This got off to a rough start for me. The people at the orphanage were so nasty, I almost gave up. Then, around ten per cent of the way through the book, it captured my fancy, and I had no problems forging ahead. Of the four Dickens' books I've read this year, this is my second favorite after Great Expectations
(fwiw, the other two being, David Copperfield
and Bleak House
A major theme in this book is how people are defined by their blood lines. Bad blood makes for a bad person and vice versa. There are, of course, a few who run against this vision. Two in this book being Nancy—who had some good tendencies within a more-or-less depraved character—, the other being Monks, who just seemed to be a quirk of nature, good breeding, but a bad character none the less. Oliver, it turns out, was such a good person because, unbeknownst to everyone, including himself, he did have good blood.
So, apparently, the reason for treating people so badly in orphanages and work houses of Victorian England was because they were depraved anyway. Why bother about them? It's kinda like Romney/Ryan's 47%. They're benighted folks anyway, just looking for handouts, so not worth worrying about.
It's rather an interesting point of view for people claiming to be Christian. My understanding of Christian theology is that all
people are redeemable and should, therefore, be treated with respect.
So, it would seem that little has changed in the past 200 years, the Mr. Bumbles of Dickens' workhouse and the Romney/Ryans of today have the same exalted view of their own worth in society and the same stunted concept of the lack of worth of everyone less fortunate than they. One day, one hopes, those of the Romney/Ryan ilk will either be saved, or else like Mr. Bumble, be discredited and discarded. I'm not holding my breath.