The contemporary literary paradigm regards the novel Oliver Twist written by Charles Dickens as one of the most significant works of the nineteenth century, which contribute largely to English literary heritage. Although the plotline evolves around controversial and misfortunate life of an orphan boy, who attempts to act against the demands the society imposes on him and find a decent place in life, equally pivotal issue is the role and image of women that Dickens tries to convey to readers. The three main female characters in Oliver Twist – Nancy, Rose Maylie, and Agnes Fleming – are depicted as fallen women and described as both victims of exploitation and betrayal.
Dickens’ position about all female representatives becomes clear from the very beginning of Oliver Twist where he urges readers to focus only on the sincerity of women while overlooking all other drawbacks (Dickens, 1985, p. 36). No exception are Dicken’s three female characters (Salter, 1983). Despite the variety of differences, one of the strongest features that unite them is sincerity. Such sincerity in the novel is realized through the enormous sacrifice that each woman is ready to make. For instance, Nancy gives her life for Oliver although they hardly know each other. Agnes decides to release her family from the shame, created by her notorious life. In addition, Rose Maylie rejects marrying Harry for his own sake. Another more vivid point at which the three women bear much resemblance is the fact that all of them are engaged in notorious sexual relations. In the novel, Agnes Fleming has dubious pregnancy from Mr. Leeford, which could ruin the reputation of her family.
Nancy is a prostitute with miserable life and without hope for a better future. Rose Mayle is described as having sexual relationship with her own nephew – a fact that the Victorian society would strongly frown upon. Despite the fact that these female characters are revealed in the negative light of social judgments for their actions, Dickens develops an effective method of justifying their rejection by society. In an attempt to convey the priority of the inner world over social image, Dickens tries to appeal more to the emotional level of readers than to the logical or rational.
While the similarities between Nancy, Rose and Agnes are implicit, the discrepancies between these women are intentionally explicit. Dickens builds dissimilarities on the basis of notorious facts and social judgments that follow. As a matter of fact, different social and life conditions that those women had to undergo shape their characters in various ways. In other words, Dickens shows that in their souls the three characters are the same; the only thing that makes them different is our perception. When Nancy and Rose meet for the first time, a stark contrast between their social images is vividly observed. Rose is from a reputable family, with good manners, a model for Victorian women. Nancy leads a street life; she is a prostitute without having any family or relatives. These two women exist in two opposite worlds between personal happiness and family well-being and brutality and poverty:
“Thank Heaven upon your knees, dear lady,” cried the girl, “that you and friends to care for and keep you in childhood, and that you were never in the midst of cold and hunger, and riot and drunkenness, and – and something worse than all – as I have been from my cradle” (Dickens, 1985, p. 362).
At first even Dickens describes Nancy as an “infamous creature” (Dickens, 1985, p. 362). However, when Nancy is on her deathbed, Rose passes to hera white handkerchief, with which Rose’s purity, innocence and redemption are also passed. Therefore, because of sincere and true soul, Nancy is able to transform from a socially perceived prostitute into a pure girl. Finally, Agnes is also from a well-known family but commits a sin. If Rose and Nancy are contradictory different, then Agnes is the middle between both of them. Through the use of three different characters Dickens tries to include all social strata, where Rose is a symbol of high class, Nancy shows the lower class and Agnes the middle (Salter, 1983). This method assists Dickens in debunking social misconception that a social position of a woman defines her character. All three women in the novel have different social positions, but committed similar mistakes and behaved in the same honorable way when needed (Dickens, 1974). Thus, it can be admitted that Dickens focused on justification of fallen women – those who were rejected by the society.
Although Nancy, Rose and Agnes may seem extremely different because of different social strata and conditions that they grew in and lived, their inner part, soul, remains the same. First of all, the three women have notorious sexual experience. Such fact is applied to create the image of a fallen woman regardless of her social status. Secondly, each woman realizes her mistakes and sacrifices herself for the sake of saving others. By creating such characters, Dickens showed that his perception of women is made not according to social prejudices or conditions but according to the sincerity and inner intentions.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is quite an extended work. We have prepared a short summary of Oliver Twist, drawing special attention to female characters in the book. If you need to write an essay on Oliver Twist, you should find out more information about the book than is presented in our sample. We offer you the ability to look through our sample summary of Oliver Twist with the aim to evaluate the quality of our papers. You will then be confident that if you make an order on EssayShark, you will get highly-quality assignments.
