Oliver Twist Book Review

In: Book reports & literature essays

Oliver Twist book review

Book review is not the same as summary. Of course, your book review may include a short summary but it must be limited to one paragraph only.  Writing Oliver Twist book review you need to focus on the following questions:

1)      What is the main idea of the book?

2)      Who are the main characters and what are their roles?

3)      What is the turning point of the book?

4)      Is the book easy or difficult to follow

5)      Would you recommend this book to others?

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Oliver Twist Book Review Excerpt

In Oliver Twist sentimentality and horror almost crowd comedy out of the book. The Artful Dodger alone recalls the zest of Pickwick, and it is worth contrasting his appearance before the magistrate with Sam Weller in the trial scene in order to appreciate the difference between Dickens when he is detached and when he enters into one of his characters.

The Dodger, having treated the magistrate and the court generally with contumely, is dragged away by the jailer, and as he goes cries to the bench: "Ah! it's no use your looking frightened; I won't show you no mercy, not a hap'orth of it. You'll pay for this, my fine fellers. I wouldn't be you for something! I wouldn't go free, now, if you was to fall down on your knees and ask me. Here, carry me off to prison! Take me away!."

There are not many gleams like this in the book, which presents great difficulties to the worshipper of Dickens as a simple and robust genius. Even Mr. Chesterton, who for the most part champions Dickens with the easy and inspiring irrelevance of Serjeant Buzfuz pleading for Mrs. Bardell, shows a certain restlessness in the presence of Oliver Twist, which he calls by far the most depressing of all Dickens's books, and in some ways the most irritating. Matters are not much mended by his suggestion that "as a nightmare, the work is really admirable." The right thing to say about Edgar Allan Poe could hardly, he must have realized, be the right thing to say about Charles Dickens. However, there is always the French Revolution, so away he plunges on his hobby-horse, leaving the reader to distinguish as best he ran between Oliver Twist as a nightmare and Oliver Twist as a noon-day challenge to human tyranny.

The satire on the workhouse system at the beginning of Oliver Twist, though not so tremendous as Mr. Chesterton paints it, is the best and the least overcharged portion of the book. Oliver Twist asking the master of the workhouse for more gruel--compared by Mr. Chesterton to the ragged peasants of the French Revolution confronting the Kings and Parliaments of Europe--is a touching image of hope not yet crushed by experience, and has the further merit of expressing through an idealized version of the youthful Dickens Dickens's own permanent conviction that he was entitled to more than he had yet received. There is a fine perception, too, of the attitude of the propertied classes to the poor in the scene in which a sweep applies to a magistrate for Oliver Twist to serve him as an apprentice. The well-to-do do not want the poor to suffer. They wish them to be as happy as is consistent with the continued prosperity of the well-to-do.



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