Етикет: critical analysis

A critical analysis of the representations of childhood in Dickens’s novels Oliver Twist and Great Expectations

The Victorian era in English history is marked by critical shifts in the economic, social and cultural outlook, reflected in the literature of the period, of which Dickens is a major representative. His works depict a time of turbulent change and critical re-evaluation of the old ways, norms and values (Mitchell, 2009). Among them the notion of childhood appears to stand out as one of utmost importance for the author (Schuster, 2014). The parallel analysis of two of his most popular characters presented in the following essay illustrates some interesting developments in the concept of childhood. The fates of Oliver and Pip are quite dissimilar and Dickens employs a distinctly different approach in describing them – Oliver is represented as a generalised angelic image of children living in trying times and dehumanised society, while Pip is a more realistic description of the divided individual as torn between the old ways and the new, between innocence and hard-gained experience, between hopes and disillusionment in the course towards adulthood (Wood, 2012). Both characters testify to Dickens’ belief in the pervasive influence of childhood as a formative force in the overall growth of the individual.

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