What crime and social issues still persist today that were present in the world of Oliver Twist? Have they become better or worse? Give examples.

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many forms of crime seem to be common to both cultures. Since you have read Oliver Twist for your class, I'll give examples of the modern ones which may serve as parallels to the ones you have already encountered in the novel.

First, child poverty, unfortunately, is still common. In fact, the problem of orphans has been aggravated by the decline of the extended family. It is also true that children who grow up as orphans or neglected children from broken homes may end up turning to begging or crime to support themselves. Much of the modern gang culture can be considered similar to the bands of young criminals in Oliver Twist, mutatis mutandis.

Alcoholism, especially addiction to gin which was cheap and plentiful, was a major problem in the slums of Victorian cities, as drug and alcoholism is still a problem in cities across the contemporary world.

Tuberculosis, cholera, and other epidemic diseases decimated the slums of Victorian England at regular intervals, often leaving behind orphans. The modern equivalent is HIV, though tuberculosis persists in many areas of the world (especially Russia).

Sensationalization of crime in the popular press (and novels such as that by Dickens) has remained common. One issue is whether the dramatic portrayals of crime (whether in novels, TV or video games) increases either criminal activity or indifference to violent crime (were the public hangings of the 19th century so far from contemporary Texas?)

The book Black Swine in the Sewers of Hampstead is a good treatment of 19th century sensational journalism.

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Oliver Twist

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