed the typical environment of a typical character." In fact, according to Oliver Twist, it had described the social phenomenon of crime; Dickens is not in strict accordance with the above criteria to reflect the phenomenon of crime in British society.
In Oliver Twist, Dickens has successfully used personalized language to build the characterization, which is an excellent instrument. The word of hooligans, thieves, prostitutes in the book, is appropriate for their status, even with the industry cant. Dickens used the processing, refining, and choosing instead of dirty, dirty word.
In the excellent realistic novel, the story is often developed in the personality of the environment under the action of history that is Gorky called "a character, the typical growth and composition of history." However, any cell Dickens informal sets how much you want to arrange the number of coincidence on coincidence. When Dickens writes, there is always a put themselves in the imagination (Sympathetic imagination), even the most hateful character. The scene of the thief and old Jewish Fagin is on trail, He heard his presentation of crimes, and he pleaded with the eyes to lawyers, wishing to defend for him. Here, Dickens carefully selected a 6
Chapter 2 Character Analysis of Oliver Twist
number of details, not only describes the objective things, and cut into the character's inner world, showing his great imagination.
In his novels, he mercilessly exposes and castigates the darkness and hypocrisy of the capitalist society. In addition, Dickens was a master of language, his description of our surroundings is exquisite, unique，highly exaggerating language to outline distinct personalities, a strong sense of humor to make the reader feel deeply the charm of his language. “His hat was stuck on the top of his head so lightly, that it threatened to fall off every moment—and would have done so, very often, if the wearer had not had a knack of every now and then ,giving his head a sudden twitch, which brought it back to its old place again.”（钱青,《英国19世纪文学史》p.291）This sentence is exquisite without losing humor, really demonstrates the master's style of Dickens's language.
Oliver Twist was famous for exposing the dark sides of people lived out that time. It exposed the hypocritical and cruelty of parish workhouse through depicting the little orphan boy Oliver Twist’s childhood in it. He gave realistic pictures of the horrible existence in workhouse. One of the important characteristics of Oliver Twist was the real and specific description of people who lived in the bottom of society. Their miserable lives, including all the details, gave the readers a real feeling: these were fictions. Also, it was the first time that many small potatoes appeared in English literature. Dickens carried the good traditions of realism novels since 18th century of England and also developed it. He created his unique technique and formed his own style. Dickens’ works axe very important in English literary history. They established the base of critical realism and had effect upon the development of the whole European realism novels.
Dickens had his own rich imagination and clever ideas, described the specific circumstances to be full of passion and fully imbued with a smack of daily life. So readers would get out of breath when he read it, and thought that this far-fetched, unnatural circumstance should be true, there from took great interest in reading on. This is Dickens's art world charm.
In addition, from a political point of view, this work of social status of orphans raised the very real problem, and directly related to the quality of the officials, the community of some illegal organizations in all walks of life, or people's psychological tendency, mental illness. Dickens put forward these problems, but he thought the way to solve these problems is unrealistic. This is also because of his young age without a deep understanding of the society. With his rich social experience, a deeper understanding of the society came into being. And his ideas have gradually matured in his later works which can be demonstrated. Dickens uses his ways to give readers broad and profound meanings, sometimes laughing, sometimes knowing smile, and 7
sometimes painful tears of laughter or laughter numb helplessness. However, no matter what kind of laugh, all of these works have given the endless irony of capitalist society.
"Oliver Twist" is the second novel; Dickens was only a 25-year-old novelist at that time, who had the courage to face life truly to express the tragic life of the London slums. He held a high moral purpose: to protest social injustice, to arouse public opinions, and to start a whole reform, so that the poor who lived in an abyss of misery can be rescued. However, we can not regard the reality of the literature as realistic literature, not to extend realism. As a matter of fact, Dickens used various of creative methods, and differed from one to one, This writer's special temperament and personality are closely related to the creation, Charles Dickens had a rich imagination, full of poetic passion, he intentionally exaggerated his own moral ideals, always break the faithful copying of natural.
Here, Dickens carefully selected a number of details, not only described the objective things, but also cut into the character's inner world, showing his very rich imagination. He used the art methods, not "critical realism" can be summarized. I really appreciated the British writer and expert, who devote himself on study Charles Dickens, George ? Gissing (1857-1903), he had called the writing style of Charles Dickens “romantic realism”.
