What topic should I use for an essay on Oliver Twist?

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An essay on Oliver Twist could focus on the theme of social justice in Victorian England.

When writing an essay on Oliver Twist, there are many places to start. You can write about a theme, trace a character’s development, or describe the reasons for the book’s popularity today. You could also write about how the author’s life impacted the book.

The theme of social justice in Victorian England is a good topic because Dickens felt strongly about the conditions of the poor. Social justice is the idea that everyone deserves a chance, and no one should be oppressed. Dickens believed that the Poor Law was oppressive. The Poor Law created the workhouses that are so badly depicted in Oliver Twist. When young Oliver is born in the workhouse, he barely survives.

Although I am not disposed to maintain that the being born in a workhouse, is in itself the most fortunate and enviable circumstance that can possibly befall a human being, I do mean to say that in this particular instance, it was the best thing for Oliver Twist that could by possibility have occurred. (ch 1)

Although the book is entertainment, Dickens had a dual purpose in writing it. He wanted people to sympathize with young Oliver, and feel badly about the system. Dickens understood that the poor were suffering, and poor children were either dying or becoming criminals. So he wrote a story about a boy who almost became a criminal, and certainly came into contact with many others who did. Dickens depicts robbers and prostitutes, and takes pains to establish that they are in their situation because the system has failed them.