Oliver Twist Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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What narrative techniques does Dickens use in Oliver Twist?

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First, Dickens uses a third-person narrator, one who stands above the action and records for us what is going on. He describes himself as Oliver's biographer, and his voice is so strong—at least when he wants it to be—that he becomes a character in the novel.

Because of his use of a narrator with such a distinctive voice, Dickens can employ a second narrative technique: irony. The narrator is not neutral—he is angry and bitter at what has happened to his subject for being born poor, and he does not hold back on criticizing a society that treats infants and young children as criminals for the misfortune of having no money. For example, he says this about the supposedly humane treatment his society doles out to workhouse children when it is clear Oliver is going to survive his indifferent birth:

What an excellent example of the power of dress, young Oliver Twist was! Wrapped in the blanket which had hitherto formed his only covering, he might have been the child of a nobleman or a...

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