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Charles Dickens used his pen not only to entertain but also to shine a light on the ills in Victorian society.
Nineteenth century England was a time of contradictions. It was a time of extreme wealth and extreme poverty. The Industrial Revolution had changed England from an agrarian society to and industrial one. Labor was needed for this, the cheaper, the better. The cheapest laborers were children and they were expendable. Children were forced to work long hours under brutal conditions. Due to extreme poverty, children were often sold when there was not enough money to feed the many hungry mouths.
Orphanages were warehouses for unlucky children and fair game for those who exploited children.
Men like Bill Sikes and Fagen lurked along the wharfs south of the river to prey on the unsuspecting.
Children like the Artful Dodger did what they had to do to survive on the streets of London.
Children like Oliver were exploited by those in positions of power.
In writing Oliver Twist, Dickens sought to expose the seamier sides of life in Victorian London. He hoped to change the conditions that caused children to be exploited.
Eventually laws were enacted to protect children thanks to writers like Charles Dickens.
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