Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Just like ‘Great Expectations’, in this tale, Dickens links his characters to an obscure past which gradually evolves as he sheds light on it until we are left totally surprised by the outcome. As much as I have enjoyed ‘Great Expectations’, I feel that the tale of young ‘Oliver Twist’ is even more enjoyable, and the events towards the finish had me turning each page to unravel more of the mystery. I remember watching the film version as a young boy, and what stuck in my mind then more than anything else was when Oliver, spindly legs and gaunt face, walks up to the orphanage caretaker and, starving, asks for a second helping of gruel.

Without giving any of the plot away, this tale centres on a young boy who is orphaned at birth. Dickens travels the reader around the outer districts of London and then finally has his protagonist venturing to the city. The names of different locations in London, including famous bridges, pubs, houses and parks adds to the reader’s enjoyment as we follow this adventure.

Dickens uses engrossing characters: there is the usual mix of wholesome gentlemen and ladies, and shifty thieves and vagabonds, souls that try to rise out of the slumps with life dealing them the ultimate tragic blow. We get a real feel of poverty and hunger, are given a good account of how young people were used for menial work with very little recompense and how they were dealt with as second hand citizens with few or no rights at all. Dickens loved his city of London and it shows in his writing. He is a romantic, in my view, for especially in this novel, he ties up all loose ends and has the protagonist winning the day.

I think the most endearing quality Dickens has is the richness of his characters, his magnificent ability of making us feel as if we are walking the London streets, and he does this effortlessly with very little description, as if magically—he is a master of creating mood. And he also weaves a rich plot which quickens the pulse and heightens the reader’s interest. Charles Dickens is without a doubt a master story teller who will remain a pleasure to read for the present and future generations.

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