What is the major theme of Dickens' novel Oliver Twist and is it a novel or a novella?

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Kelvin Brakus eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As the other educators have made clear, Oliver Twist is a novel and poverty is one of its major themes. Specifically, Dickens deals with the terrible effects of poverty on an individual's life and nowhere is this more apparent than in Chapter Two when Oliver famously asks for more supper. Described as "desperate with hunger" and "reckless with misery," Oliver endures the type of poverty and deprivation which inspired Dickens to write the novel in the first place and to which he hoped to draw the public's attention.

Moreover, this theme is also explored in the reaction of the workhouse staff to Oliver's request for more supper. The master hits Oliver with the ladle, for instance, and the beadle is stupefied that Olive would ask for more after eating his "allotted" portion. By portraying the workhouse officials in this way, Dickens employs satire to great effect. He shows us that his contemporaries treated the poor in a way which dehumanised and deprived them instead of actually helping them to improve their lives.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Charles Dickens full-length novel Oliver Twist the major theme is the classic theme of Good versus Evil. Dickens said that he created Oliver to represent the principle of good surviving through manifold adversity and "triumphing at last." The novel has characters who are completely bad like Fagin and Bill Sikes. It also has characters who are completely good like Oliver and Rosa. It also has characters who may have good characteristics but are in bad circumstances that precipitate bad behavior like Nancy and Artful Dodger.

There are also characters who represent society's ideal of goodness because of their trustworthy or high position who are in fact corrupt like Mrs. Mann, Mr. Bumble, and Monks' mother. Through these representations of good and evil and shades thereof, Dickens explores good triumphing over evil.

A novella is a work of fiction that is in between the lengths of a...

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