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Oliver twist


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This is a ppt on Oliver Twist with review and conclusions.

Published in: Education

Oliver twist

  1. 1. Charles JohnHuffam Dickens 1
  2. 2. • Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic who is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period and the creator of some of the worlds most memorable fictional characters. During his lifetime Dickenss works enjoyed unprecedented popularity and fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was fully recognized by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to enjoy an enduring popularity among the general reading public.• Born in Portsmouth, England, Dickens left school to work in a factory after his father was thrown into debtors prison. Though he had little formal education, his early impoverishment drove him to succeed. He edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for childrens rights, education, and other social reforms. 2
  3. 3. Charles Dickens 3
  4. 4. Charles Dickens• Dickens rocketed to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, celebrated for his humour, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly instalments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication. The instalment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audiences reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback. For example, when his wifes chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities, Dickens went on to improve the character with positive lineaments. Fagin in Oliver Twist apparently mirrors the famous fence, Ikey Solomon; His caricature of Leigh Hunt in the figure of Mr Skimpole in Bleak House was likewise toned down on advice from some of his friends, as they read episodes. In the same novel, both Lawrence Boythorne and Mooney the beadle are drawn from real life – Boythorne from Walter Savage Landor and Mooney from Looney, a beadle at Salisbury Square. His plots were carefully constructed, and Dickens often wove in elements from topical events into his narratives. Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in hapennies to have each new monthly episode read to them, opening up and inspiring a new class of readers. 4
  5. 5. Charles Dickens 5
  6. 6. Charles Dickens• Dickens was regarded as the literary colossus of his age. His 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, is one of the most influential works ever written, and it remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre. His creative genius has been praised by fellow writers—from Leo Tolstoy to G. K. Chesterton and George Orwell—for its realism, comedy, prose style, unique characterisations, and social criticism. On the other hand Oscar Wilde, Henry James and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth, loose writing, and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism. 6
  7. 7. Autobiographical elements• An original illustration by Phiz from the novel "David Copperfield", widely regarded as Dickenss most autobiographical work.• Authors frequently draw their portraits of characters from people they have known in real life. David Copperfield is regarded as strongly autobiographical. The scenes in Bleak House of interminable court cases and legal arguments reflect Dickenss experiences as law clerk and court reporter, and in particular his direct experience of the laws procedural delay during 1844 when he sued publishers in Chancery for breach of copyright. Dickenss father was sent to prison for debt, and this became a common theme in many of his books, with the detailed depiction of life in the Marshalsea prison in Little Dorrit resulting from Dickenss own experiences of the institution. Lucy Stroughill, a childhood sweetheart may have affected several of Dickenss portraits of girls such as Little Emly in David Copperfield and Lucie Manette in A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens may have drawn on his childhood experiences, but he was also ashamed of them and would not reveal that this was where he gathered his realistic accounts of squalor. Very few knew the details of his early life until six years after his death when John Forster published a biography on which Dickens had collaborated. Even figures based on real people can, at the same time, represent at the same time elements of the writers own personality. Though Skimpole brutally sends up Leigh Hunt, some critics have detected in his portrait features of Dickenss own character, which he sought to exorcise by self-parody. 7
  8. 8. OLIVER TWIST 8
