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Comparative Analysis of ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘The Chaser’

The story ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens focuses on the life of a young orphan boy who undergoes intense suffering in a private juvenile home. The boy and other poor people narrated in the story suffered from starvation and were given a chance to work in charity organizations that ironically did not help them improve their lives. The story builds from the narrations of Dickins, who criticizes the characters in the story for implicating a social behaviour that they did not enforce. On the other hand, John Collier’s ‘the chaser’ describes the life of a young man called Allan, who finds himself in the claws of affection with a woman in a story. Ironically, Diana, whom the man fell for, was indifferent to him, which made Allan to go against all odds with an aim of winning the love of the Diana. Despite the fact that the two stories differ in context and theme, there are various concepts in the two stories that familiarize with each other. This paper focuses on the comparative analysis of the two stories outlined above.

The story ‘the chaser’ differs from ‘Oliver Twist’ since Dickens focuses on the theme of irony to express how the policies of the organizations did not match with the kind of evil actions they performed to the poor people. Based on ‘Oliver twist’, Dickens focuses on analysing the social imperfections that affects oppressed and the disadvantaged[1]. In the beginning of the story, Dickens analyses the life of Oliver, who finds himself in the struggles of the unforgiving life problems. Oliver and other poor people in the story find themselves starving and thus opt to find work so that they would provide them with basic needs[2]. As Dickins puts it, the long run effect of the poor people in the organizations tend to be similar to the struggles they were experiencing in the streets thus. The Dickens uses the life of the young orphan and other poor people to condemn the evil acts of the public policy towards the disadvantaged people in the society.

            On the other hand, Collier mainly focuses on the theme of love as he uses Allan, the antagonist of the short story, to express the tone of oppression, desire and self-love. In this context, Allan finds himself attracted to a lady in the story called Diana, who is indifferent to him. The self-love portrayed by Allan motivates him to focus his intentions on becoming the object of her obsession[3]. In this case, the tone of love also manifests when Allan’s obsession leads him to purchase a love portion that will help him win Diana’s heart[4].

A contrast of the two stories reveal when John Collier uses a simple language to express concern and care from an old shopkeeper that warned Allan from purchasing the potion. As Collier describes it, the old shopkeeper was concerned with the attempts of Allan and warned him of the repercussion that will arise from his actions[5]. As seen in the story, the old man is determined and informative to help Allan. On the other hand, Dickens does not portray any duty of care or concern from the characters in the story. Based on the main theme of the story, the poor people are lured to work in the charity organizations and instead of improving the lives of the workers, the poor people find themselves economically indifferent as compared to the life in the streets.

The main antagonists in the stories have different characters, which can be clearly used to illustrate the contrast between the two stories. Oliver’s character seems unbelievable in a way that despite the corrupt surrounding that he is raised in, his virtue, purity, and strong personality is absolute. On the other hand, Allan portrays a self-centred, selfish, daring, and possessive character in the story. His infatuating actions of forcing Diana to feel the same love as him makes his character quite different from Oliver.

Despite the contrast in theme and plot setting from the two stories, there are similarities that can be extracted in the stories. First, both stories build their plot by majoring on the lives of two young men who are both trapped by inescapable situations. Both Oliver and Allan from the two stories are the antagonists of the two stories and their actions tend to shape the flow and direction of the stories[6]. The two stories also involve the criminal acts from character in the story such as Fagin and Allan. Based on this argument, Fagin, a character from Oliver twist performs criminal activities by training children to pick pocket people on his behalf and also purchases and sells stolen goods[7]. On the other hand, Allan also commits a crime by trying to drug Diana and forcing her to fall in love with him in a forceful way. Diana did not have any affections for Allan and the actions made by Allan did not impress her[8]. For this reason, Allan uses a love potion bought from a black market to show that the portion itself was an illegal good.

In comparison, the two stories uses similar themes such as irony and love to develop the plot of the stories. Based on the theme of irony, Dickens criticizes the charity organizations, which set public policies but act different from the policies. For instance, the organization operated on a policy that laziness was the main cause of poverty and through offering work to the poor people, they will help them to overcome poverty[9]. This is ironical since the organizations mistreated the poor people and provided harsh working conditions for them. On the other hand, the theme of irony is also demonstrated in Collier’s ‘the chaser’ when Allan finds out that Diana did not have the same feelings for her. Instead of Allan impressing Diana, he goes for a love portion that would ease his process[10]. The theme of love is also expressed by Allan and Nancy in the two stories.

In conclusion, the story ‘Oliver twist’ and ‘the chaser’ illustrate contrasting settings, but still compare. Dickens uses the life of the disadvantaged poor people to illustrate the struggles and oppressions they received from charity organizations that acted controversial to their set polices. On the other hand, Collier illustrates a love story of Allan, who finds himself trapped in self-love and makes all moves to have Diana around his heart. In comparisons, both stories use similar antagonists; Allan and Oliver. Both stories also use the theme of irony and the theme of love to compliment the flow of both stories.

Bibliography

Brittin, Norman A. A Reading Apprenticeship: Literature analysis of short stories. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2005.

Priley, Angela M. “An Analysis of Oliver Twist And Oliver!.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 18, no. 4 (2003), 189-189. doi:10.1353/chq.0.1043.

Schuster, Selina. An Analysis of Childhood and Child Labour in Charles Dickens’ Works: David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. 2014.

Serling, Rod. The Chaser; analysis of self-love; The New Exhibit. [New York, NY?]: CBS Video, 2000.

Telgen, Diane. Novels for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context and Criticism on Oliver twist. Detroit [Mich.]: Gale [Research], 2007.


[1] Priley, Angela M. “An Analysis of Oliver Twist and Oliver!Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 18, no. 4 (2003), 189-189. doi:10.1353/chq.0.1043.

[2] Telgen, Diane. Novels for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context and Criticism on Oliver twist. Detroit   [Mich.]: Gale [Research], 2007.

[3] Brittin, Norman A. A Reading Apprenticeship: Literature analysis of short stories. New York: Holt, Rinehart     and Winston, 2005

[4] Schuster, Selina. An Analysis of Childhood and Child Labour in Charles Dickens’ Works: David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. 2014.

[5] Telgen, Diane. Novels for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context and Criticism on Oliver twist. Detroit   [Mich.]: Gale [Research], 2007.

[6] Telgen, Diane. Novels for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context and Criticism on Oliver twist. Detroit   [Mich.]: Gale [Research], 2007.

[7] Priley, Angela M. “An Analysis of Oliver Twist And Oliver!.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 18, no. 4 (2003), 189-189. doi:10.1353/chq.0.1043.

[8] Serling, Rod. The Chaser; analysis of self-love; The New Exhibit. [New York, NY?]: CBS Video, 2000.

[9] Telgen, Diane. Novels for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context and Criticism on Oliver twist. Detroit   [Mich.]: Gale [Research], 2007

[10] Priley, Angela M. “An Analysis of Oliver Twist And Oliver!.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 18, no. 4 (2003), 189-189. doi:10.1353/chq.0.1043.

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