Narrative Techniques of Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist and David Copperfield Free Essay Example

December 24, 2021 by Essay Writer

“Whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do it well; whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself completely; in great aims and in small I have always thoroughly been in earnest.”

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is considered as one of the greatest writers of all times. His fluid language, the wise mind, the great writing technique, the sharp eye, made his works survive for more than 150 years. He is the author of more than twenty novels.

All of them very appreciated from- book lovers- since the time they were written until nowadays and, with great chance that they will be read and appreciated in the centuries that will come.

The purpose of this diploma thesis is the comparison of narrative techniques of “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield”. “Oliver Twist” belongs to the first years of Dickens’s literary works.1 It was very successful since its first edition but, the critics don’t list it as one of the most valuable works of Dickens.

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2 “David Copperfield” comes after twelve years of “Oliver Twist” and it is considered as one of the most achieved works of Charles Dickens. Dickens himself considers David as “his favorite child”.3 Speaking from the perspective of the narration, as the study will demonstrate, these two novels belong to different forms of narration. “Oliver Twist” is narrated by third person narrator. In construction is considered simpler than “David Copperfield”. The narrator of “David Copperfield” is David himself meaning that the story is told by the main hero.

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This type of narration is a first person narration. However I will discuss about this in more details during the thesis.

Biography of Charles Dickens

Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature’s most iconic novels and characters4. He was born at Landport in Portsea on Friday, the seventh of February, 1812.5 Charles was the son of John, a clerk in the navy-pay office and Lady Elizabeth Barrow. From the early years of his childhood, he hade to face the life of hardships and difficulties due to his father’s failure in maintaining the family. At the age of twelve he had to quit school because his family was being held into debtor’s prison. When he was fifteen he became a clerk in a law firm and later worked as a newspaper reporter. He published his first fiction in 1836 – a series of character sketches called Sketches by Boz. The work was well-received, but its reception was nothing compared to the international acclaim he received with the publication of The Pickwick Papers in the following year. 6 After this early blush of success, Dickens took on the job as editor of Bentley’s Miscellany, a literary magazine in which a number of his early works were serialized, including Oliver Twist (1837-9) and Nicholas Nickleby (1838-9).

He left to begin his own literary magazine, Master Humphrey’s Clock, in 1840, and over the next ten years published many of his most famous novels in serial form, including The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-1), A Christmas Carol (1844), and David Copperfield (1849-50), perhaps the most autobiographical of all his novels. He made his first visit of USA in 1842. He had taken trips in other places like France, Italy and Switzerland but always returning to his home. His journeys abroad influenced him a lot in his work. Other works were serialized in Household Words between 1850 and 1859, which was then succeeded by All the Year Round, which he edited until his death in 1870, publishing such novels as A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1860-1), and Our Mutual Friend (1864-5). A workaholic to the end, Dickens died of a stroke in 1870 after having penned a chapter of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, his final (and unfinished) novel, the previous day.7 Although Dickens is distinguished for his great capability in writing fiction, in his bibliography are included also various poems. Some of them are8: A Child’s hymn, A fine Old English Gentelman, Lucy’s Song, The Ivy Green, Little Nell’s Funeral etc. Dickens has produced a great treasure for the British literature. His novels have challenged the time and today are still present to impress every book lover.

Oliver Twist

Plot 1 of the Novel

“Oliver Twist” is the second book of Charles Dickens. As in many of his novels, the author here also displays the difficulties of young children in the English society of XIX century. The story is about an orphan who has to live a life of hardships since the day he was born. When he is at the age of nine he works at a workhouse but after his promiscuous begging “Please sir, I want some more!” he is taken out the workhouse. After the work house he was hired to an undertaker but from the ill treatment that he undergoes there he is forced to escape. The poor child goes to London with the hope that things will get better in his life but there too he encounters many difficulties and meets people who want to take advantage of his innocence. However, the luck hasn’t completely abandoned him since he meets some good hearted people who take care of him and help him discover the mystery of his birth and find out who were his parents All the adventures of the book end happily. The bad guys pay their dues and the good ones find the tranquility and happiness.

This is a very brief recount of the plot since the analysis will be focused in the narration and narrators point of view.