  9. 9. Context• Oliver Twist opens with a bitter invective directed at the nineteenth-century English Poor Laws. These laws were a distorted manifestation of the Victorian middle class’s emphasis on the virtues of hard work. England in the 1830s was rapidly undergoing a transformation from an agricultural, rural economy to an urban, industrial nation. The growing middle class had achieved an economic influence equal to, if not greater than, that of the British aristocracy.• In the 1830s, the middle class clamored for a share of political power with the landed gentry, bringing about a restructuring of the voting system. Parliament passed the Reform Act, which granted the right to vote to previously disenfranchised middle-class citizens. The middle class was eager to gain social legitimacy. This desire gave rise to the Evangelical religious movement and inspired sweeping economic and political change. 9
  10. 10. Context• In the extremely stratified English class structure, the highest social class belonged to the “gentleman,” an aristocrat who did not have to work for his living. The middle class was stigmatized for having to work, and so, to alleviate the stigma attached to middle-class wealth, the middle class promoted work as a moral virtue. But the resulting moral value attached to work, along with the middle class’s insecurity about its own social legitimacy, led English society to subject the poor to hatred and cruelty. 10
  11. 11. Context• Many members of the middle class were anxious to be differentiated from the lower classes, and one way to do so was to stigmatizethe lower classes as lazy good-for- nothings. The middle class’s value system transformed earned wealth into a sign of moral virtue. Victorian society interpreted economic success as a sign that God favored the honest, moral virtue of the successful individual’s efforts, and, thus, interpreted the condition of poverty as a sign of the weakness of the poor individual. 11
  12. 12. Motifs• Disguised or Mistaken IdentitiesThe plot of Oliver Twist revolves around the various false identities that other characters imposeupon Oliver, often for the sake of advancing their own interests. Mr. Bumble and the otherworkhouse officials insist on portraying Oliver as something he is not—an ungrateful, immoralpauper. Monks does his best to conceal Oliver’s real identity so that Monks himself can claimOliver’s rightful inheritance. Characters also disguise their own identities when it serves themwell to do so. Nancy pretends to be Oliver’s middle-class sister in order to get him back toFagin, while Monks changes his name and poses as a common criminal rather than the heir hereally is. Scenes depicting the manipulation of clothing indicate how it plays an important partin the construction of various characters’ identities. Nancy dons new clothing to pass as amiddle-class girl, and Fagin strips Oliver of all his upper-class credibility when he takes fromhim the suit of clothes purchased by Brownlow. The novel’s resolution revolves around therevelation of the real identities of Oliver, Rose, and Monks. Only when every character’s identityis known with certainty does the story achieve real closure 12
  13. 13. Motifs• Hidden Family RelationshipsThe revelation of Oliver’s familial ties is among the novel’s most unlikely plot turns:Oliver is related to Brownlow, who was married to his father’s sister; to Rose, whois his aunt; and to Monks, who is his half-brother. The coincidences involved inthese facts are quite unbelievable and represent the novel’s rejection of realism infavor of fantasy. Oliver is at first believed to be an orphan without parents orrelatives, a position that would, in that time and place, almost certainly seal hisdoom. Yet, by the end of the novel, it is revealed that he has more relatives thanjust about anyone else in the novel. This reversal of his fortunes stronglyresembles the fulfillment of a naïve child’s wish. It also suggests the mysticalbinding power of family relationships. Brownlow and Rose take to Oliverimmediately, even though he is implicated in an attempted robbery of Rose’shouse, while Monks recognizes Oliver the instant he sees him on the street. Theinfluence of blood ties, it seems, can be felt even before anyone knows those tiesexist 13
  14. 14. Motifs• Oliver’s faceOliver’s face is singled out for special attention at multiplepoints in the novel. Mr. Sowerberry, Charley Bates, and TobyCrackit all comment on its particular appeal, and itsresemblance to the portrait of Agnes Fleming provides the firstclue to Oliver’s identity. The power of Oliver’s physiognomy,combined with the facts that Fagin is hideous and Rose isbeautiful, suggests that in the world of the novel, externalappearance usually gives a fair impression of a person’s innercharacter 14