2.3 Plot Setting
The story begins with the birth of a boy and the death of a mother. Since then, the identity of this orphan who has been given the name Oliver Twist by a parish clerk becomes the biggest suspension of the story. Where does he come from? Where is his father? A list of questions begins to hunt readers’ mind before the very latter part finally exposes the answer. Saliently, Dickens is adept at creating suspension and supplying hint to what will happen next. For example, when the robber Bill Sikes is comered, even his most loyal and faithful friend — the lupine dog does not obey to his master any more and just scours away regardless of Bill’s repeated whistle. This scene foreshadows his doom, his suicide. The plot of this story is mainly about how Oliver Twist survives the aloof and diabolical society and leads a blithe life in the end. The story, a rather simple one, is laden with natural transitions, which make the change of plot more natural and fluent.
Chapter 2 Character Analysis of Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist is Dickens's first novel of social criticism. Oliver was an abandoned baby struggling in the orphanage for 9 years. He was sent to a coffin shop owner as an apprentice. Unbearable hunger, poverty and humiliation, Oliver fled to London, and was forced to be a pickpocket. He was taken in by a man named Mr. Brownlow. Unfortunately, he was imposed to the den of thieves again. A kind female thief Nancy sympathized with Oliver, despite of the head of the thief's surveillance and threats, and informed Mr. Brownlow that Oliver was his grandson whom had found for a long time. Nancy was killed by the thief leader, and then police rounded up the den of thieves. Oliver was finally able to reunite with their family. The characters represent personal qualities.
Even if we might feel that Dickens’s social criticism would have been more effective if he had focused on a more complex poor character, like the Artful Dodger or Nancy, the audience for whom Dickens was writing might not have been receptive to such a portrayal. Dickens’s Victorian middle-class readers were likely to hold opinions on the poor that were only a little less extreme than those expressed by Mr. Bumble, the beadle who treats paupers with great cruelty. In fact, Oliver Twist was criticized for portraying thieves and prostitutes at all. Given the strict morals of Dickens’s audience, it may have seemed necessary for him to make Oliver a saint figure. Because Oliver appealed to Victorian readers’ sentiments, his story may have stood a better chance of effectively challenging their prejudices.
Throughout the novel, Dickens confronts the question of whether the terrible environments he depicts have the power to “blacken the soul and change its hue for ever.” By examining the fates of most of the characters, we can assume that his answer is that they do not. Certainly, characters like Sikes and Fagin seem to have sustained permanent damage to their moral sensibilities. Yet even Sikes has a conscience, which manifests itself in the apparition of Nancy’s eyes that haunts him after he murders her. Charley Bates maintains enough of a sense of decency to try to capture Sikes. Of course, Oliver is above any corruption, though the novel removes him from unhealthy environments relatively early in his life. Most telling of all is Nancy, who, though she considers herself “lost almost beyond redemption,” ends up making the ultimate sacrifice for a child she hardly knows. In contrast, Monks, perhaps the novel’s most inhuman villain, was brought up amid wealth and comfort. I just want to take Oliver Twist, Nancy, and Monks as examples to better illustrate the writer’s purpose.
2.4.1 Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist himself is the most obvious example. The name “Twist,” though given by accident, alludes to the outrageous reversals of fortune that he will experience. Oliver Twist was an orphan born in the workhouse. He suffered from starvation and bully because of unbearable coffin shop proprietress, parish clerk abusing. He escaped to London alone. Unluckily, when he just arrived on the deception, he was deceived into a nest of thieves. The thief gang leaders make every means to do everything to attempt Oliver to his training, for the pickpockets driven. Following his thief partners to the street, Oliver was arrested, because he was mistakenly to have stolen a gentleman's handkerchief, which was named Mr. Brownlow (happens to be a friend of his father's during his lifetime). Later, because of bookstall owner to proved his innocence, and indicated that the thief was someone else, he was released. Because he was seriously ill and turn into coma, and looks exactly like a young woman portrait his friends left before his death. Mr. Brownlow took him in to cure; Oliver obtained meticulous care from Brownlow and his housekeeper Mr. Bumble, he felt the warmth of the world for the first time. The thief gang fear Oliver will disclose their secrets, under the direction of the Fagin, Bill Sikes and Nancy took pains to make Oliver fall into their nest, while Oliver was out to return books for Brownlow to the bookstall owner. But Fagin attempt to punish Oliver severely, Nancy came forward to protect him. Fagin made all means to attempt Oliver to become a thief, with threats, inducements and other force indoctrination. One night, Oliver was forced to burglary in a large house. While Oliver was ready to climb into the window and take opportunity to report to the owner, he was discovered by the housekeeper. So he was shot and wounded. Other thieves escape hastily; they dropped him into the roadside ditch. Injured, Oliver crawled in the rain and snow, unconsciously; he came back to the house, fainting to the door.
