Oliver Twist and Christian Scripture By: Tara, Chris, Tyler, and Keith
Janet Larson attempts to prove: The time in which Dickens wrote had a direct correlation with the references and allusions to Christianity! These correlations and relations can be found, portrayed both overtly and covertly.
Presences in the Novel include: “The church” Christian Works Biblical Passages Christian ideologies
Oliver Twist Does not only explode with religious categories, but also demonstrates a parable of its own kind!
Christianity Overtly Portrayed Mr. Bumble Oliver himself The Church itself
Mr. Bumble, even though he is an employee of the church, he abuses his power Dickens uses this character to show what true Christianity is not.
Oliver prays, which shows that Dickens meant to portray a Christian character through Oliver.
Christianity Covertly Portrayed Dickens’ allusion to Christian works: Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress A Morality Play
Pilgrim’s Progress Bunyan writes in parables like “his master” did. Dickens announces from the beginning a similar intention with the title Oliver Twist, A Parish boy’s Progress
Dickens also makes a reference from Bunyan’s work with the line: Oliver was nearly “dead upon the king’s highway” “…such robberies are done on the King’s highway.” was the original line from Bunyan.
Dickens invites us to read his story a little deeper in order to compare: The struggles of good and evil in Pilgrim’s Progress and Oliver Twist. Such as -
Christian’s Burdens to Oliver’s illegitimacy and poverty Hell to Urban crime and poverty Heaven to Physical survival and family identity
Both Heroes go through “Sloughs of Despair” “Valleys of the Shadow of Death” “ Valleys of Humiliation and in the end Oliver like Christians is saved!
A Morality Play Oliver Twist is categorized in English morality plays and homiletic tales. Although Dickens does not name his characters by their traits, such as “Doubt” in Everyman – still each of Dickens’ characters are given qualities which are then judged.
Christianity Covertly Portrayed Dickens’ references to Biblical Passages Concept of a Millstone (Matt. 18:6) The Good Samaritan
Oliver is like the man being beaten up Fagin, Nancy, and Sikes are the people who stood by and watched Mr. Brownlow is the Samaritan who saves the beaten man’s (Oliver) life
Oliver is beaten by his Poverty Social status/Family
The People who stood by Fagin takes Oliver in, but does not solve the problems Oliver has! Nancy leads him back to Sikes, which shows here unwillingness to help Oliver until its too late, after which her own life is taken! Sikes even leaves Oliver in the ditch to Die, just as the parable.
The Samaritan The Samaritan in Oliver’s story is Mr. Brownlow. He saves Oliver from poverty and gives him a family. This shows that the poverty resembles hell while Mr. Brownlow heaven!
In Conclusion Be it through References to passages of Scripture Allusions to works such as Pilgrim’s Progress Or simply the presence of prayer in the novel -
Dickens makes it evident that: He is – at the least – writing in a time full of “substantial pressure of the Christian sentiments and language which were the received culture of Dickens’ time.”
If Dickens was not trying to make a parabolic point as Larson attempts to prove - Then at least we can see the Biblical references and concepts.
Questions? What are the four presences Larson proposes Dickens has in his novel? The church, Biblical Passages, Christian works, and Christian Ideology
Questions? Who is the “Samaritan” in Oliver’s life? Mr. Brownlow
Questions? “Dead on the king’s highway” shows Dickens’ use of which book? Pilgrim’s Progress