  15. 15. Review andconclusion 15
  16. 16. Review• Oliver Twist is born into a life of poverty and misfortune in a workhouse in an unnamed town. Orphaned almost from his first breath by his mother’s death in childbirth and his father’s unexplained absence, Oliver is meagerly provided for under the terms of the Poor Law, and spends the first nine years of his life at a baby farm in the care of a woman named Mrs. Mann. Oliver is brought up with little food and few comforts.• Around the time of Olivers ninth birthday, Mr. Bumble, a parish beadle, removes Oliver from the baby farm and puts him to work picking oakum at the main workhouse. Oliver, who toils with very little food, remains in the workhouse for six months. One day, the desperately hungry boys decide to draw lots; the loser must ask for another portion of gruel. The task falls to Oliver, who at the next meal tremblingly comes forward, bowl in hand, and makes his famous request: "Please, sir, I want some more." 16
  17. 17. Review• A great uproar ensues. The board of well-fed gentlemen who administer the workhouse hypocritically offer five pounds to any person wishing to take on the boy as an apprentice. A brutal chimney sweep almost claims Oliver, however, when he begs despairingly not to be sent away with "that dreadful man", a kindly old magistrate refuses to sign the indentures. Later, Mr. Sowerberry, an undertaker employed by the parish, took Oliver into his service.• He treats Oliver better, and because of the boys sorrowful countenance, uses him as a mourner at children’s funerals. However, Mr. Sowerberry is in an unhappy marriage, and his wife takes an immediate dislike to Oliver — primarily because her husband seems to like him — and loses few opportunities to underfeed and mistreat him. He also suffers torment at the hands of Noah Claypole, an oafish but bullying fellow apprentice and "charity boy" who is jealous of Oliver’s promotion to mute, and Charlotte, the Sowerberrys maidservant, who is in love with Noah. 17
  18. 18. ReviewOne day, in an attempt to bait Oliver, Noah insults Oliversbiological mother, calling her "a regular right-down bad ‘un".Oliver flies into a rage, attacking and even beating the muchbigger boy. Mrs. Sowerberry takes Noah’s side, helps him tosubdue, punching, and beating Oliver, and later compels herhusband and Mr. Bumble, who has been sent for in the aftermathof the fight, into beating Oliver again. Once Oliver is sent to hisroom for the night, he does something that he hadnt done sincebabyhood — he breaks down and weeps. Alone that night, Oliverfinally decides to run away, and, "He remembered to have seenthe waggons, as they went out, toiling up the hill. He took thesame route," until a well-placed milestone sets his wanderingfeet towards London. 18
  19. 19. Psychology• Oliver Twist is probably not the most brilliantly delving psychological novel, but then its not supposed to be. Rather, Oliver Twist gives us an impression of the social situation at the time it was written, and is does so with a Hogarthian gusto. Mr. Bumble, the beadle, is an excellent example of Dickens broad characterization at work. Bumble is a overlarge, terrifying figure: a tin-pot Hitler, who is both frightening to the boys under his control, and also slightly pathetic in his need to maintain his power over them.• Fagin, too, is a wonderful example of Dickens ability to draw a caricature and place it in a story that moves quickly and always keeps our attention. Less the pantomime villain that is portrayed in a number of its adaptations, there is a streak of cruelty in Dickens Fagin, with a sly charisma that has makes him such a lasting archetype. 19
  20. 20. Importance of Oliver Twist• Equally, the importance of Oliver Twist as a crusading work of art (hoping to show the difficult circumstances with which the poor in Dickens’s time had to live) should not be underestimated. It is certainly an excellent work of art, but it is also a testament to the hopes for a better, more enlightened age.• A delightful story--peopled with larger than life, very human characters--Dickens Oliver Twist is a considerable achievement. Funny and incredibly sad, the novel is complete in all its aspects. Oliver Twist is a powerful indictment of the times in which the novel was written. 20
