Workhouse system

'Oliver Twist' begins with a focus on poverty and no hope. Very little happens to advance they story because of Dickens's diatribe and satire is showing the reader his views. Oliver is born and has little hope of surviving, Dickens refers to him as a 'item of mortality' suggesting that the child has such a small chance of even living and then writing 'it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether the child would survive to bear any name at all' proving his minute chances of existing and showing the impersonality of the workhouse system.

He also adds humour to Oliver's difficulty in starting to breathe with irony 'The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration – a troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered it necessary to our easy existence'. After his first few signs of living he his referred to as a 'burden' being imposed. His mother's last wish is to 'Let me see the child, and die. ' Dickens is Showing the reader how bad births of babies must be, one thing normally dies whether it's the baby or the mother.

The nurse there is drinking from a green bottle which is probably gin, the doctor and the nurse don't really care, the doctor and the nurse just want to take their pay and go home. The nurse later says '… when she has lived as long as I have, sir, and had thirteen children of her own, and all on 'em dead except two… ' Dickens is showing us the terrible birth rates they had in the 19th century. Oliver's mother dies, 'they talked of hope and comfort. They had been strangers too long.

' This shows just how bad her chances were and also how bad life is in the workhouses. They refer to Oliver as 'it' which shows how impersonally they treat people at the workhouses, even at a young age. The doctor and the nurse start to make assumptions about how Oliver came to be 'no wedding ring I see. ' Making them think she is a prostitute. The doctor walks off but the nurse stays with Oliver, carelessly drinking her gin in the firelight while dressing him. As Dickens himself wrote

'but now he was enveloped in the old calico robes, which had grown yellow in the same service, he was bagged and ticketed, and fell into his place at once – a parish child – the orphan of the workhouse – the humble half starved drudge – to be cuffed and buffeted through the world, – despised by all, pitied by none. ' Here Dickens is trying to show how bad people in poverty are treated. Dickens tells us how the workhouses starved children of food. He was being treated like a piece of luggage, being pushed around the system.

No one cares for him, all hate him. Chapter one ends with Oliver sitting, crying lustily. 'If he could have known that he was an orphan, left to the tender mercies of churchwardens and overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder'. For Dickens, chapter two is mostly about harsh diatribe against the system his first sentence even attacks the system 'for the next eight or ten months, Oliver was the victim of a systematic course of treachery and deception – he was brought up by hand.

' The rest of the first paragraph focuses only on diatribe against the system, writing about the lack of food and clothes each child gets by using irony '… without the inconvenience of to much food or too much clothing' He also writes about the greed of the people looking after the children '… and she had a very accurate perception of what was good for herself. ' Conditions were bad for Oliver. Many accidents happen around Mrs Mann's house. A few scalding here and there, some causing death but who cares?

They are only orphans. '… speedily checked by the evidence of the surgeon, and the testimony of the beadle; the former of whom had always opened the body and found nothing inside (which was very probable indeed), and the latter of whom invariably swore whatever the parish wanted, which was very self devotional. ' The poor orphans didn't matter to them, as long as they get paid, a child dies here or there but Dickens writes about how they don't care and the selfishness of them.

Dickens's diatribe continues like this for most of the chapter and only near the end is there an advance in the story. On Oliver's ninth birthday Mr Bumble came over to the parish to take him away to pick oakum. Mrs Mann orders Susan to take Oliver upstairs and wash him to make it look like that he has been treated well even though he must have suffered through some bad times to live to how he is now.

Mrs Mann tries to make Mr Bumble drunk so that he can go on his merry way with Oliver and so that she can go back to abusing and mistreating the orphans. When Mrs Mann is questioned by Mr Bumble about having gin in the house she replies 'why, it's what im obliged to keep a little of in the house, to put into the blessed infants' daffy, when they ain't well, Mr Bumble,' She is trying to make Mr Bumble think she is a kid hearted old lady but really that gin is for her to guzzle down.

Mr Bumble later goes on to the business of Oliver. He says that they couldn't trace his family so he uses his naming system of which Mr Bumble invented. He takes great pride in his simplistic naming system of poor orphan boys. This shows the impersonality of the people in the system, and the fact he takes great pride in something so simplistic and impersonal shows to me that Dickens is satirising Mr Bumbles job in the workhouse system.

