“Oliver Twist and Christian Scripture” Janet Larson Presentation by: Jefferson Derr Leanna Goss Ryan Decker
Overview Oliver Twist is not a religious novel –Yet there are Christian undertones Parallel to John Bunyan –Pilgrim’s Progress –Book’s subtitle and Chapter 8 title Good Samaritan Parable –Spiritual impact—“truth within a fable” Other Biblical references
Similarities to Bunyan Title Title of Bunyan, subtitle of Dickens Reference Reference to “King’s” and “king’s” highway Good Good vs. Evil—warring over souls Pilgrim’s Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the books that Dickens modeled after (melodrama) “Principle “Principle of Good surviving though every adverse circumstance and triumphing at the last.”
Differences to Bunyan Christian quotes scripture to correct his foes. Oliver never quotes direct scripture. Oliver is not an orthodox Christian –Oliver is already preordained to be good Oliver is a passive observer—waiting for God’s providence to win out. Oliver fights for physical survival
Differences to Bunyan Cont’d OOOOliver needs his “good” to survive. Christian seeks truth. OOOOliver fights strictly external forces—never truly tempted.
The Good Samaritan Dickens compelled to “recast” the story –Uses Jesus’ example to show readers how to act upon faith –Christianity should be practiced towards urban poor—treat poor right Bumble’s elegant button –Parochial seal of Good Samaritan healing sick and bruised man—ironic Various “Samaritans” teach Oliver to pray
Other Scripture References Beadle calls Oliver a “millstone…around the parochial throat” –Jesus said if someone offends a little one, it would be better for him if a millstone were hanged around his neck and he were drowned at sea. –Oliver was almost sent to sea by the board Chapter 5 title “Oliver Forms an Unfavorable Notion of His Master’s Business”
Other Scripture References Noah Claypoole –Can trace genealogy to parents (Noah and the Flood) –Everyone hates the outcast boy (Noah before the flood) Nancy’s references: “God Almighty help me.” “God forgive me!” –Nancy’s case is too complex to apply simple Good Samaritan concept
Other Scripture References Dickens questions God’s providence Jesus parables show “what might be” –Dickens leaves us with “what is” Larson feels that no God of mercy or judgment presides (other than unidentified providence of justice). Social forces that have shaped the characters drive characters to death (good and bad).
Conclusion Dickens’ “dark parable” explodes religious categories–no received formula can make sense of such “anarchic ‘desolation’” found in Oliver Twist
Bibliography LLLLarson, Janet. “Oliver Twist and Christian Scripture.” Oliver Twist.By Charles Dickens. Ed. Fred Kaplan. 1st ed. Norton Critical Edition New York: Norton, 1993. 537-552.