  21. 21. ConclusionThroughout the novel, Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens uses many of his strengths of description to make his point on the condition of the poor in London. Dickens is able to touch on topics such as the conditions of workhouses, prostitution, and burglary. On top of all these things he also delves into each individual character and is able to find clever ways of making their inner-workings clear by using dialogue and relating them to their surroundings. All while doing these things, he scolds the bad treatment of the often forgotten lower class. Yet he also tries to use certain characters to set examples of good morals and values like those found in Rose Maylie and Mr. Brownlow. Oliver was very fortunate to find these people, considering how awful his life could have turned out. 21
  22. 22. ConclusionThe charity and compassion that existed in these people‘s hearts allowed Oliver to be saved from a certain and lonely death. Dickens related very much to the sufferings of the poor and thus in this novel was determined to show how wretched it could make people like Bill Sikes and even Fagin. All these reasons combined make Oliver Twist very crucial in showing the modern world how much things have changed yet, have also stayed the same. For example, although pick-pocketing has become a thing of the past, burglary and prostitution still exist as detestable happenings in society. Charles Dickens expertly portrays life in the 1830‘s full of the good, bad, and ugly as they all strived to make it in a world that was unforgiving and cruel. 22
  23. 23. 23
  24. 24. Characters of the Plot1. Oliver Twist2. Fagin3. Nancy4. The Artful Dodger5. Charley Bates6. Bill Sikes7. Mr. Brownlow8. Mrs. Maylie9. Rose Maylie10. Harry Maylie11. Mr. Grimwig12. Mr. Losberne13. Mr. Bumble14. Mrs. Corney15. Edward Monks16. Agnes Fleming17. Mr. Leeford18. Monks’s Mother19. Noah Claypole20. Charlotte21. Mr. Fang 24
  25. 25. Oliver Twist The novel‘s protagonist. Oliver is an orphan born in aworkhouse, and Dickens uses his situation to criticize publicpolicy toward the poor in 1830s England. Oliver is between nineand twelve years old when the main action of the novel occurs.Though treated with cruelty and surrounded by coarseness formost of his life, he is a pious, innocent child, and his charmsdraw the attention of several wealthy benefactors. His trueidentity is the central mystery of the novel. 25
  26. 26. Fagin Fagin is pretty clearly a bad guy. For a long time, people thought that Fagin was based on a real guy who sold stolengoods (a.k.a. a "fence") named Ikey Solomon. Ikey Solomon happened to be Jewish, but the stereotype was there beforeSolomon or Fagin came along – the limited number of careers open to people of Jewish descent did indeed drive some Jewishpeople to illegal activity. The final chapter about Fagin shows how alienated Fagin was from the rest of society. And not just from society,but from the entire human race. He‘s in a crowded courtroom, and is surrounded "by a firmament all bright with beamingeyes". The crowd of people is reduced to this one feature: their "eyes‖. So Fagin is made into a spectacle, and his own senseof individual identity is totally squelched by their "inquisitive and eager eyes." In this scene, Fagin seems totally numb towhat is happening to him, and he ends up watching what goes on in the courtroom "as any idle spectator might have done― .And later, when he looks into the crowd, "in no one face could he read the faintest sympathy with him". So Fagin is out ofsympathy with the entire mob here – no one can identify with him. And that‘s not at all surprising, given how frequently he‘s cast as sub-human, or rat-like, or demon-like. Forexample, right after he finds out about Nancy‘s conversation with Rose and Mr. Brownlow, he "looked less like a man thansome hideous phantom‖, or when he‘s in prison, when his face looks "more like that of a snared beast than the face of aman". 26
  27. 27. Nancy A major concern of Oliver Twist is the question of whether a bad environment can irrevocably poison someone‘scharacter and soul. As the novel progresses, the character who best illustrates the contradictory issues brought up by thatquestion is Nancy. As a child of the streets, Nancy has been a thief and drinks to excess. The narrator‘s reference to her ―freeand agreeable . . . manners‖ indicates that she is a prostitute. She is immersed in the vices condemned by her society, but shealso commits perhaps the most noble act in the novel when she sacrifices her own life in order to protect Oliver. Nancy‘s moralcomplexity is unique among the major characters in Oliver Twist. The novel is full of characters who are all good and can barelycomprehend evil, such as Oliver, Rose, and Brownlow; and characters who are all evil and can barely comprehend good, suchas Fagin, Sikes, and Monks. Only Nancy