They made a great many other wise and humane regulations . Three years before the publication of Oliver Twist, the British Parliament passed a controversial amendment to the nation’s “poor-laws.” This amendment stipulated that the poor could receive public assistance only if they took up residence in official workhouses and abided by their regulations.
Yet, in this passage from Chapter , describing Oliver’s sojourn to the countryside with Mrs.
He leaned his back against a bank, and felt that it stood above him, visibly out against the cold night sky.
He threw himself upon the road—on his back upon the road.
Dickens goes on to note that, in the country, even “the poor people” are “neat and clean.” The squalor and starvation that characterize urban poverty are not present in rural England. What fascination is it that can take you back, and make you cling to wickedness and misery?
Given the eagerness of England’s rural poor to migrate to the city, it seems unlikely that this assessment is realistic. ” “When ladies as young, and good, and beautiful as you are,” replied the girl [Nancy] steadily, “give away your hearts, love will carry you all lengths—even such as you, who have home, friends, other admirers, everything, to fill them.