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The Dickens Project - Archives > Oliver Twist - Week Seven: Book 2, Chapters vi-ix

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message 1: by Loretta (new)

Loretta (lorettalucia) Please discuss below!


message 2: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments I feel so badly - I love this Dickens project, but we had a bad storm about three weeks ago, lost power for days (6 days, 22 hours, and 30 minutes to be precise), and I've caught up with work now.

So hopefully, I will be back in the discussion by this weekend. Thought I would be back a week ago, but this time, I definitely think that I will be able to catch up.

I don't want people to think that I've abandoned the book.


message 3: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
I'm in the same boat. I need to play catch up. We were out for 6 days too. You must be in New England. My poor hubby. It's his first New England winter. What a welcome!


message 4: by Lynnm (last edited Nov 17, 2011 06:00PM) (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments Deborah wrote: "I'm in the same boat. I need to play catch up. We were out for 6 days too. You must be in New England. My poor hubby. It's his first New England winter. What a welcome!"

I'm in Connecticut. And your poor husband. This might be his first - and last - New England winter. ;)


message 5: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments I am nearly there:-) I do my catch-up reading on Fridays and Saturdays, and then I will be ready to post and discuss.


message 6: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Zulfiya wrote: "I am nearly there:-) I do my catch-up reading on Fridays and Saturdays, and then I will be ready to post and discuss."

I'm jealous. I'm having house guests starting on Tuesday and just got back from being gone. I'm feeling like the To Do list is longer than can be done.


message 7: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments This is "off topic" from Oliver, but it is Dickens related. I've been watching the 1985 BBC Pickwick Papers series. At first, it didn't do much for me, but once Sam was in the story, I just love it. The actor who plays Sam is perfect, and now I like the other cast members as well. Sam Weller...one of the best literary characters of all time. :-)


message 8: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments I am done with this week portion. And it takes all sorts of people to make the Dickens world. Here is poor and struggling Oliver, trapped in his misfortunes, here are kind and merciful ladies and an ingenious doctor with his heart in the right place, and here are some clumsy, preposterous, and inept butlers and policemen. Pick and choose. What a cornucopia of characters. Well done, Maestro Dickens.


message 9: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2205 comments Mod
The country bumpkins reminded me of the Rustics in Midsummer Night's Dream. While Pickwick is a comedy with melodramatic interludes, Oliver Twist is a melodrama with comic interludes. (Speaking of Pickwick, I absolutely agree with Lynnm about Sam Weller in that BBC production, I was totally in love with him in a way I wasn't when I read the book.)
Oliver still seems very absent or thin as a character. Most of his conversation and feelings are reported in summary or 3rd person and he takes on the coloring of his surroundings. Dickens goes into great praise of the rural environment, equating its beauties with a sort of moral goodness, as opposed to the ugliness, crowding and dirt of London associated with Fagin and his ilk.


message 10: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Robin wrote: "The country bumpkins reminded me of the Rustics in Midsummer Night's Dream. While Pickwick is a comedy with melodramatic interludes, Oliver Twist is a melodrama with comic interludes. (Speaking of ..."

I can't agree more - Oliver is a little 'infuriating' pacifist. But it might be explained by the mores of his time - children were not decision-makers, even orphans.


message 11: by MadgeUK (last edited Nov 23, 2011 07:22AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Thin? Pacifist? Perhaps you mean subservient? A child placed as an orphan into a workhouse had to be subservient to survive. When he asks for more gruel, we see what happens if a child speaks up. This applies to several of Dickens' children. He has painted them like this to illustrate the problems behind the Victorian idea of children being 'seen and not heard', especially poor ones without parents. Dickens was a great champion of children and as a 12 year old employee in a boot blacking factory, son of a debtor, he personally experienced such humiliation first hand. He also visited and subscribed to the first Foundling Homes, like Dr Barnardos. Victorians believed that God ordered thees things to be so:-

'The rich man in his castle
The poor man at his gate
He made them high or lowly
And ordered their estate.'

Dickens praise of the rural environment was part of Victorian feelings and philosophy about the Sublime.

http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibi...


message 12: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2205 comments Mod
Thanks for your input, Madge! We have missed you. And I admit Oliver isn't always passive, he fought back against Noah and he ran away to London. What I'm thinking of is how little his point of view is shown in this part of the story. He is talked about a lot by the narrator and by others, but has very few actual "lines" to speak in this part of the story. Many of the other characters have distinctive ways of speaking, but he doesn't.
Can you tell us about Victorian views of children? my sense is that they either saw children as little adults or something like wild animals to be domesticated by force.


message 13: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Thanks Robin:). There was a big class divide between children of the working class and the middle/upper class. The former were treated like work-horses and lived very difficult lives, the latter were pampered and treated like little angels. We saw this divide in Jane Eyre, where Jane, the orphan dependent upon her Aunt's charity, was ill-treated but her cousins were very spoilt. Popular art and literature idolised children and showed them as rosy cheeked little darlings, which was a sentimalised view no doubt caused by the high child mortality rate.

http://www.victorianweb.org/genre/chi...

http://college.saintebarbe.pagesperso...

I think Oliver is shown as an 'empty' character because, as a foundling, he is devoid of an identity. His life throughout the book is dependent upon others and his innocence is exploited by them. In a way, his life only begins when the book ends.


message 14: by Loretta (new)

Loretta (lorettalucia) Zulfiya wrote: "I am done with this week portion. And it takes all sorts of people to make the Dickens world. Here is poor and struggling Oliver, trapped in his misfortunes, here are kind and merciful ladies and a..."

Well said.


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