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The Humorous Dickens - (By: Hussein Ghunaim)

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Post by Admin Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:33 pm

The Humorous Dickens
A brief look through Oliver Twist

A Project presented to
the Novel Course Professor:

Dr. Abdullatif Al-Khayat

Prepared By:

Hussein Sami Ghunaim


Spring 2005-2006

The Humorous Dickens
A brief look through Oliver Twist

Hussein Ghunaim

Humor in Charles Dickens’ novel (Oliver Twist) can be presented simply, that it is obvious and widely used among the whole novel.
Humor in this novel comes out, mostly, through the irony in the novel in a fantastic way of narrating.
I will go on this tiny project on (Humor in Dickens’ Oliver Twist) in the traditional way of writing that I will introduce an example then I will make a comment about it, also, in brief.
I prefer to start by saying that Dickens has used all of his possible ways to bring out humor to readers, like using: his characters, his language, characters clothes… etc.
In Dickens’ time and in the western communities in general, the humor is different somehow from it in our communities, that if an American said a joke to an Arabian who understands English it may not to be understood directly and the other wise is right also when the roles are replaced. From that, it may be difficult some times for a foreign English language learner to know where the joke here is or there, especially in a 19th century novel, which uses an old English expressions and accents. That was my opinion and it maybe true or false.

* * *

First time reading this novel, I have founded no humor in this novel, maybe because of that I was not understand the language clearly. Nevertheless, during my second read to it, I am now unsure that I can count all of the humorous situations in this novel, because it is uncountable.
* * *

Let us look at the end of chapter (2-II) when Dickens is describing what is happening in that room where the boys are having their meals everyday in the workhouse:
“The bowls never wanted washing. The boys polished them with their spoons till they shone again.” (Oliver Twist, Ch. II, p.10)
Dickens used the boys’ hunger to demonstrate humor here. The scene of the boys whom are eating in rush with their huge spoons, seems to be like someone who is fighting with his dish, and after he finished his meal, he looked at the dish and found it shining like a mirror, as a signal of that he was writhing with hunger. I have founded it containing some kind of humor, but mixed with misery.
* * *

And in a look to the following example from the same chapter and page, we can see the same way of making fun in Dickens’ novel:
“Hinted darkly to his companions, that unless he had another basin of gruel per diem, he was afraid he might some night happen to eat the boy who slept next to him, who happened to be weakly youth of tender age.” (Oliver Twist, Ch. II, p.10)
Dickens used the case of the boy that he is writhing with hunger to the extent that he can eat the boy who slept beside him. He was going back and forth because he was afraid of that. You can see the humorous situation here clearly, as I think.
We saw that in one sheet, we founded more than one example of humor in Oliver twist and there is another one:
“The board were sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr. Bumble rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the gentleman in the high chair, said,
‘Mr. Limbkins, I beg you pardon, sir! Oliver Twist has asked for more!’
There was a general start. Horror was depicted on every countenance.
‘For more!’ said Mr. Limbkins. ‘Compose yourself, Bumble, and answer me distinctly. Do I understand that he asked for more, after he had eaten the supper allotted by the dietary?’
‘He did, sir,’ replied Bumble.
‘That boy will be hung,’ said the gentleman in the white waistcoat. ‘I know that boy will be hung.’ (Oliver Twist, Ch. II, p.10-11)
What a funny situation is this; a boy asked for some more food so he will be hanged!!!. Look at Mr. Limbkins when Mr. Bumble entered the room in a hurry and said that Oliver Twist asked for more, look at Mr. Limbkins’ astonishment from what Mr. Bumble has said. Mr. Limbkins seemed to be astonished that Oliver has asked for more after he ate his meal. Of course he asked for more after he ate his meal, or else he will not ask for more!!!
What a silly and funny question that he asked! Despite of that, the gentleman in the white waistcoat stated that Oliver will be hung for his action. What a judgment is that! You founded the humor here, aren’t you? I found it somehow so humorous.
* * *

Now, let us go forward in the novel and find other examples about our discussion subject ‘Humor’ in this novel.
Let’s go to chapter (8-VIII), and see this conversation between Oliver and the Artful Dodger when they met for the first time in London:
The strange boy whistled; and put his arms into his pockets, as far as the big coat-sleeves would let them go.
'Do you live in London?' inquired Oliver.
'Yes. I do, when I'm at home,' replied the boy. (Oliver Twist, Ch.VIII, p.48)
The joke here depending on the language and what the Dodger has said. The poor Oliver inquired if the Artful Dodger is living in London or not, the Dodger answered him, but in a funny way, that consisting of mockery and being humorous somewhat. The Dodger can say that he is living in London without making that joke. I don’t know if I am clear in this situation.
In the same conversation there is another humor thing; the description of the Dodger’s dress; his coat-sleeves has a long pockets that the Dodger can put a great deal of his hands in his pockets, and he used it to put in it what he is stealing from people. That description appealed to me, that if you imagined him putting his hands in those deep pockets with a look to his tallness you may laugh at him in that situation.

* * *

The last paragraph in chapter (9-IX) has stopped me accidentally; it has some humor hidden in Oliver’s innocence:
Oliver wondered what picking the old gentleman's pocket in play, had to do with his chances of being a great man. But, thinking that the Jew, being so much his senior, must know best, he followed him quietly to the table, and was soon deeply involved in his new study. (Oliver Twist, Ch. IX, p.58)

Oliver is an innocent kid, he doesn’t know what he is involved in, but the humorous thing here is that he is doing what he was told to do without thinking why. He is admiring Mr. Fagin the Jew, thinking that he is teaching him how to be a great man, but he doesn’t know that he is teaching him how to be a great thief, and it is a funny situation that I enjoy so much.
* * *

I hope that a good analysis for (Humor in Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist), although it was not a deep analysis and it was in brief. But I hope that you enjoyed the examples I have presented.
* * *

!!!! Palestinian for EVER !!!!

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