• ‘Oliver Twist’ and the Gothic Tradition
• Name:- Sejal Chauhan
• Paper:- 6 – The Victorian Literature
• Roll No:- 28
• M.A. Part-1 Sem-2
• Submitted to:- M.K.Bhavnagar University.
What is Gothic Novel?
• A Gothic novel is a genre of
literature that combines
elements of both horror
• The novel would normally
be set in a spooky castle or
What is Gothic novel?
• The term ‘Gothic novel’ refers to the novel of horror
popularised towards the end of the eighteenth century.
• English novel from Defoe to Miss Burney was characterised by
a note of realism.
• The novelist tried to portray real life and to deal with things
as they actually saw them, without touching them with any
• Supernatural Elements
• Scene of darkness and night
• Coldblooded murders
• Similar tragic happenings
Gothic elements in ‘Oliver Twist’
• Dickens was very much influenced by the Gothic
• Though the scene of the novel is contemporary
England, the atmosphere of fear and desperation
surrounding Oliver belongs to the Gothic tradition.
• Exciting adventure, violent emotions,gloomy
atmosphere,graveyards, secret passages, sensations
of crime and terror aimed at making the readers’
flesh creep if these are the elements that distinguish
Gothic novel,they are very much present in Oliver
Oliver at Mr Sowerberry’s
• If Oliver Twist does not frequently take us to the
graves in the churchyard, there are frequently
reminders of death, and the atmosphere of the
workhouse,the threat of Oliver’s apprenticeship to
Mr Gamfield and his work at Mr Sowerberry’s place
are all steeped in the chill of death.
• Mr Sowerberry’s shop, in particular, has a close
affinity with the graveyard, and Oliver’s first night
there fills him with a feeling of awe and dread:
• An unfinished coffin on black tressels,which stood in
the middle of the shop,looked so gloomy and death-
like that a cold tremble came over him,every time his
eyes wandered in the direction of the dismal
object,from which he almost expected to see some
frightful form slowly rear its head, to drive him mad
with terror………………………….The recess beneath the
counter in which his flock mattress was thrust looked
like a grave.
• This description of the shop seems to be straight out
of the pages of a Gothic novel.
The scene of the meeting between Monks and
• Monks derives his name from one the most reputed
writers of Gothic novels, ‘Monk’ Lewis.
• Monks with his ugly looks remined us of Monk Lewis.
• The house to which he summons Mr and Mrs
Bumble for an interview also belongs to the tradition
of the Gothic novel.
• As the husband and wife move towards the house
and the husband carries a lantern in his hand. The
• Had long been known as the residence of
none……….,to the conjecture that they were disposed
there, rather for the preservation of appearances,
than with any view to their being actually employed.
• The dark room in which…….Towards the end of the
meeting Monks takes a locket and a ring from Mrs
Bumble and suddenly wheeled the table aside, and
pulling an iron…….with great precipitation.
• The last evidence of Oliver’s parentage is also
• Though Fagin belongs to contemporary England,his
hideouts in deserted,dilapidated,out of the world
places are all in the Gothic setting.
• No sunlight can pierce through his den.At one stage
Oliver scrutinises the place and finds it completely
• The Three Cripples where the criminals often meet is
another dark and dingy place belonging to the same
• While writing Oliver Twist Dickens had the awareness
of the entire Gothic tradition in his mind and some of
the scene mentioned above carry an unmistakable
stamp of that tradition.
• But while the Gothic novel was written with the sole
purpose of starling and mystifying the
readers, Dickens’s purpose in writing Oliver Twist is
to create social awareness of the evils present in the