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Abstract :Oliver Twist by Dickens is characterized by a few coincidences especially happy encounters ,about which somereviewsare unfavorable.Thispaper,sharingquiteoppositeopinionsto the unfavorableones,provescoincidences have advantages by means of systematic analysis from the following four points : background of production and publication ,Dickens’radical ideas ,his unique artistic style as well as his firm belief“good is rewarded with good ,and evil with evil. ”
Key words :coincidence ;happy encounter ; advantage
摘 要: 英国著名批判现实主义作家狄更斯所著《雾都孤儿》,其创作的特点之一是多处情节的巧合。从《雾都孤儿》创作背景、发表形式、狄更斯的激进思想、独特的创作风格以及坚定的善恶有报的信念等四个方面作以全面、系统地分析,以此说明情节的巧合是这部小说的优势。
Oliver Twist is Charles Dickens’first fully crafted with hard -heartedness ,tyranny and hypocrisy. He used novel. It centers on the hard years of an orphan , Oliver his unique humor , fierce satire and penetrating insight to Twist , and is set against the seamy underside of the Lon2 expose the dark sides of the then society. Meanwhile he don criminal world. Dickens created a lively picture of low showed his great sympathiy for the miseries and hardships life under the capitalistic system. As the author of the suffered by the working people. It is widely acknowledged novel ,he mounted a direct attack on the cold impersonali2 that the book’s main theme is positive and optimistic, ty of the workhouse system representing the class people which reflects Dickens held radical ideas at that time,and reviews were and are generally favorable. However, Dickens was severely criticized for introducing many coincidences in the plot of the story. For example , the first person that Oliver Twist pickpockets happens to be Mr.Brownlow , a good friend of his father’s. Later , Oliver is forced by Fagin to accompany Sikes in an attempted robbery of a house , (needing a small boy to enter a window and open the door for the housebreakers) , whose owner , Mrs. Maylie , by chance is his mother’s elder sister -his aunt. Such incidents which seem to be unbelievable are regarded by many as“uneven and contrary to the real life. ”Seemingly , coincidences become the negative side of the novel. Some even go so far as to think Dickens was not well -thought in plotting the story. As a novelist , Dickens represented English critical realism writing during the 19th century. He was highly praised by Karl Marx as put emphasis on readers’dramas. Considering that Oliver Twist appeared in a sult , he did not have the sufficient time that other writers such as Gustave Flaubert , who spent one week in choosing“a precise word ”, and Anatole France ① , who once had his works retype -set seven times , possessed. Under these restricted conditions , it was not easy for Dickens to produce such a compact and well -organized novel with a very complicated plot and vivid portraits of characters. His accomplishment proved that his plot of a story was ingeniously conceived and well -done.
Dickens was stage -struck , and he haunted the London theaters. This benefited him a great deal , providing him with inspiration for his writings and experiences that proved useful for his fiction publications , from Oliver Twist onwards. The plot of his story is unavoidably theatrical , to some degree , as a result of the influence of “one of the excellent novelists in Britain. ”Such a great monthly installment “Bentley’s Misscellany”, Dickens novelist did not arrange coincidences in the story without reaction and always kept an eye purposes.
ly , we
rather than the one -sided approach.
Therefore , to understand coincidences correctanalyze them systematically from all sides on the sales figures , for which he drew on the theatrical Background with which Oliver Twist was produced and published.
During his whole life , Dickens produced as many as 15 major novels and countless short stories and articles, most of which he wrote to keep the promises made to publishers. They were published in serial texts , sometimes weekly but usually monthly. Oliver Twist happens to fall in the latter situation -monthly serial publications.
Knowing this is the key to have a deep understanding of these coincidences of the story. Very often he had to hurry to finish his part of the story within a month or sometimes even in less than one week before the next number came out. Indeed , he began to provide installments of Oliver Twist (1837 -1839) for the magazine while still writing Pickwick Papers , and Oliver Twist was not completed until November 1839 , but Dickens had already begun another , entirely different novel , Nicholas Nickleby.