Narrative Form

From the first paragraph of the novel the reader can notice that the narrator speaks in third person: “Although I am not disposed to maintain that the being born in a workhouse, is in itself the most fortunate and enviable circumstance that can possibly befall a human being, I do mean to say that in this particular instance, it was the best thing for Oliver Twist that could by possibility have occurred. The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration,–a troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered necessary to our easy existence; and for some time he lay gasping on a little flock mattress, rather unequally poised between this world and the next: the balance being decidedly in favour of the latter.” (O.T.; Pg.4; Ch.I )

A third person narration means that the story is recounted from someone outside the book, meaning that he/she is not a character in the book but, is able to “observe” the story from distance. To confirm this I will show some passages which the narrator uses to tell that he is the teller of the story: “That Oliver Twist was moved to resignation by the example of these good people, I cannot, although I am his biographer, undertake to affirm with any degree of confidence; but I can most distinctly say, that for many months he continued meekly to submit to the domination and ill-treatment of Noah Claypole.” (O.T.; Pg.37; Ch. VI)

Although the narrator is objective in most of his narration, when describing some characters he sides a little to influence the readers image about that character.

When describing Noah Calypole his tone takes features of disgust and dislike. The narrator did this because his intention was to influence the reader’s opinion about the character: “With this, Mr. Claypole administered a kick to Oliver, and entered the shop with a dignified air, which did him great credit. It is difficult for a large-headed, small-eyed youth, of lumbering make and heavy countenance, to look dignified under any circumstances; but it is more especially so, when superadded to these personal attractions are a red nose and yellow smalls.” (O.T.; Pg. 29; Ch.V).11 This happens also when the reader is introduced with Fagin, Bill Sikes and all other evil characters. When the reader first meets Fagin besides the repulsive description of the character also the place where he lives appears as dirty and gloomy: “Oliver, groping his way with one hand, and having the other firmly grasped by his companion, ascended with much difficulty the dark and broken stairs: which his conductor mounted with an ease and expedition that showed he was well acquainted with them. He threw open the door of a back-room, and drew Oliver in after him. The walls and ceiling of the room were perfectly black with age and dirt. There was a deal table before the fire: upon which were a candle, stuck in a ginger-beer bottle, two or three pewter pots, a loaf and butter, and a plate.”

Influencing the readers image is a trick from narrators part that he also uses in order to make ground for the image the reader is about to create for a positive character.: When the narrator describes Mr. Bronlown he makes a very pleasant description of him. “The old gentleman was a very respectable-looking personage, with a powdered head and gold spectacles. He was dressed in a bottle-green coat with a black velvet collar; wore white trousers; and carried a smart bamboo cane under his arm.” (O.T. ;Pg.61;Ch.X).

At some characters the narrator is a bit satirical. For example when he describes Mr. Bumble he is trying to make him look ridiculous in the reader’s eyes: “Now, Mr. Bumble was a fat man, and a choleric; so, instead of responding to this openhearted salutation in a kindred spirit, he gave the little wicket a tremendous shake, and then bestowed upon it a kick which could have emanated from no leg but a beadle’s.” ( O.T.; Pg.8; Ch.2).14

When the narrator refers to Billie Sikes, he in the beginning refers to him as “the man”. After Billie commits the burglary it is revealed what he does and after this the narrator refers to him as “the thief”. At the end when he murders Nancy the narrator addresses to him as “the murderer”. The narrator labels this character with the crimes that he makes. This seems to happen because the story teller wants to inform the reader exactly with the features of that personage.

In order to mark the characters of Fagin, Billie, Artful Dodger, and all the other members of the gang as “the bad ones”, the narrator makes their language rude and informal. When the narrator constructs their dialogues he uses the street slang, so the characters appear uneducated and ignorant.

There are passages where the story teller represents the innocence of Oliver by making the reader understand some situations that Oliver is not able to. “ ‘Not so heavy as they might be,’ said the Jew, after looking at the insides carefully; ‘but very neat and nicely made. Ingenious workman, ain’t he, Oliver? ‘Very indeed, sir,’ said Oliver. At which Mr. Charles Bates laughed uproariously; very much to the amazement of Oliver, who saw nothing to laugh at, in anything that had passed.” (O.T. ; Pg.56; Ch.IX).15

Narrator’s Point of View

It is true that the hero of this book is a child and the story is constructed by the adventures that happen to him but, when Dickens wrote the book he also used it to show his points of view about the social live in England.

At the beginning of the chapter II he describes the conditions that the parish children live. The reader can observe that his tone is very satirical but at the same time sad. He mocks with his satire the condition in which the Parish authorities lead the place. In the other hand he uses his language of sorrow when he describes how children suffer there. ”The hungry and destitute situation of the infant orphan was duly reported by the workhouse authorities to the parish authorities. The parish authorities inquired with dignity of the workhouse authorities, whether there was no female then domiciled in ‘the house’ who was in a situation to impart to Oliver Twist, the consolation and nourishment of which he stood in need. The workhouse authorities replied with humility, that there was not.” (O.T. ; Pg.7; Ch.II).

