Essay on Oliver Twist
By Dr Ruth Richardson
UPDATED:11:49 GMT, 25 March 2011
Please sir: Oliver Twist brought home the harsh realities of life in the workhouse
The young woman at the workhouse gate was desperate. Clutching her belly, she begged to be allowed inside. She had nowhere else to go.
The workhouse — for all the stories of cruelty that went on within its walls — was her only hope. She desperately needed shelter, for she was about to give birth. But the gatekeeper was inexorable: he had his orders.
Babies were expensive. They required feeding, clothing and supervising and it would be at least six years before they could earn their keep, …show more content…
He would have seen girls and boys of only six years old — just a year older than him — bundled into carts and transported like cattle, often hundreds of miles away, to work in the factories and mills of Britain’s industrial heartlands, where they would be beaten as they laboured 16 hours a day in exchange for a few spoonfuls of gruel.
Dickens found his time, aged 11, at a factory degrading
He would have heard the clanging of the workhouse bell, the piercing cries of insane patients confined behind its high walls, the thud of carpet-beating in the workhouse yard and the sound of inmates’ hammers as they smashed granite blocks into small chunks for road-mending.
And he would have shuddered as he saw the thin pauper-coffins arrive to bury the dead in the graveyard behind the poorhouse.
He never forgot the sight, sounds and smells of that workhouse. And when he grew up he drew on those memories to reveal to