With a rough outline of the plot and characters sketched in advance , he carefully confined himself to limited space of page , strict schedule and a set writing plan. As a retraditions of the melodramas that he had seen in Chatham and London , creating a climax in every number , even changing direction when necessary to keep readers’attention and interest. Thus the magazine installments became the equivalent of stage scenes in which good and evil were starkly opposed. This gave little cause for criticism because we should judge a plot not by whether it is real or not but by what it is meant for. So Dickens , without any hesitation , put coincidences where he thought to be needed to make the story complicated , unexpected and exciting.
To escape the ill -treatment of the undertakers , the foundling Oliver runs away to London alone. On the outskirts of the city , Oliver , who is tired and hungry , happens to meet the pickpocket Jack Dawkins who offers him a place to stay in London. Thus Oliver is thrown together with the band of thieves run by the sinister Fagin. This is exactly what we call “out of the frying -pan into the fire”. It is a coincidence that not only arouses the emotions but also engages the sympath of his readers for the parentless , penniless hero and creates concerns for his future. At the Brownlow home Oliver is treated kindly and, after a period of recuperation , is sent on an errand by Mr. Brownlow to pay a local merchant five pounds and to return some books. On carrying out this charge Oliver happens to be captured by Nancy and Bill Sikes and returned to Fagin’s den of thieves. This small coincidence makes the story no less dramatic. What’s more , Dickens was better at vivid portraits of trifling matters of everyday life , in which lies his artistic charm. Thus he kept us fully attracted and left us thinking of coincidences as true rather than“uneven or contrary to the real life. ”
Coincidences embody Dickens’radical ideas Dickens wrote Oliver Twist at the age of 25 , when he was bursting with youthful vigor , imbued with vitality and optimism , which became the main drift and purpose of his literary production to the letter. While ruthlessly from untold sufferings on condition that he is powerful and bold enough to face the reality and fight against the evil forces. His ideas guiding literary creation of this kind encouraged those who were then living in an abyss of misery , and who , consequently , from his novel , saw faintly a streak of light in the dark. Meanwhile he warned his readers of the dangers of degeneration. So the coincidences that Oliver happens to meet his late father’s good friend Mr. Brownlow and his mother’s elder sister Mrs. Maylie have the implications of Charles Dickens’radical ideas -being optimistic , intense pursuit of the happiness , and his firm belief that“tomorrow will be better. ” exposing the dark corners of life and fiercely attacking the Creating coincidences is one of Dickens’unique cynical reality , he showed us the good trend in the devel2 artistic styles. The Russian literary lion Gorky said , realopment of the society rather than depicted it as pitch ism and romanticism often seemed to combine in great dark. So from his novel , readers have a strong sense that artists.
Dickens is such a great one who is characterized Creating coincidences is one of Dickens’artistic styles -combination of romanticism and realism life is not utterly hopeless. Dickens chose to convey this message through coincidences in the book. Oliver is born of a dying mother in a parish workhouse and then sent to an infant farm , run by Mrs. Mann , until he is nine years old , at which time he is then returned to the workhouse again , where he is starved and abused. Where there is oppression , there is rebelling. Young and physically weak as he is , Oliver is mentally powerful and brave enough to advance to the master and“ask for more gruel”on behalf of the group. In the undertaker’s , he fights for his mother’s dignity with Noah Claypole , another of the undertaker’s boy, who offends his late mother , though he pays great cost for it -a more severely physical punishment. Later he runs away to London alone to seek for new life. Such personalities -bravely facing sufferings of life , meeting challenges brought about by misery fate , and rebelling against the evil forces -are the essential conditions for him to happen to meet Mr. Brownlow and Mrs. Maylie , which serve as Dickens’general purpose of arranging coincidences. He made it clear that no matter how tragic your lot is , no matter how hard your life becomes , the unfortunate will certainly get help from good -hearted men to free himself by his perfect combination of realism with romanticism in writing , forming his unique artistic style -mixture of the realistic and the wildly improbable. Thus , it is not hard to understand that Dickens’story is full of legends and melodramas. As we all know , realistic writers aim at painting pictures in real life , by which they manage to reveal the truth of life while romantic writers pay attention to imagination and fascination , and they often describe peculiar things in an exaggerated way. In Oliver Twist , theses two opposite ways of writing are unprecedentedly well-mixed.
