During the early nineteenth century, notions concerning the nature of vision and observation where drastically changing. The introduction to a new age of discoveries had spurred vast experiments into the nature of human sensation, which concluded that vision was not just a simple imitation of the external world but a complex process of physiology, involving both internal and external stimuli. An example of this observation is one shown best in Dickens novel of Oliver twist. Through careful consideration of lexis dickens depicts a scene in which Oliver enters the city. Oliver’s first sight of London.
“Some few stopped to gaze at Oliver for a moment or two, or turned around to stare at him as they hurried by; but none relieved him, or troubled themselves to inquire how he came there.”. The reaction to Oliver in this situation represents the social psychological mind-set of 19th century London. As suggested in the book ‘The metropolis and mental life’, George Schimmel describes this notion “this incapacity to react to new stimulations with the required amount of energy constitutes in fact that blasé attitude which every child of a large city evinces when compared with the products of the more peaceful and stable milieu”. he looks at how the factors of the city life affect the individual. The blasé attitude employed by many city dwellers is possibly what makes them more intellectual, more civilised than most. As depicted in this scene, residents simply pass Oliver without a care, Dickens represents the city as a callous place where citizens are unconcerned of each other with the immediate focus being themselves. With hindsight, London is a very busy place and there is so much going on in a city at one time, that people eventually shut down and eventually begin to ignore everything that is happening around in order for them to stay sane in their environment.
This outlook is essentially a manifestation within the metropolis which can be constituted to the many aforementioned factors. Along with this you also have this factor of money, which also plays a role in this. London being a wealthy and economically enriched city at the time can only reinforce these attitudes. It has been money economy which has thus filled the daily life of so many people with the reduction of qualitative values to quantities terms. Thus the mind-set of many in a city is similar in that it is obsessed with excessiveness of city pleasures over humanity and decency. this shows the nature of companionship within the modern city; it is rather short-lived and shocking rather than lasting and fulfilled which is what Dickens as the flaneur describes.