I have always wondered which it was that had the largest effect on our actions and who we became as individuals, Nature or Nurture?
Just to provide a brief explanation: Nature encompasses the idea that it is already determined in your genetic makeup what kind of an individual you will be and by extension the actions you will take.
If you’re parents are good people, then you are genetically predisposed to be a good and honest individual. Nurture consists of the idea that your environment has more to do with who you become. The idea that if you grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of violence and crime, your actions and manner of thinking would be influenced towards violence.
Charles Dickens has always seemed, in my opinion, to lean towards the “Nature” theory. The children characters of his, particularly Oliver Twist and David Copperfield, were of good birth but humble beginnings, their lives fraught with peril and misery. Nevertheless, they would remain true to their genetics and were not influenced by the bad individuals they encountered. For example, take Oliver Twist. He was of good breeding, his mother was described as an aristocratic woman, However he had not met his mother for she had died in childbirth.
Throughout the story things go from bad to worse while Oliver remained a “good and honest boy” not swayed by the evil around him.
I must admit I have trouble believing such a thing is possible and I shall explain why.
It had not occurred to me to even second guess the ideas behind Dickens “Oliver Twist” until I read “Les Miserable” by Victor Hugo.
The main character is the ex convict Jean Valjean whose life on the wrong side of the law began by him stealing a loaf of bread because he was hungry.
The entire story centers around this man and his many attempts to redeem himself from the shackles of his old ways.
He was not a bad individual from the start- most people are not – he merely stole a loaf of bread because he was hungry, which lead to his constant struggle with the law. The idea I would like to press upon is the fact that it was his environment that had the influence on him; Valjean was poor and hungry, much like Oliver Twist was, and there was an economic crisis at the time.Stealing a loaf of bread and, later on, silver from a mans home are natural acts to be expected from desperate people during desperate times. It was Valjeans environment that had caused him to steal food and other such necessities.
People adapt to their environments, regardless of their breeding , and though “Oliver Twist” is an excellent story with well established characters, particularly The Artful Dodger, it does not show human nature in its truest form.