Dickens had a good memory and was endowed with great power of astonishing imagination. He had acute eyes , sharp ears and nose , and an excellent memory that enabled him to bear in mind every subtle detail of things that he had ever seen , heard , tasted or touched in his life , by using this he generated an imagination in which even Shakespeare could not match him. Oliver Twist is indisputably alive with such amazing gifts of Dickens. Every scene depicted in it is identical to that in real life whether viewed from the perspective of sense of sight , hearing , touch or taste and smell. Moreover , his vivid account of characters created great power to astonish his readers. In generating the story , he used his imagination with marvelous dexterity to create countless coincidences within the plot. In a sense , his artistic style -creating coincidences was also characterized by exaggeration , that is , an exaggerated mixture of romanticism and realism.
Therefore , the situations he described in the novel were not the facts that happened really in a certain place at a certain time , but the ones that should or were more likely to happen in real life. Moreover , they were processed , or rather , exaggerated by the artist Dickens. As a result , these situations in the book became romantically realistic. As Dickens himself said , he used romantic realism “largely to express his own moral concepts rather than pursue perfect truth. ”While openly revealing and harshly criticizing hideous features in life , he praised ideal human nature and interpersonal relationships. He thought the masses had virtues and pure and innocent emotions that had not been affected by capitalistic monetary value, forming a sharp contrast with selfishness , garded as a symbol of good. Pure and innocent children can be compared to angels in Heaven. According to the Bible , having child -like innocence means keeping good and love. Although Dickens was not a Christian , his humanitarian ideas were harmonious with the concept of children advocated by the Bible. Thus , children became symbols of good and love in his mind , which was also the key point of his humanitarianism. As a result , he created happy encounters by using“the simplest creative method -”coincidences“, in which a penniless , hopeless child is offered help from benefactors who free Oliver from sufferings and dangers many times. Towards the end of the novel , as Oliver is being chased by his half brother , villainous Monks , who intends to kill Oliver , thereby negating the unknowing Oliver’s claim to his rightful inheritance which would then go to Monks , Oliver happens to Brownlow again despite a long period of losing touch with each other. This good -hearted gentleman conquers Monks and helps Oliver get his share of inencounter Mr. tyranny and cruelty of aristocrats and the bourgeoisie. As a novelist , his finest quality lied in his ability to look at problems objectively -everything has its good and bad sides. According to him , human nature was of no class. Every class has its good people and bad ones. Monks is a representative of the unprincipled in the underworld while Mr. Brownlow and Mrs. Maylie the benevolent with noble mind of the bourgeoisie. Such plot of the story shows he had lofty ideals of life , which inspire people to fight bravely with the evil forces rather than to surrender to it. Through coincidences he hinged his hopes on the beneficent bourgeoisie that they should help the underworld that were born with virtues and noble mind.
Good is rewarded with good, evil with evil Description of rare incidents reflects Dickens’consistent creative attitudes and aesthetic psychology. Viewed from the perspective of the main theme of the novel , coincidences indicate that Dickens , an optimistic and romantic humanitarian , held the concept that good is rewarded with good , and evil with evil. Yet from his psychology of creation , it was his concept of children that urged him to plot the story in such a way. In the Bible , a child is reheritance -a large sum of money , hoping he will start a new life. From this coincidence , we seem to see Dickens himself is like a lonely and helpless child who is eagerly expecting happy encounter with good -hearted men by whom he will be offered help. Creating happy encounters is determined by his aesthetic psychology , which corresponds to his great expectations :“Good survives through every adverse circumstances , and triumph at last”② , and the light will supplant the dark in the end.
①Anatole France (1844 -1924) , French writer, literary critic.
②Charles Dickens , preface to Oliver Twist , the third edition , P1 , Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press,1992.
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