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Why does the novel Oliver Twist continue to interest the reader despite the fact that...

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jiasaadi | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:34 PM via web

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Why does the novel Oliver Twist continue to interest the reader despite the fact that the character of the protagonist is unrealistic?

Oliver is unbelieveably good, despite his upbringing. The author fails in making the reader feel an interest or believe in Oliver's character. Yet as a novel Oliver Twist is not a failure. What is it that maintains the readers interest in the novel after the protagonist fails to do so?

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 28, 2012 at 3:20 AM (Answer #1)

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This is a challenging question. You make some assertions I don't entirely agree with. I don't think Oliver is unbelievably good but unbelievably genteel for a boy with such an unfortunate upbringing. I don't agree that Dickens fails to interest the reader in Oliver's problems, and there are even some aspects of the boy's character that should interest the reader. Oliver has courage. He stands up to the Beadle. He runs away from the orphanage. Oliver's story is just a sort of string by which Dickens draws the reader through a depiction of conditions in orphanages, work houses, and London slums. Oliver is not real, but the pictures Dickens paints are real. Perhaps Oliver Twist should be read at an early age, before the reader become too critical. It is not Dickens' best novel. Many people would agree with you that Oliver is too good to be true and that the novel is too melodramatic and might not want to read it again after then have gotten older. An excellent question!

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