comprehends and is capable of both good and evil. Her ultimate choice to do good at agreat personal cost is a strong argument in favor of the incorruptibility of basic goodness, no matter how many environmentalobstacles it may face. Nancy‘s love for Sikes exemplifies the moral ambiguity of her character. As she herself points out to Rose, devotionto a man can be ―a comfort and a pride‖ under the right circumstances. But for Nancy, such devotion is ―a new means ofviolence and suffering‖—indeed, her relationship with Sikes leads her to criminal acts for his sake and eventually to her owndemise. The same behavior, in different circumstances, can have very different consequences and moral significance. In muchof Oliver Twist, morality and nobility are black-and-white issues, but Nancy‘s character suggests that the boundary betweenvirtue and vice is not always clearly drawn. 27
  28. 28. The Artful Dodger The Artful Dodger is one of the most famous and memorable characters in the novel. TheDodger‘s real name is Jack Dawkins. He provides comic relief in part because of his anti-establishment,devil-may-care attitude, but also because of the odd juxtapositions of opposites that he provides. He can‘tbe more than twelve, but he acts like a full-grown man, and even wears men‘s clothes (with the sleevesrolled way up). He talks and walks like a man, and the contrast between his attitude and his size is prettyfunny. He also is one of the main "canters" of the novel – he speaks almost entirely in thieves‘ cant, whichgives Dickens a chance to show off what he knows, and gives the reader the titillating impression that he orshe is glimpsing some authentic view of the criminal underworld. Some critics think that the Artful Dodger is based on the historical robber and prison-breaker, JackSheppard. It‘s possible, especially given that Dickens‘s friend William Harrison Ainsworth was writing anovel about Jack Sheppard at the same time that Dickens was working on Oliver Twist. 28
  29. 29. Charley Bates Charley Bates serves the same role as the Dodger – comic relief – butin a slightly different way. The Dodger is funny because he‘s so knowing,and knows too much for his age, so that the contrast creates the comedy.Charley is just his dumb sidekick. He thinks everything is hilarious, andthat crime is just one long joke against the system. That is, until Sikesmurders Nancy. You could say that Charley is the one character in thenovel that undergoes a major change: after the murder, Charley decides thatcrime isn‘t actually so funny after all, and goes straight. In the finalchapter, Dickens tells us that Charley became a farm hand and was prettyhappy with a country life. 29
  30. 30. Bill Sikes Sikes is brave and strong, for sure, and he‘s a straight shooter. He doesn‘t like it when Fagintalks around the point or tries to cover things up. He‘s no liar, whatever else he might be. So,reluctantly, we have to admit that Sikes has a few admirable qualities. But he‘s also stubborn,distrustful, and has what one might call some anger management issues. He is also a brutal professional burglar brought up in Fagin‘s gang. Sikes is Nancys pimpand lover, and he treats both her and his dog Bull‘s-eye with an odd combination of cruelty andgrudging affection. His murder of Nancy is the most heinous of the many crimes that occur in thenovel. Dickens got the idea for such a character from a historical criminal named James Sikes (a.k.a."Hell and Fury") who lived (and was hanged) in the 1720s – a period of criminal history thatDickens was particularly interested in. 30
  31. 31. Mr. Brownlow Mr. Brownlow is Oliver‘s first friend and mentor. He‘s had a rough life – he wasgoing to marry his best friend‘s sister, but she died on the morning of their wedding day.And then his best friend died far from home, too. So one would think that Mr. Brownlowwould be a bitter, cynical old man, but he‘s not. He still has faith in people. He‘s kind of abook worm – the first time we see him, he‘s so absorbed in reading a book at abookseller‘s stand in the street that he doesn‘t notice the Dodger and Charley trying to pickhis pocket. But he‘s no wimp, either. When Mr. Fang, the magistrate, insults him, hestands up for himself immediately. He‘s also a loyal friend, and dedicated to doing what‘sright. Generally, he‘s a stand-up guy. 31