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It is something of a surprise that one of the best magazine profiles of the last decade is about Axl Rose. But such is the work of John Jeremiah Sullivan, who can take pretty much anything you never thought you’d want to read about respectably (Axl Rose, “Real World”) or anything you never thought you’d want to read about at all (a Christian-rock festival, long-forgotten naturalist loons), and make of it the sort of essay-world you just want to dwell inside. Sullivan seems able to do almost anything, to work in any register, and not just within a single piece but often in the span of a single paragraph. Here, for example, is his first sketch of Rose in person, which can only be quoted at length:
“To me he looks like he’s wearing an Axl Rose mask. He looks like a man I saw eating by himself at a truck stop in Monteagle, Tenn., at 2 o’clock in the morning about 12 years ago. He looks increasingly like the albino reggae legend Yellowman. His mane evokes a gathering of strawberry-red intricately braided hempen fibers, the sharply twisted ends of which have been punched, individually, a half inch into his scalp. His chest hair is the color of a new penny. With the wasp-man sunglasses and the braids and the goatee, he reminds one of the monster in ‘Predator,’ or of that monster’s wife on its home planet. When he first came onto the scene, he often looked, in photographs, like a beautiful, slender, redheaded 20-year-old girl. Now he has thickened through the middle — muscly thickness,” not the larded “thickness of some years back. He grabs his package tightly, and his package is huge. Only reporting.”
Only reporting, indeed, but at the same time not at all. Sullivan’s collection, “Pulphead,” takes its title from a letter of resignation Norman Mailer sent to Esquire in 1960, and frames the work assembled here as bits of pop flotsam. One of his recurring subjects is, well, his own subjects; as he begins one of the essays in this collection, “Last year I was asked to write a magazine story about the future of the human race, a topic on which my sporadic descents to the crushing mental depths of pop-rock culture crit had quite predictably made me the go-to guy.” But there’s a wink to this anxiety, a modest introduction to stories that aim to invest a celebrity like Rose with persuasively mythic significance. Sullivan seems most interested in that rare cultural nexus where artistry — where something genuinely new, challenging — intersects with commercial popularity. What he writes of one blues scholar could easily be said about Sullivan himself: “He was interested, in other words, in culturally precious things that had been accidentally snagged and preserved by stray cogs of the anarchic capitalist threshing machine.”
To take, for example, the Axl Rose description, Sullivan there describes the various moments of a shape-shifting avatar: the Guns N’ Roses frontman begins as a parody of himself, then melds with a lonely personal memory (a man alone at a truck stop) to emerge as an absurd, hale, monstrous, comic-monstrous, tenderly girlish, muscled, obscene legend. This is all in keeping with the broader portrait Sullivan sketches, of a rock star who raised himself out of nowhere (“ ‘Central Indiana.’ I’m not trying to say there’s no there there. I’m trying to say there’s no there”) to become the leader of “the last great rock band that didn’t think there was something a bit embarrassing about being in a rock band.”
This is perhaps the book’s key line, the moral-aesthetic credo behind Sullivan’s reluctant vocation as a magazine writer: he takes a subject on his or her own terms, keeps sacred the premise that his subjects are, unembarrassedly, doing exactly what they intend to be doing. This is argued most beautifully in his elegy for Michael Jackson, in which he explains that to pity the man’s batty idiosyncrasies is to deny the artist’s proud self-creation; it is argued most forcefully in his profile of Bunny Wailer, in which the aging reggae genius gets righteously indignant about GQ magazine’s photographic demands, and in the end gives Sullivan the parting “gift of saying no”; and it is argued with the most intellectual rigor in his reckoning with the white authenticity-hound “rediscovery” of the great bluesmen. “The noble ambition not to be the kind of people who unwittingly fetishize and exoticize black or poor white folk poverty has allowed us to remain the type who don’t stop to ask if the serious treatment of certain folk forms as essentially high- or higher-art forms might have originated with the folk themselves.” In other words, the bluesman knew himself to be a “profound artist” before we ever congratulated ourselves for calling him that.
The line about not being embarrassed ultimately reflects a set of ideas about self-consciousness. Sullivan’s great magazine-writing antecedent is, along with Mailer himself and Terry Southern, clearly David Foster Wallace, and it doesn’t seem to me any great exaggeration to say that “Pulphead” is the best, and most important, collection of magazine writing since Wallace’s “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” But where so much of Wallace, most notably in his extended profile of John McCain and in his tennis appreciations, turns on a distinction between instinctive action and self-conscious paralysis, Sullivan doesn’t find this conflict worth worrying about. His writing about pop musicians gestures toward the idea that there is no heroic self-creation without self-conscious effort, and that just because you’re aware you’re performing doesn’t make the performance any less authentic.
But this emphasis on artistic fiat is ultimately balanced by the thrumming subtext of Sullivan’s own search for roots. Toward the beginning of a moving, personal essay-remembrance of the Southern writer who was his college mentor of sorts, Sullivan writes that he “was under the tragic spell of the South, which you’ve either felt or haven’t. In my case it was acute because, having grown up in Indiana with a Yankee father, a child exile from Kentucky roots of which I was overly proud, I’d long been aware of a faint nowhereness to my life.” (“I’m not trying to say there’s no there there. I’m trying to say there’s no there.”) Sullivan’s own act of self-invention has been not only to write himself into the sentence-level tradition of Southern literature, but to extend it. Where Wallace’s style was so pugnaciously sui generis, Sullivan’s writing is a bizarrely coherent, novel, and generous pastiche of the biblical, the demotic, the regionally gusty and the erudite.Continue reading the main story