The narrator makes the reader notice the broken system of justice in Victorian England. Throughout the chapter XI are constructed scenes in which the author with his satirical humor r represents the dysfunction of court at that time in England.

In “Oliver Twist” Dickens tries to fight the mentality of people who consider themselves above others 17.Dickens had suffered because of these kinds of people. And he speaks from his heart when he recounts the suffering of the little boy. In this novel, besides the interesting plot the reader can see the point of view and the concern of the narrator about many social problems that in reality were the point of view and the concern of Dickens himself.
The critics don’t classify the novel amongst the most valuable works of Dickens but, it surely plays a great part in the success of the author as well known writer.

David Copperfield

Quick analysis of the plot.

“I am within three pages of the shore; and am strangely divided, as usual in such cases, between sorrow and joy. Oh, my dear Forster, if I were to say half of what Copperfield makes me feel to-night, how strangely, even to you, I should be turned inside out! I seem to be sending some part of myself into the Shadowy World.”

I initiate the analysis of David Copperfield by these lines from the author himself, to demonstrate what his work meant to him. And this is not casual because Dickens, by Copperfield, has sent a part of his life to the readers. “David Copperfield” is regarded as an autobiographical book of Charles Dickens. His life and that of David have many similarities. His childhood of hardship, the work at wine house, later the work as reporter and in the end his life as a successful writer resemble very much the adventures of the main character in the novel. Despite these passages in “David Copperfield”, the author has also built some of the characters basing on people that really existed in his life. An example of this is Mr. Micawber who is a personification of Charles father (he also ended up in debtor’s prison), Dora who resembles Dickens’ first love etc.

The domestic problems that Charles encountered during his lifetime are also disclosed in this novel. David Copperfield is considered one of Dickens’ most highly achieved works. He personally, in one of his Letter to John Forster states that: “David remains his favorite child”. However “David Copperfield” is not just a pure autobiography. Alongside the facts that relate the life of the author with that of the main character, inside the book are discussed and treated many social problems of the Victorian England.

This brief introduction of the plot serves only to have an idea about the novel because as I previously mentioned the theme of the thesis is the comparison of narration and the point of view of the narrator.

Narrative Form

To discuss about the narration I will start with the first lines of the novel.

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show”. These are the first lines of “David Copperfield” and those are the ones that intrigue the reader to continue his adventure with the book. However, despite the intriguing role, these lines also serve to show the reader who is telling the story. The story teller is the protagonist, a data which will be elaborated throughout this paper work When David recounts the story of his birth at the beginning of the novel he tells it as he heard it from others who were there at that moment. “To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night.” It is impossible for anyone to remember the moment of his/her one birth so the narrator begins the recount of his life from what he was told. But he uses the dialogue of Mrs. Copperfield and Miss Betsy to tell the story. The narrator does this improvisation of the situation to introduce the reader with stories that happened before he was born. The first chapter is constructed this way.

In the second chapter David starts being conscious about his surroundings. “The first objects that assume a distinct presence before me, as I look far back, into the blank of my infancy, are my mother with her pretty hair and youthful shape, and Peggotty with no shape at all, and eyes so dark that they seemed to darken their whole neighbourhood in her face, and cheeks and arms so hard and red that I wondered the birds didn’t peck her in preference to apples.” (D.C. ; Pg. 20 Ch. II). Here are shown the first glimpses of narrators understanding of the world. However, we can notice a childish perspective from the narrator. This happens because the narrator tried to show to the reader exactly how he felt and thought at that time as a child. He narrates the story from the child’s point of view in order that the reader can understand better the character of David. When Dickens wrote the novel he was about thirty eight years old. However his tone of narration is different in the course of the novel. The tone is different in the sense of maturity of the narrator. Further one I will discus about this side of narration.

As I noted previously, in the beginning the tone is very childish and his thoughts are those of a little boy. When the narrator wrote the novel he appears to be middle age man, still, he narrates the story from the eyes of a child. At the end of chapter XIV the tone of the narrator calms down a bit. The narrator creates this atmosphere to indicate that David’s hardships as a child are over and now he feels safe. By this tone of narration Charles wants to transmit to the reader that the live of David will take a new turn, probably a better turn. He is saying farewell to the difficulties of little David’s life. However new challenges expect him in the further chapters. With the passing of chapters the narrator/ David grows up and matures. This means that his capacity of thinking and analyzing things matures together with him. So in further chapters we find David more attentive and more aware about his surroundings. At the beginning of the novel he was presented to us a smart child also, always paying attention to things, but now he has a sharper look toward things: “How miserable I was, when I lay down!

