Great Expectations vs Oliver




GREAT EXPECTATIONS vs. OLIVER TWIST



 



 



During his lifetime, Charles Dickens is known to have written several



books. Although each book is different, they also share many similarities.



Two of his books, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist, are representatives



of the many kinds of differences and similarities found within his work.



 



Perhaps the reason why these two novels share some of the same



qualities is because they both reflect painful experiences which occurred



in Dickens\' past. During his childhood, Charles Dickens suffered much abuse



from his parents.1 This abuse is often expressed in his novels. Pip, in



Great Expectations, talked often about the abuse he received at the hands



of his sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery. On one occasion he remarked, "I soon found



myself getting heavily bumped from behind in the nape of the neck and the



small of the back, and having my face ignominously shoved against the wall,



because I did not answer those questions at sufficient length."2



 



While at the orphanage, Oliver from Oliver Twist also experienced a



great amount of abuse. For example, while suffering from starvation and



malnutrition for a long period of time, Oliver was chosen by the other boys



at the orphanage to request more gruel at dinner one night. After making



this simple request, "the master (at the orphanage) aimed a blow at



Oliver\'s head with the ladle; pinioned him in his arms; and shrieked aloud



for the beadle."3



 



The whole beginning of Oliver Twist\'s story was created from memories



which related to Charles Dickens\' childhood in a blacking factory ( which



was overshadowed by the Marshalsea Prison ).4 While working in the blacking



factory, Dickens suffered tremendous humiliation. This humiliation is



greatly expressed through Oliver\'s adventures at the orphanage before he is



sent away.



 



Throughout his lifetime, Dickens appeared to have acquired a fondness



for "the bleak, the sordid, and the austere."5 Most of Oliver Twist, for



example, takes place in London\'s lowest slums.6 The city is described as a



maze which involves a "mystery of darkness, anonymity, and peril."7 Many of



the settings, such as the pickpocket\'s hideout, the surrounding streets,



and the bars, are also described as dark, gloomy, and bland.8 Meanwhile, in



Great Expectations, Miss Havisham\'s house is often made to sound



depressing, old, and lonely. Many of the objects within the house had not



been touched or moved in many years. Cobwebs were clearly visible as well



as an abundance of dust, and even the wedding dress which Miss Havisham



constantly wore had turned yellow with age.9



 



However, similarities are not just found in the settings. The novels\'



two main characters, Pip and Oliver, are also similar in many ways. Both



young boys were orphaned practically from birth; but where Pip is sent to



live with and be abused by his sister, Oliver is sent to live in an



orphanage. Pip is a very curious young boy. He is a "child of intense and



yearning fancy."10 Yet, Oliver is well spoken. Even while his life was in



danger while in the hands of Fagin and Bill Sikes, two conniving



pickpockets, he refused to participate in the stealing which he so greatly



opposed. All Oliver really longed for was to escape from harsh living



conditions and evil surroundings which he had grown up in.11 However, no



matter how tempting the evil may have been, Oliver stood by his beliefs.



Therefore, he can be referred to as "ideal and incorruptible innocence."12



"It is Oliver\'s self-generated and self-sustained love, conferred it would



seem from Heaven alone, that preserves him from disaster and death."13



 



Unfortunately, many critics have found it hard to believe that a boy



such as Oliver Twist could remain so innocent, pure, and well spoken given



the long period of time in which he was surrounded by evil and



injustices.14



 



Pip, on the other hand, is a dreamer. His imagination is always



helping him to create situations to cover up for his hard times. For



example, when questioned about his first visit to Miss Havisham\'s house, he



made up along elaborate story to make up for the terrible time he had in



reality. Instead of telling how he played cards all day while being



ridiculed and criticized by Estella and Miss Havisham, he claimed that they



played with flags and swords all day after having wine and cake on gold



plates.15 However, one special quality possessed by Pip that is rarely seen



in a novel\'s hero is that he wrongs others instead of being hurt himself



all of the time.16



 



Another similarity between Oliver and Pip is that they both have had



interactions with convicts. Fagin the head of a group of young thieves,



spends most of