Images of Light & Darkness in the Novel Oliver Twist

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     Oliver Twist is the story of crime and vices rampant in Dickens’ time. Whether it is the workhouse where wretched infants and paupers are not even properly fed, or the den of Fagin where boys are given the training of thieves and robbers, the novelist seems to expose the dark faces of mankind and he has very successfully achieved it with the help of the images of darkness. Here and there one can find the images of light also in the novel but they are used as to intensify the gloominess, grimness and darkness of the novel.

      In the very beginning Oliver is put into the dark workhouse. When he asks for more gruel, he is confined into a dark cellar and is given repeated thrashing. Fortunately he escapes from being apprenticed to devil Mr. Gamfield but he finds no relief in the house and shop of undertaker Mr. Sowerberry also. He is condemned to the darkness of the coffins. It is most dark place and the wretched, innocent feels as if lying in his own coffin. Oliver tries to defeat this darkness and walks away from there. He reaches London. For a short time he gets fresh air, sunlight but he could not enjoy it because of all-around darkness. There is little light when Oliver bids good-bye to Dick but both are too weak and wretched. This flickering light intensifies the darkness that is going to engulf both of them, the darkness of death and of crime. Once Oliver meets Fagin in London, he finds himself in absolute darkness. His den is too dismal, dark and suffocating. No ray of light finds way to enter Fagin's den or illumine the perfect darkness. Even the street that leads to this place 'was perfectly dark; so dark, that it was impossible to distinguish even the form of the speaker.' The other place which is the common meeting place of criminals The Three Cripples is 'as dark as the grave'.

      The dilapidated warehouse where Monks frightens Bumble by night, is sunk into utter and oppressive darkness. Nancy lurks in 'black shadow' on the 'slim steps' of the bridge when she goes to meet Mr. Brownlow on the London Bridge. Before the sunrise Nancy's murder takes place because light is not significant for the ghastly murder. Dawn suggests that evil forces are going to end, and they will be soon swallowed by brightness. After committing this gruesome murder Sikes flees away in the night. His plan is to escape in the darkness so that no one could see him. Likewise he plans to plunge into Folly Ditch in order to escape but he jumps into the mouth of death. When Fagin is sentenced to death, he spends his last days in a dark cell, growing his nails, beating his hands against the wall or glaring at the close wall. The dark cell is in affinity to the dark soul of Fagin. There are several other incidents that happen in darkness. When Oliver tells his story of suffering and sorrows the surrounding are very dark and din: It was a solemn thing, to hear in the darkened room, the feeble voice of the sick child recounting a weary catalog of evils and calamities. In almost dusk Fagin and Monks appear outside the window of the room, in which Oliver is nodding. Oliver can not be sure whether he has seen them in darkness or dream.

      Images of light are very few in comparison with darkness in the novel Oliver Twist. The images of light are associated with Mr. Brownlow and Maylies but for most of the time in the novel, even these lights remain under the shadow of darkness. Thus, there is no image of bright light in Oliver Twist.

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