  32. 32. Mrs. Maylie Mrs. Maylie is a very kind and wealthy woman. She apparently makes a habit of taking in questionable orphans, even though shealready had a son of her own. Once, when she was on a holiday in Wales, she saw a cute little girl who was being brought up by the villagersand, despite the stories that had been circulating about how this girl was bad news, Mrs. Maylie decided to take the girl in. Of course shenever regretted it, because Rose Maylie grows up to be the sweetest young lady in the world. Later, a little boy appears on her doorstep,wounded after having attempted to rob her house, and of course she takes him in, too – she even lies to the detectives who come to investigatethe break-in to protect the kid. If she had a taste for adopting orphans, that she‘d at least go for the ones who didn‘t seem to have criminal propensities, but no –Mrs. Maylie seems to like saving children who might otherwise be prone to crime. It‘s also weird that Mrs. Maylie keeps adopting childrenwho turn out to be from the same family – Rose, as it turns out, was the younger sister of Oliver‘s dead mother. Although an old lady, she‘s very firm and vigorous – she goes on long walks, and her posture is pretty amazing. And even whenRose is dying of the fever, Mrs. Maylie only loses her cool once – and once she dries her eyes, she‘s all business. She cares deeply for Roseand Oliver, but she‘s also very rational, and does what needs to be done. 32
  33. 33. Rose Maylie Rose is the sweetest, loveliest, most virtuous young lady ever. She‘s pretty much a stock Victorianheroine. She‘s self-sacrificing, loving, kind to animals and small children, and blond. She is occasionallyprone to fevers, but doesn‘t die of them. But Rose differs from those other heroines in some interesting ways: first of all, she‘s not aristocraticby birth. In fact, her birth is somewhat questionable. They think, at first, that she is illegitimate, and then laterthey realize that even though she isn‘t illegitimate, she still has a stain on her family honor (her sister gotpregnant without being married). Perhaps because of her own questionable background, Rose is able tosympathize with folks who are down-and-out in ways that other, more aristocratic, heroines might not. She‘sthe one who begs Mrs. Maylie to take Oliver in and protect him, and she‘s able to pity Nancy, rather thancondemn her. In response to Rose‘s sympathy, Nancy says, "if there were more like you, there would be fewerlike me!―. 33
  34. 34. Harry Maylie Harry doesn‘t actually appear all that much in the novel, but from what is able to gather, he‘s thetypical Victorian hero: young, attractive, active, devoted to his mother and lover, nice to children, goodwith horses, and blond. He shows up for the first time just as Rose is over the worst of her illness, and it islearnt that he‘s been in love with her for pretty much his entire adult life. His devoted adoration of RoseMaylie is pretty much his defining characteristic. The reason he isn‘t living with his mother and Rose at the beginning of the novel is because hewas staying with a rich uncle, who was planning out some kind of fancy political career for him, as anecessary preface to inheriting his fortune. But when Harry realizes that Rose can‘t or won‘t marrysomeone whose public life might expose her (and her questionable birth) to ridicule, Harry changes hisentire career path. He ends up becoming a minister in a little country church, marrying Rose and livinghappily ever after. The only other time we see Harry is when he‘s on horseback, egging on the crowd outside thehouse where Sikes is trying to escape. Harry takes an active interest in capturing Sikes and bringing him tojustice – partly out of a sense of what is due to Nancy, and partly, out of affection for Oliver. He‘s not acomplicated guy. 34
  35. 35. Mr. Grimwig Mr. Grimwig is a typical Dickens character: he is eccentric, and hiseccentricity takes the form of a frequently repeated verbal or physical tick.His favorite expression is, "I‘ll eat my head!" – and he repeats that phrase sooften, and so oddly, that that‘s pretty much all there is to his character. He‘sreducible to his own eccentric expression. He has other characteristics – he‘sstubborn, contrary, abrupt, hard on the outside, but marshmallow-y soft on theinside, and very fond of Rose. But he‘s memorable primarily as the "I‘ll eatmy head!" guy, and that‘s one of the striking things about how Dickens writesminor characters – they‘ll often be reducible to some odd or eccentricexpression or gesture. 35
  36. 36. Mr. Losberne Mr. Losberne is a country doctor and old family friend ofthe Maylies. He‘s unmarried and he‘s very attached to thatfamily, and actually moves to the country when they leaveChertsey because the neighborhood is too boring with themgone. He‘s friendly and gregarious, always ready to pity theunfortunate, but he‘s also abrupt and reckless, andoccasionally stubborn. No wonder he gets along so well withMr. Grimwig. 36
