Cold Reality of Workhouses Depicted in Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist
Imagine abruptly woken to the harsh sounds of demanding yelling and screaming only to find yourself still shivering from the lack of hole-filled sheets that they call blankets. Feeling fatigued from another sleepless night and faintly from the malnutrition, you eagerly await your habitual serving of gruel for breakfast. Extremely weak from the meager portion, the never-ending day begins as you are led to do various different chores throughout the day. This is the life in a workhouse.
Workhouses “were places where poor homeless people worked and in return they were fed and housed. In 1834 The Poor Law Amendment Act was introduced which wanted to make the workhouse more of a deterrent to idleness as it was believed that people were poor because they were idle and needed to be punished. So people in workhouses were deliberately treated harshly and the workhouses were more like prisons” (Internet source – Charles Dickens 1812-1870). Charles Dickens realistically portrayed the horrible conditions of the 19th century workhouses in his novel Oliver Twist. Dickens attempted to improve the workhouse conditions and as a result, his novel helped influence changes in the problem.
Dickens’ novel shows people how things really were in the workhouses during the 19th century. A child of the parish “ had contrived to exist upon the smallest possible portion of the weakest possible food, it did perversely happen in eight and a half cases out of ten, either that it sickened from want and cold, or fell into the fire from neglect, or got half-smothered by accident; in any one of which cases, the miserable little being was usually summoned into another world” (Twist p.5). Here Dickens shows how children were starved, neglected, inappropriately dressed, and mistreated. His statement also claims that many of the times, the children died in a result to the poor...