How I thought and thought about my being poor, in Mr. Spenlow’s eyes; about my not being what I thought I was, when I proposed to Dora; about the chivalrous necessity of telling Dora what my worldly condition was, and releasing her from her engagement if she thought fit; about how I should contrive to live, during the long term of my articles, when I was earning nothing; about doing something to assist my aunt, and seeing no way of doing anything; about coming down to have no money in my pocket, and to wear a shabby coat, and to be able to carry Dora no little presents, and to ride no gallant greys, and to show myself in no agreeable light!” (D.C. ;Pg 470-;Ch. XXXV).

After the death of Dora we can notice a more serious tone of the narrator. (D.C.; Ch. LIII). It is like the narrator is trying to say that this loss has opened a new vision for David to see how life really is, difficult and unfair. This loss makes him reflect and though the pain didn’t kill him made him stronger, and stronger we will find him in the next chapters.

The Building of the Characters

The narrator does not give his opinions about the character because by the way he describes them he lets the reader to have his/her one imagine about those characters. By the dialogue that Miss Betsey and Mrs. Copperfield have, it is possible for the reader to understand many details about these two characters. The reader creates the image of Mrs. Copperfield by the words she says and the decisions she makes. The narrator only shows the way he feels about her but doesn’t impose his feelings to the reader. This also happens when the reader meets Peggottty. The narrator introduces the reader only with the physical description of the character. To understand the personage better we have to pay attention to her thoughts and attitudes.

However, the narrator does not behave the same with all characters. When David first meets Uriah his description takes tones of repulsiveness and disgust. It was quite as cadaverous as it had looked in the window, though in the grain of it there was that tinge of red which is sometimes to be observed in the skins of red-haired people. It belonged to a red-haired person – a youth of fifteen, as I take it now, but looking much older – whose hair was cropped as close as the closest stubble; who had hardly any eyebrows, and no eyelashes, and eyes of a red-brown, so unsheltered and unshaded, that I remember wondering how he went to sleep. He was high-shouldered and bony; dressed in decent black, with a white wisp of a neckcloth; buttoned up to the throat; and had a long, lank, skeleton hand, which particularly attracted my attention, as he stood at the pony’s head, rubbing his chin with it, and looking up at us in the chaise.(Pg. 20; Ch.XV). In the other hand the tone of the narrator when he meets Agnes is very pleasant and is noticed a sort of admiration for her. On her face, I saw immediately the placid and sweet expression of the lady whose picture had looked at me downstairs.

It seemed to my imagination as if the portrait had grown womanly, and the original remained a child. Although her face was quite bright and happy, there was a tranquillity about it, and about her – a quiet, good, calm spirit – that I never have forgotten; that I shall never forget. This was his little housekeeper, his daughter Agnes, Mr. Wickfield said. (D.C.; Pg.213; Ch. XV).28 The author does this in order to influence the reader’s image about the characters features and what inform previously the reader what to expect form that character.

The placing of the Narrator

In about 900 pages of “David Copperfield” are shown also stories of other personages besides that of David. In order to continue telling the story in the first person, Dickens uses various maneuvers to make this possible. In cases when describing a situation where the narrator wasn’t present he uses the confession of another character. ‘On the last night, in the evening, she kissed me, and said: “If my baby should die too, Peggotty, please let them lay him in my arms, and bury us together.” (It was done; for the poor lamb lived but a day beyond her.) “Let my dearest boy go with us to our resting-place,” she said, “and tell him that his mother, when she lay here, blessed him not once, but a thousand times.”‘ (D.C. ; Pg131 Ch. IX).29 He describes these situations by dialogue with him and that character. Another situation is when only a specific character tells the story and in some other passages David interferes in that narration by adding his impressions about that situation. In these situations the narrator also analyzes the event by his point of view.

