Monday, June 18, 2012

The Orphans of Dickens

     Oliver twist was born in a work house. When he became too old for the work house he was sent to a cruel orphanage that praised itself for underfeeding the orphans and not sparing the rod.

     In Bleak House Esther is raised by her aunt who often tells her that she was her mother's shame and it would have been better if she had never been born. Poor Jo, another orphan mentioned in Bleak House really got the short end of the stick as far as orphans go.

     In Great Expectations young Pip is brought up by his sister who abused him both physically and verbally. Quick to throw items at the target of her anger and to complain nonstop as to how hard she must work to raise Pip, though she never seemed to give any particular attention to his upbringing other than haraguing him verbally, or boxing his ears.

     Dickens himself doesn't seem entirely kind to orphans giving them such horrible situations to live in. He will redeem himself of these cruelties before the story is over by giving the orphans a rich benefactor who will supply the children with a much happier existance. If an orphan had a happy childhood to what could we expect the story to aspire to? It is the initial conflict that leads the story along. It is their lowly treatment that makes us sympathize with the children and hope for a happy ending. Some might argue that without misery one could never appreciate happiness. Even readers feel a sense of joy when the life of a wretched orphan is unexpectedly brightened.

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