How can social justice be considered a major theme in the book Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens?

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Oliver Twis t can be said to be a novel about social justice, because its main character is not a wealthy or middle-class person in comfortable circumstances, but a destitute young boy who is put into an orphanage. We see life in London through the eyes of this poor child:...

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Oliver Twist can be said to be a novel about social justice, because its main character is not a wealthy or middle-class person in comfortable circumstances, but a destitute young boy who is put into an orphanage. We see life in London through the eyes of this poor child: this is called the "view from below." It is often a perspective used in novels that hope to promote social justice.

What Dickens attacks, among other things, is the way a perfectly normal child is made despised—"othered"—by having to wear the hideous clothes of the workhouse, which set him apart from other people as almost a sub-human. Dickens's point is that the idea of the poor as inferior is not innate but something society socializes the middle classes to believe and grinds into the poor through humiliation until they internalize it.

After Oliver is cast from the orphanage for asking for enough to eat, Dickens goes on to critique the lack of opportunities facing such a child. Oliver almost has no choice but to enter a life of crime, whether he likes it or not, because that is the only way he can hope to survive. Fagin at least takes care of him, if in a minimal and exploitative way.

Dickens wanted the novel to shine a light on the plight of the many poor children living on the streets in London, who were often trapped in hopeless or criminal situations not because they were evil, but because society would not properly care for them.

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Social justice is a concept that has to do with equality and fairness in society. This could include ideas such as the fact that all members of society deserve to be treated fairly under the law, have access to making a living, access to adequate housing, clean water, food, health care, etc. In Victorian England, the setting of Oliver Twist and of all of Dickens' novels, there was a great deal of inequality in society, mainly because of the division of wealth and labor. Dickens sought to illustrate the problems with this system in his stories, and his novel Oliver Twist is a particularly strong example because it depicts one of the worst expressions of inequality in that culture: the treatment of orphaned children.

Dickens was able to raise awareness about the plight of orphans in the workhouses, and the general living conditions of the poor. He did this by depicting the lives of the poor via well-drawn characters like Oliver Twist himself, a spirited boy who responds to his cruel treatment with hope, kindness and determination. The fact that Oliver does not allow the cruelty and abuse he suffers to turn him into a bad person or lead him to a life of crime portrays a message that the poor are not lacking in compassion or decency, despite being demonized by the upper classes. Dickens portrays the living conditions of London's poor in ways that make it understandable why some of them are forced to engage in criminal behavior (theft or prostitution) in order to survive. By bringing attention to these living conditions through his very popular novels, Dickens hoped to encourage better conditions and social justice for the poor.

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