The reader can encounter some parts in the novel where the narrator is not involved in a situation but, for the sake of narration he “places” himself in that event as a spectator: “I said something to the effect that it was a lady whom I had seen before, in a few words, to my conductress; and had scarcely done so, when we heard her voice in the room, though not, from where we stood, what she was saying.” (D.C. ; Pg. 668; Ch. XLVII).30

In order to tell how Uriah Heep and Mr. Littimer ended up, Charles makes a smart move where he invents a visit to the prison where these two were paying for their crimes (Ch LX). Another smart move of the narrator is as well the chapter when Mr. Peggotty visits David and recounts him how the emigrants are doing in the far land of Australia. The narrator “puts” the correspondence into Mr. Peggotty’s pocket (D.C.; Ch. LXII). Due to this correspondence David is able to tell the story by his own words. In this way the narration though not about David, still remains in the first person.

Different Approaches Toward Situations

When analyzing his point of view about things that happened, there are different approaches from narrator’s part.

From time to time, while rummaging into his past, the narrator reveals that he has the same feelings about a specific situation or person. “I fell at once into a solitary condition, – apart from all friendly notice, apart from the society of all other boys of my own age, apart from all companionship but my own spiritless thoughts, – which seems to cast its gloom upon this paper as I write. (D.C. ;Pg. 146; Ch. X).31 But, there are other parts in the book where the narrator now recounts the story with a different approach towards that situation from the moment when it occurred. It seems like the time has passed and the narrator’s attitude toward some things and ideas has changed, which is a natural thing to happen. “They did just what they liked with me; and wormed things out of me that I had no desire to tell, with a certainty I blush to think of, the more especially, as in my juvenile frankness, I took some credit to myself for being so confidential and felt that I was quite the patron of my two respectful entertainers.” (Pg. 243;Ch XVII).32

Being an autobiography the author has still some remembrances about how he felt when he witnessed some events. So, when he remembers the past he also describes the sensation that he experienced at that time. “There was a trembling upon her, that I can see now. The coldness of her hand when I touched it, I can feel yet.” (D.C. ; Pg. 413; Ch. XVV).33 It looks like he is living that moment and he is addressing it directly to the reader. At some passages the narrator laments some decisions that he took and now that he writes the story he has a different point of view about those decisions. I was a boyish husband as to years. ” I had known the softening influence of no other sorrows or experiences than those recorded in these leaves. If I did any wrong, as I may have done much, I did it in mistaken love, and in my want of wisdom. I write the exact truth. It would avail me nothing to extenuate it now.” ( D.C. ;Pg.602; Ch. XLIV).

The Revelation of the Narrator

The chapter “Tempest” is very important in the narrative sense. At the beginning the author states that the things that he is writing at this stage don’t have very much time that has occurred: “I now approach an event in my life, so indelible, so awful, so bound by an infinite variety of ties to all that has preceded it, in these pages, that, from the beginning of my narrative, I have seen it growing larger and larger as I advanced, like a great tower in a plain, and throwing its fore-cast shadow even on the incidents of my childish days.” (D.C. ;Pg. 731; Ch LV). Besides this fact, the narrator also confirms that this is the story of his life and he is approaching the end of his narration. Another detail in this chapter about the narration is that David places himself in the region where the tempest happened. This is a way of making possible the continuance of the narration in the first person: “We came to Ipswich – very late, having had to fight every inch of ground since we were ten miles out of London; and found a cluster of people in the market-place, who had risen from their beds in the night, fearful of falling chimneys.”

Four chapters of the novel, called “Retrospect” are narrated in the present tense. It looks like he is living these moments at the time the he is writing. Those lines have something poetic in them. They flow like a river from narrator’s pen and the reader is the sea that receives them (D.C.chap. XVII, XLIII, LIII, LXIV).

Similarities Between Oliver Twist and David Copperfield

It is a failure to try to draw a parallel between the forms of narration of these two novels because, “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield” in the narrative form, are two contrary poles. “Oliver Twist” is recounted from the third person narrator whereas “David Copperfield” belongs to the first person narrator. But, if we dig into the depths of the subjects, the reader can find many similarities, which represent the point of view of the narrator. Dickens lived in a time where the society in England had many disorders and inequalities. Some of them are discussed in both novels. In both novels the main characters are children. With the difficulties these characters are challenged, the narrator tries to present the difficult life that orphan children have to go through. By his satirical tone Dickens addresses his narration to the ear of authorities who were responsible for those children. But this was not only an appeal for the authorities who were responsible for those children but also for the society in general to be more attentive and show more compassion for those children.

Dickens also represents the difficult conditions in which those children were obliged to work in order to survive. Dickens, with the portrait of these two characters, arouses the voice for the poor law about the children’s labor. He not only questions the poor law but, also puts a question mark whether the children should work at all. The atrocities that Oliver suffers in the undertakers shop and, the difficult job of David in the wine house illustrate Dickens concerns about that matter. Suffering in his flesh the life of hardships as a child, the author was really concerned about this. I can say that the author writes with personal references about this matter.

