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Concept of Truth in Oliver Twist: Analytical Essay

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The famous ​Oliver Twist​ originally written as a book by Charles Dickens now made into a film and directed by Roman Polanski released in 2005 demonstrates that people can make life-changing decisions that help affect their fate. Oliver has to overcome the struggles of living in London during the Victorian Era as an orphan with no one to protect him. Oliver, Nancy and the young pickpockets are all victims of fate but they do make life-changing decisions that affect their fate in the future. In ​Oliver Twist​, it is suggested that people can make life-changing decisions that affect some of their fate but to an extended degree fate is mostly chosen for them.

Polanski suggests that in many ways Oliver is a victim of fate. He was born into poverty and taken to the Orphanage before he was one, Oliver didn’t even have a name, Mr Bumble chose Oliver’s name. Oliver was beaten, deprived and showed harm at such a young age, showing that the orphanage was not an enjoyable place to be. Oliver is unable to change the fact that he is an orphan, just like he is unable to alter how he pulled the short straw meaning he had to go ask for more gruel which was forbidden to do so. When Oliver walked up to Mr Bumble and asked him very politely ‘Please sir, I want some more’ we were shown a close

up of his face. We could see the fear and anxiety on his face as he knew something bad would happen since it is prohibited to ask for more of anything at the orphanage. Oliver was then thrown out of the orphanage and it was by utter coincidence that Oliver met the Artful Dodger, a member of a gang of juvenile pickpockets led by the elderly criminal Fagin, at the market. When Oliver was in the market by himself it was a wide shot, this showed us how weak, vulnerable and how easily he could have been manipulated. He didn’t want to be involved in the violation he was taken in by Fagin not understanding what he was going to ought to do. The film ​Oliver Twist​, explores the idea that it is often fate that controls people’s outcomes in life, not their choices.

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The director highlights how characters such as Nancy and the young pickpockets are caught in a world where they have few choices. Nancy who is a prostitute is simply under Bill Sykes power during the film. Oliver Twist is set in a patriarchal culture so Nancy being a woman already has little power but being a prostitute confirms that she is at the very bottom of the social hierarchy. Nancy’s clothes are very revealing and she is covering her face with too much make-up which makes her look cheap. This implies that she sells her body to make money for her to live. Most often when we see Nancy, Polanski uses a high angle shot to make Nancy look small, petty and frowned upon. Nancy is restricted in the world she is living in because she knows if she leaves and tells Sykes and Fagin she would be beaten to death and when she is found telling about Oliver’s location she is killed by Sykes. The Artful Dodger and Charlie Bates grew up on the streets until they were taken in and taught how to pickpocket by Fagin. Fagin says “fine fellows, fine fellows’, which shows that he is satisfied with their work. He is the first real father figure that they have ever had, he feeds them, provides them with clothing and is their role model nevertheless Fagin teaches them how to steal and pickpocket for his profit. If Dodger and Bates were to tell the traps about Sykes and Fagin’s location and what they were doing, Fagin and Sykes would be executed or hung for stealing and the young pickpockets would have no social welfare system to look after the young pickpockets apart from the workhouse which is more unpleasant than living with Fagin and Sykes. ​Oliver Twist​ implies that to a considerable extent characters have limited control over what occurs in their lifetime.

On the other hand, Polanski demonstrates that to a certain extent people can make life-changing decisions. Oliver decides to be loyal towards Mr Brownlow and an example of this is when Oliver has been kidnapped and he tries to escape from Fagin to go back to Mr Brownlow. Oliver also tries to protect Mr Brownlow’s possessions when he is being kidnapped saying ‘They belong to Mr Brownlow. Send them back. The books and the money’. Oliver also calls out to Mr Brownlow when Sykes and Toby Crackit try to burgle his house. Nancy also makes life-changing decisions in the film. Nancy tells Mr Brownlow about the whereabouts of Oliver and the location of Fagin’s den. She wants to protect and defend Oliver and is willing to do anything including sacrificing her own life to improve the life of Oliver. Nancy says to Fagin “I won’t stand by and see this done” and this shows how she is willing to do anything to free Oliver from his dreadful life. The soundtrack is non-diegetic, dramatic and suspenseful, it adds tension and alerts the audience to the dramatic action taken by this character. The director of ​Oliver Twist​ highlights the belief that people can rise against their fate.

In ​Oliver Twist​ Oliver explores the truth that everyone can make life-changing choices but the majority of the things that do happen to him are determined by fate. Oliver, who is a victim of misfortune and Nancy plus the young pickpockets are unable to escape can to some extent, make life-changing decisions. Most people

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Concept of Truth in Oliver Twist: Analytical Essay. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from
“Concept of Truth in Oliver Twist: Analytical Essay.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
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