  37. 37. Mr. Bumble Mr. Bumble is the beadle in the town where Oliver is born. As beadle, he‘s responsible for running all of the "charitable" institutions inthe parish – including the baby farms and the workhouse. He also gets to wear a special cocked hat, of which he is very proud. If Mr. Grimwig isthe kind of one-sided character who can be reduced to an expression, Mr. Bumble can be reduced to his beadle hat. Mr. Bumble likes power, and he likes to use it. Frankly, he‘s kind of a sadist, but he‘s not without a few redeeming qualities. WhenOliver pours his heart out to him on the way to Mr. Sowerberry‘s, and says, "‗I feel as if I had been cut here, sir, and it was all bleeding away;‘and the child beat his hand upon his heart, and looked into his companion‘s face with tears of real agony", Mr. Bumble is actually moved. He doeshave a heart! But the trouble is, that he doesn‘t act on his pity – he seems to feel like it‘s a weakness, and he doesn‘t want to lose face. He seemsto think that he won‘t be respected if he shows pity to anyone. This is one of just a few instances in which Dickens seems to want us to see Mr.Bumble as a real character, and not just a one-sided meanie. Mr. Bumble‘s soft spot is what allows us, later on, to feel sorry for him (but only slightly). He marries Mrs. Corney for her money, andloses his post as the beadle to become the master of the workhouse. Little does he know that the workhouse can‘t have two masters, and Mrs.Corney (now Mrs. Bumble) is already it. She beats him and humiliates him, and we almost pity him – but then we‘re reminded how much he usedto enjoy beating and humiliating the paupers and orphans. At the end of the novel, Mr. and Mrs. Bumble are so reduced that they end up living atthe workhouse where they used to lord it over others. 37
  38. 38. Mrs. Corney Mrs. Corney is cautious, distrustful, cruel, and power-hungry. We first meet her whenshe‘s fixing herself tea in her snug little room on a blustery winter‘s day. The snugness of herlittle room is in sharp contrast to the bitterness of the rest of the workhouse, where the paupershave to live. She feels sorry for herself, though, despite the snugness, because she‘s a widow,and kind of lonely. When Mr. Bumble arrives to flirt with her and then to propose, Dickens keeps us fromfeeling at all sympathetic by satirizing her – he repeatedly refers to her as a "discreet matron,"meaning that she won‘t allow anything improper to happen with Mr. Bumble. But "discreet"also means that she won‘t commit to anything without knowing what she‘s getting into. She‘scertainly "discreet" in that sense. Dickens uses her to satirize the workhouse system that wasrun by people more interested in taking care of themselves than of the poor. 38
  39. 39. Edward Monks Edward Monks is the primary villain of the novel, in that he‘s the one who‘s really out to getOliver, but because he appears in so few scenes, he‘s listed lower than some of the arguably more "minor"characters. George Gissing, another Victorian novelist, argued that one "blemish" of Oliver Twist was"Monks, with his insufferable (often ludicrous) rant, and his absurd machinations". Monks "machinations"do certainly play a big role in the plot of Oliver Twist. Monks goes after Oliver for no reason other than pure malice. After all, Oliver‘s got no way ofknowing who his parents were, and even if he figured it out, he would have no way of knowing that therewas a will that would have left him some money. Monks mother had already burnt the will, and hadattempted to ruin Oliver‘s mother‘s little sister (Rose) for no reason other than spite. Sure, Monks father‘sattempt to cut him out of the will might have hurt Monks feelings. But after the will was burnt, he‘dcollected all the money. 39
  40. 40. Edward Monks Gissing‘s other criticism is that Monks rants too much. Maybe he‘s right – Monks doestend to go on a bit, and when he does, he works himself up into a frenzy. An interesting thing to note about Monks frenzies is that he‘s not just wild with hatred –when he has "fits," it‘s not because he‘s completely lost his self-control. Although Dickens nevernames the disease or disorder that causes those fits, most critics believe that Dickens intended todescribe symptoms of epilepsy. His frequent "fits" have, over time, left an imprint on his face,and not just from biting his lips. Mr. Brownlow says that Monks "evil passions, vice, andprofligacy festered till they found a vent in a hideous disease which has made your face an indexeven to your mind" (49.57). So Monks physical disease has made his face as distorted and uglyas his vice and crimes have made his mind. 40