The other subject that Dickens treats in both novels is (if I can name it like this) the immoral women. The moral of women was a delicate subject in the era of Victorian England but, Dickens finds a way to treat this matter with much careful in both novels. The author does not prejudice them, just the contrary he treats them as human beings and explains the reason why those women decided to take the path of immorality. In Oliver Twist the character of Nancy is indicated to be a prostitute. The narrator never states this but, indirectly, all the description of this girl can lead the reader to that conclusion. Even in these circumstances the author manages to have the Victorian’s reader attention without offending him or her. By the portrait of Nancy, the author explains the reason how some of these women have no choice but to take the life of sin. She was an orphan with no one to love or take care of her. To survive she had to do what she could. The character of Nancy is presented in both sides of the medal.

She was living a life of shame however, she shows her good heart when she tries to help Oliver escape. Anyway, although the narrator somehow justifies her decision and makes the reader pity her, he makes her pay for the live she led. And the best way to do this was by not letting her live anymore.

In “David Copperfield” are two women who “torment” the society with their indecency. The first one is Emily who abandonees her fiancé in order to climb the higher class of the society and become a lady. However, she shows her repentance from the beginning in her letter of goodbye. This way even though she committed an immorality she was not presented as a monstrous person. However in the end, the author convicts her with the isolated life in Australia and although she becomes a worthy member of society in the far land, she is destined to live alone. The second character is Martha. She is an orphan also and she falls into the life of sin. Just like Nancy in Oliver Twist the author never mentions the word to label her but, every reference to her leads that she is a prostitute. The author makes the reader feel sorry for her and maybe forgive her when she helps David find Emily.

The author rewards her with a new life in Australia and a descent husband. Previously in the research I have mentioned the way in which the narrator describes the characters ( Pg. 6, 11). Since I have elaborated this above I will not deal in detail with it here. I will just show briefly that the form is the same in both novels. At some characters the narrator uses their dialogue to show their characteristics. In some cases the narrator uses his own thoughts to influence the reader’s image towards certain character. Dickens has used both methods in both novels so I can consider this as a similarity between these two objects of my research. Being written by the same author it is very probable that these two novels have much more in common besides the points which I have mentioned. However, they do not belong to the subject of my research.


In this thesis I have tried to compare the base on which these two novels are constructed, the narration. These novels belong to two different narrations. “David Copperfield” is considered as a masterpiece whereas “Oliver Twist” is not so much distinguished. However, speaking in the plain of popularity they both are at the same level. Due to the images the narrator uses the reader feels sorry for the way Oliver was brought up. The famous expression that the hunger forces the poor boy to utter “Please sir, I want some more! “, has the power to make a reader cry from compassion. Because of the fluid language with which the narrator pictures the beautiful landscapes, the reader runs from his reading place to those landscapes. The accurate description of characters and their smart construction of dialogues create in the reader’s mind a perfect image for each character.

Narration is the essential column in the construction of a novel. It is the key to make the reader cry from sorrow, feel repulsive from the disgust or make him/her feel the fresh air of meadows and sense the odor of roses. Dickens had the talent to create all these effects in his novels but not only. Due to his kind and humble heart we are able to see the things from a poor little boy perspective and feel the irony with which he describes those people who look down on others. Because of Dickens’s sharp eye the reader is able to observe Uriah’s bad intentions. The city of London comes to our room because of his accurate description of it. Despite their different forms of narration Dickens in both of the novels has treated some similar subjects. In both novels are displayed the suffering of two boys in the conditions of Victorian England. The hard conditions in which children are allowed to work, the morality of women the function of courts are some of them.

When I read these novels except the satisfactory function that the art of literature can give you, I was introduced to new horizons of thinking and analyzing things. During the research I have read many appreciations that critics have addressed to Dickens. And, after I read and analyzed some of his novels I could not do more but strongly agree with those critics.


  1. Dickens, Charles, Oliver Twist,
  2. Dickens, Charles, David Copperfield, Project Gutenberg (2006)
  3. Forster, John, “The Life of Charles Dickens” Vol. I, Cambridge University Press (2011)
  4. Forster, John, “The Life of Charles Dickens” Vol. II, Cambridge University Press (2011)
  5. Chesterton, G., K. Appreciation and Criticism of the Works of Charles Dickens, Gutenberg Project


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