After this conversation Mrs Mann fetches Oliver and we get a glimpse of how bad things must have been for Oliver 'and Oliver, having had by this time as much of the outer coat of dirt which encrusted his face and hands removed, as could be scrubbed off in one washing, was led into the room by his benevolent protectress' to have the dirt encrusted into his skin he must have had to live in ghastly conditions without a proper wash for years. Oliver is then asked by Mr Bumble to be taken away from this dreadful place that he has lived in for about nine years. He was going to look excited and joyful to go but

'He caught sight of Mrs Mann, who had got behind the beadles chair, and was shaking her fist at him with furious countenance. He took the hint at once, for the fist had been impressed upon his body not to be deeply impressed upon his recollection. ' This tells us that Oliver has been abused by the people who were supposed to be looking after him. Also it shows that she will be fast to do it again if Oliver messes things up. Oliver plays along and Mr Bumble starts to take him away. Mrs Mann tries to seem nice to Oliver by giving him some bread and butter after getting hugs from Mrs Mann.

After this, Dickens tries to make u sympathise for Oliver and real parish boys when then leave the parish. He writes Oliver's feelings for the place 'Wretched as were the little companions in misery he was leaving behind, they were the only friends he had ever known; and a sense of his loneliness in the great wide world sank into the child's heart for the first time. ' This should make the reader feel for Oliver's situation and probably would have made the 19th century reader feel for Oliver and other parish boys in the real world.

Oliver is then taken to the board where he is standing alone and confused, not knowing what's going on or what's going to happen. Dickens is trying to gain the readers sympathy through Oliver's confusion, remember he is here and has experienced terrible things just because of poverty. He next meets the board. The gentlemen are prejudice against the poor and automatically think of Oliver as a stupid and lazy individual, a 'fool'. A man only known as 'the gentleman in the white waistcoat' is used by dickens to show the impersonality of the system by not even mentioning his name.

The men of the board do not understand much about Oliver's life, they cannot empathise with Oliver's situation 'what are you crying for? ' the gentlemen are telling him in a harsh way that he has no mother and father, no one to love him and care for him. The gentlemen keep insulting Oliver because of their prejudice against the poor. 'I hope you say your prayers every night,' said another gentleman' the gentlemen here are not good Christians so they shouldn't be asking whether Oliver is a good Christian in such a offensive way.

The gentlemen later go on to talk about what work he will be doing. They say that all the paupers and people plunged into poverty like picking oakum. They say its 'public entertainment for the poorer classes' yes, entertainment that makes their fingers go red raw and swollen. They say that the poorer people who are unlucky enough to end up in a workhouse enjoy it because they enjoy it, of course they do those profits they get from the oakum pays their salaries. Here Dickens shows us how uncaring the people involved with the system are.

He shows us how impersonal the people are and would make the 19th century reader think about how they treat children in poverty and make them think about how much they are helping them live. Oliver is then taken away to the parish. He gets very little food and eats everything he is given 'The bowls never wanted washing. The boys polished them with their spoons till they shone again' here Dickens is telling the reader how bad conditions were for the poor children.

'The master aimed a blow at Oliver's head with the ladle, pinioned him in his arms, and shrieked for the beadle' they give the boys enough food to live on, why should they let one have the cheek to ask for more? Dickens is attacking the system here about its lack of food for the poor; it wouldn't even cost much to supply an extra bowl of gruel to each child. Never the less Oliver was put into confinement and five pounds was offered for and man or women that would take him off the parish's hands. Dickens is showing us how badly children in poverty were treated in the 19th century.

This would make the reader think about how they treat children stuck in poverty. In the novel 'Oliver Twist' Dickens uses violent diatribe throughout the first two chapters to show his views on the workhouse system and the 'New Poor Law of 1834'. He does this by using characters as his mouthpiece against the workhouse system and the 'New Poor Law of 1834'. During the first two chapters Dickens does little to advance the story. Dickens's diatribe would make the 19th century reader think about what he is doing to help the poor people enveloped in poverty.

Also anyone who was in a position of power could have had his opinions about the poor changed and because he would have been in a position of power he could have his opinions heard. Dickens also shows us that the system fails mainly because of the Selfishness, greed and the evil in the people who affected what happened in the system. Dickens also shows us that if they got rid of those people's selfish and evil traits then fewer people would have had to suffer and the people in poverty could climb out of the poverty hole and stand on their own two feet.