Dickens's Dichotomous Formula for Social Reform In Oliver Twist

Taher Badinjki


Oliver Twist was a direct appeal to society to take action against poverty, exploitation of children, oppression of women, and was meant to be a picture of the "dregs of life” in all their deformity and wretchedness. Among the most miserable inhabitants of the world of Oliver Twist, Nancy appears as a key figure.  Dickens was anxious to expose the truth about such a woman because he believed it would be a service to society. Dickens's portrayal of Nancy illustrates the power of the dual conception of womanhood  held at the time. On the one hand, a woman might be conceived as someone refined and somewhat remote from ordinary life like Rose Maylie. On the other hand, there was a certain fascination in a woman's degradation, even though that could be shown only indirectly.  Nancy is a demonstration of the two elements combined together. Dickens took the ideal nature of womanhood  and the depravity of the prostitute, and combined them in a remarkable dramatization which he had some right to claim was also true to life. The book is an astounding rebuttal of contemporary prejudice, and a call for more humane and liberal attitudes. These attitudes  are based on the concepts that there is now a radically different way of looking at human nature, that everything ought to depend on what one is in oneself, and that it is only in love that humans can live purposefully and happily with each other.



Radical, moral conventions, social, womanhood, reform, depravity, victim

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.5n.7p.209


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