  41. 41. Agnes Fleming Agnes gets the first and the last words of the novel, so even though she‘s only alive for about fiveminutes at the beginning, we figure she‘s actually pretty important. Agnes is Oliver‘s mother. A retired naval officer‘s daughter, she was a beautiful, loving woman. Oliver‘s face closely resembleshers. Agnes, as later learnt, is nineteen years old when her father‘s new friend (who is about thirty or so) falls inlove with her. She is young and has never been in love before, and she falls for him. He keeps saying that hecan‘t get married, but is mysterious as to the reason why. Her lover is called away to Italy, and dies there, andshe runs away from home to avoid shaming her father by having a child out of wedlock. After falling in lovewith and becoming pregnant by Mr. Edwin Leeford, she chooses to die anonymously in a workhouse ratherthan stain her family‘s reputation. And that‘s where the story picks up in the first chapter: she arrives at a workhouse, has her baby, anddies. 41
  42. 42. Mr. Leeford Monks’s mother Oliver and Monks‘s father, who An heiress who lived adies long before the events of the novel. decadent life and alienated herHe was an intelligent, high-minded man husband, Mr. Leeford. Monks‘swhose family forced him into anunhappy marriage with a wealthy mother destroyed Mr. Leeford‘swoman. He eventually separated from will, which left part of hishis wife and had an illicit love affair property to Oliver. Much ofwith Agnes Fleming. He intended to Monks‘s nastiness is presumablyflee the country with Agnes but died inherited from her.before he could do so. 42
  43. 43. Noah Claypole Noah‘s another typical minor Dickens character, in that he‘s grotesque, absurd, and exaggerated. He‘sskinny, lean, and eel-like, and has a taste for oysters and sneaking. Noah‘s a pretty fun character. He starts out the novel as an apprentice in Mr. Sowerberry‘s shop. He was acharity boy, and the other kids made fun of him. So as soon as Oliver arrives, Noah is pretty jazzed about havingsomeone even lower on the social ladder than he is. Finally, someone he can dump on! Dickens takes thiscircumstance to moralize about how everyone likes to stomp on the people below them: “This affords charming food for contemplation. It shows us what a beautiful thing human nature is, and howimpartially the same amiable qualities are developed in the finest lord and the dirtiest charity-boy.” Noah‘s obviously a source of comic relief and, like the Artful Dodger, the comedy comes partly fromcontrast: Noah‘s absurdly scrawny, and Charlotte is burly and tough; but Noah bosses her around, and she submitslike a lamb. Noah‘s awfully fond of power, but too cowardly to do anything but sneak around, spy on people, and ratthem out if he thinks it‘ll be good for him. 43
  44. 44. Charlotte Mr. FangThe Sowerberry‘s maid. The harsh, irrational, power-Charlotte becomes hungry magistrate whoromantically involved with presides over Oliver‘s trialNoah Claypole and follows for pick-pocketing.him about slavishly. 44
  45. 45. 45
  46. 46. Our own personal reaction to this Dickensian classic is that we really liked it. We must admit to being abit of a Dickens fan, and we love the way that he produces vast novels populated by such memorable characters.The story of the archetypal Dickensian orphan who manages to survive the evil plots of others to enjoy the placein society that he deserves is one that everybody can relate to, and it is certainly a gripping narrative as we fearOliver will be hung or captured or killed at various stages in the narrative. Having said that we like it, at the same time however it is not the best Dickens novel by a long stretch.When we think more closely about the story, there are a number of problems with it, in our opinion, or aspectsthat make it less challenging than a work like Great Expectations. Firstly, we would argue that the verygoodness of Oliver is problematic, as he remains innocent and angel-like in his goodness throughout the entirenovel, no matter what is done to him. The best example of this is of course when he pleads with Fagan to repentbefore his death at the end of the novel. This seems to me to be rather unrealistic. Secondly, based on this firstpoint, all of the characters with the exception of Nancy are either good or bad. Nancy is the only character that ispresented as occupying a space in the middle of these two extremes. Again, this points to a rather simplistic viewof characters, as in reality we all have good and bad elements. Apart from this quibbles, however, this novel isan excellent story that has become a classic. 46
  47. 47. Done ByAmruta M Hegde Class XI A KV No:-1, Mangalore 47