The kind owner Mrs. Maylie and her daughter host and shelter him. Coincidentally, she was Oliver's aunt, but neither knew that. In the grand home, Oliver really enjoys the warmth of life and happiness. Although Oliver grew up in poor homes, did not have freedom, and be taken as slave, he was still a strong self-esteem people. Confronting other's personal attacks, He was very excited. Oliver took all the strength to shake with rage in Noah, shivering his teeth rattle, and then gathered all the strength of his punch to Noah severely, until he was knocked to the ground. I was confused, in common sense, he has been a quiet, modest boy, although it was inhuman abuse, the youth are willing to be dejected, but now the power of body beaten Noah with cohesion. What is the strength that he dared to make such a decision, a strong sense of anger to his senses; he does not allow others to insult his mother.
Chapter 2 Character Analysis of Oliver Twist
Although Oliver had no impression on his mother, even without knowing his mother's appearance, the respect of his mother has been always around his mind. So when Noah insulted his mother, Oliver revealed the excitement which never had. Also, for his reason, Oliver was beat cruelly and locked up. Dickens wrote this in details, not only paving the way for the following text, but also depicting profoundly the image of Oliver, as to safeguard the dignity of his mother.
Many scholars believe that the most successful character is Nancy, though this novel regards Oliver as the protagonist. Nancy's role has great practical significance. Nancy is a psychological complex of young women, grew up in the thieves, and no one knows her life. In this novel, when she entered the den of thieves, she did not counter any kind people, ultimately she met Mr. Brownlow and Mr. Maylie, but it was too late. Finally, she died at the hands of robber named Bill Sikes. Her fate is tragic, just like real society after the orphans came into the gangland.
Nancy saw through the rogue group, she hated the kind of treacherous, vicious, heartless cruelty, inhuman things, meanwhile she also had some nice feelings, and reluctant to leave. She has sympathy for Oliver, treated him like her brother. In times of crisis, she would disregard her own safety to rescue him, but he had to push Oliver on the road of being thieves. She envied other cultural, educational woman, but because of her humble status, she did not expect such a happy life. There was a feeling of contradiction in her heart. As Miss Maylie and Mr. Brownlow advised her to leave the thieves group life, she refused their kindness. Her inner conflict was real, which was consistent with normal general psychology. There were many young women offenders, if misguided Nancy may have a similar a contradictory thought, that was they wanted to leave but didn't have encourage. Although Nancy hated Bill Sikes's behavior, she could not do without him. Maybe her conduct was not reasonable; anyway, all she did was true.
A major concern of Oliver Twist is the question of whether a bad environment can irrevocably poison someone’s character and soul. As the novel progresses, the character who best illustrates the contradictory issues brought up by that question is Nancy. As a child of the streets, Nancy has been a thief and drinks to excess. The narrator’s reference to her “free and agreeable . . . manners” indicates that she is a prostitute. She 11
is immersed in the vices condemned by her society, but she also commits perhaps the noblest act in the novel when she sacrifices her own life in order to protect Oliver. Nancy’s moral complexity is unique among the major characters in Oliver Twist. The novel is full of characters that are all good and can barely comprehend evil, such as Oliver, Rose, and Brownlow; and characters that are all evil and can barely comprehend well, such as Fagin, Sikes, and Monks. Only Nancy comprehends and is capable of both good and evil. Her ultimate choice to do good at a high personal cost is a strong argument in favor of the incorruptibility of basic goodness, no matter how many environmental obstacles it may face. Nancy’s love for Sikes exemplifies the moral ambiguity of her character. As she herself points out to Rose, devotion to a man can be “a comfort and a pride” under the right circumstances. But for Nancy, such devotion is “a new means of violence and suffering”—indeed, her relationship with Sikes leads her to criminal acts for his sake and eventually to her own demise. The same behavior, in different circumstances, can have very different consequences and moral significance. In much of Oliver Twist, morality and nobility are black-and-white issues, but Nancy’s character suggests that the boundary between virtue and vice is not always clearly drawn.
