The Gentleman of Birth: Oliver Twist
Keywords:Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Victorian gentleman, nobility, gentility, wicked gentleman, true gentleman, gentleman of birth
AbstractAs the focus in this article is mainly on Dickens’s descriptions of the gentleman of birth in Oliver Twist, selected extracts from the novel as well as critics’ opinions will help us analyze the gentlemanly attitudes of the main characters connected to their noble origin and gentle manners. While Oliver opens his eyes in poor conditions, he always feels that he has noble blood. Dickens believes that manners not social status make people true gentlemen yet, he mixes the ‘noble origin’ issue in his novel Oliver Twist, probably as a result of the Victorian people’s perception of ‘gentility’ which was very close to the concept of ‘nobility’. Since Dickens added the flavor of ‘noble’ birth, his naïve nature as well as his perceptions – the way how he interprets people’s behavior and things which happen around him and which construct his identity, his pure heart and his fate (reference to his belief and sincere praying) remarkably influence the positive changes in his life time. Dickens’s little hero, Oliver Twist, while naturally appreciating goodness, is disgusted by immoral things like ‘stealing,’ which was unfortunately happening around. What are the main factors that shape his kind, noble and naïve character? Is it ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’? What could be the major reasons for Nancy, Rose and Mr. Brownlow to give their assistance to Oliver? Whose –Mr. Brownlow’s or Fagin’s– teachings or influences are welcomed by Oliver? The answers to these questions will eventually illustrate how gentlemanly manners are inherited or acquired by Oliver.
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