Oliver Twist, subtitled The Parish Boy's Progress, is Dickens's second novel, published in serial form in 1837-1838. The story is about an orphan who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker. He escapes and travels to London where he meets a gang of juvenile pickpockets. Naively unaware of their unlawful activities, Oliver is led to the lair of their elderly criminal trainer Fagin.
The book exposed the cruel treatment of many a waif-child in London, which increased international concern in what is sometimes known as "The Great London Waif Crisis": the large number of orphans in London in the Dickens era. An early example of the social novel, the book calls the public's attention to various contemporary evils, including child labour, the recruitment of children as criminals, and the presence of street children. Dickens mocks the hypocrisies of his time by surrounding the novel's serious themes with sarcasm and dark humour.
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