Monks is Oliver's half-brother. He is extremely cruel, wanting to get his brother's property and even destroy him. I think Dickens describes the behavior of Monks with a clever arrangement. The Monks of this role is reflections to some of the noble sons' unrestrained behavior at that time. Monks is a wise man, he knows how to access to his brother's property securely.
Monks-the character Dickens image can be consolidated at every step. First, the monks emerged to look for Mr. Bumble. The author did not mention him in previous article, so that I read Mr. Bumble meeting the strange guests to the circumstances, the instinct told me that the plot would reach another climax. Mysterious people showed up, may be have good play, but I did not think this so-called man was Oliver's older brother, and he had play such an important role for the next plot. Dickens gave Monks a "smart" mind, set up a seamless program. Because he was unfilial, his father would give the entire estate to Oliver. Only if both Oliver and Monks were the same unscrupulous children, heritage can be inherited by Monks. Monks took a higher price to Fagin, asking for him to make Oliver into a incorrigible offenders, so that he could occupy the entire estate. What's more, he gave vent to his dead father with venom. To reach this goal, Monks was not hesitant to cooperate with the robber, the chief Jewish old man. There is a saying goes, the end must justify the 12
Chapter 2 Character Analysis of Oliver Twist
means ends. At last, their plan was brought to light, Monks also failed miserably.
The part of Monks, who was a greedy, ruthless, shameless people, and yet was Oliver's brother, had some special meanings. On the one hand, this plot made the story reach to the climax, on the other hand, it was fully demonstrated the reality of society, which wanted to achieve the purpose while ignore the kinship. The writer used a sharp stroke of irony to this society at that time, wanting to wake up those sad people at the same time, waking up their conscience and the consciousness of all people.
Chapter 3 Conclusions
By analyzing these characters in Oliver Twist, the following notable features could be detected:
First, Oliver Twist is Dickens's first novel of social criticism. It reflects the real society at that time. He used the pen to expose the ugly face of the capitalist society. Second, this novel is a symbol of the bottom class those lived in a miserable life. The writer utilized so many people and their sufferings to express his critical realism. The roles in this novel have symbolized different characters; some are good, and some bad. Third, according to Charles Dickens’ writing style and the background of the novel, we could get more information about the Victoria age. Moreover, we would find the more creative depth and critical tendency.
The Charles Dickens’s value is being exposed on the basis of this paper. He wanted to criticize the hypocritical social morality. As Dickens himself said, he used romantic realism “largely to express his own moral concepts rather than pursue perfect truth.” While openly revealing and harshly criticizing hideous features in life, he praised ideal human nature and interpersonal relationships. He hoped to use his pen to express his ideals in that the reality is very cruel.
5. Chang Yaoxin, A Survey of English Literature, Nankai Uniwersity Press, 1990 Catherine Peters, Charles Dickens. Xi'an: Xi'an World Publishing Corporation, 1998. Luo Jing guo, Collected Essays on Dickens.［M］Shanghai: Shanghai Translation Press, 1981. Lu Jian guo, Charles Dickens and Oliver Twist [J]. Journal of Yuxi Normal University,2004（07） Johnson E. D. H. Charles Dickens: An Introduction to His Novels. Random House Study in Language
and Literature Series [M].New York: Random House, 1969.
6. Kaplan, Fred. Dickens: A Biography [M]. New York: Morrow, 1988
7. 陈嘉.《英国文学史》(第三卷) [M]. 北京 : 商务印书馆 .1986
11. 王治国 . 狄更斯评传 [M]. 上海 : 上海文艺出版社 .1991
I would like to thank my supervisor, Miss Gong Wei, who helped me during the writing of this thesis. When I did every step of graduate design, such as looking up information, determining dissertation, revising papers, the mid-and late check-ups, she gave me detailed guidance. In addition to admire Miss Gong's professional standards, the spirit of her meticulous scholarship is what I always hope to learn from, and will have positive impact on my future study and work..
Also I’d like to thank all the teachers during my college life, from whose devoted teaching and enlightening lectures I have benefited a lot and academically prepared for the thesis. Needless to say, all the remaining errors are ascribed to my own negligence.
Finally, I would like to thank my parents for their encouragement and support in my whole student career. They are my always strong backbone ---their understanding and love is the most valuable treasure of my life!