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"Oliver Twist" Summary, Characters, Setting and Author

Summary of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Author:-

Charles Dickens is the writer of the story. He is a famous writer born in Portsmouth, England on 7 February 1812. As a child dickens had to work to provide for himself and his family which is why his stories mostly deal with young children and the hardships they face in life.

Setting:-

This story took place mostly in a small town in England.


Main Characters:-

1- Oliver Twist: Oliver is the protagonist of the story. He is a young helpless child who is always bullied and used by adults. Although Oliver faces a lot of hardships ,his purity remains intact throughout the story, his principals remain the same and his manners don`t change much. That`s why, throughout the story we can see Oliver as a symbol of purity and goodness within children, he provides an example of what children go through in a rotten environment and what they have to endure in order to keep their principals intact. Oliver is unique, unlike normal heroes within stories he doesn`t speak much and his actions although right remain passive and uncertain and speak of that of a scared child seeking help.

2- Nancy: A member of Fagin`s gang and Sikes’s lover, Nancy is a very contradictory character , we see her pitying Oliver but still helping Fagin and Sikes in their crimes, we see her helping Oliver at the end, but still thinking that she can`t leave her old life. Nancy is an example of a good human maturing under bad circumstances, her good soul never leaves her, but her bad deeds never leave her either. That`s why, in the end after finally doing a single good deed, Nancy who was still lost in a sea of bad deeds met her tragic end by the hands of her lover Sikes.

3- Fagin: The leader of a gang of thieves, Fagin is a character that is both smart and vicious, his position as a leader among the thieves is obviously because of his talents and skills. His intelligence gave him a certain level of respect within the group and helped him manage the group efficiently, but it still didn`t prevent him from getting arrested at the end. Fagin paid for his crimes in the end and his cunning nature didn`t help him in prison.


"Oliver Twist" Summary:-

Summary of Chapters 1 - 3:

Oliver Twist was an orphan little boy. No one knows his mother or even his father. All what people knew about his mother was that she was found in a very ill and weak condition on the street. Therefore, some people took her to a near workhouse to take care of her. Then, she gave birth to a little boy and then she died. The owner of the workhouse gave the child the name of Oliver Twist. The workhouse was run by a man called Mr. Bumble. The workhouse was funded by the state which was paying to clothe and feed each child. Yet, “Mr. Bumble got the money and the orphans got rags on their backs and slop in their bellies”. One day, Oliver asked Mr. Bumble for more food not for him but for the other hunger orphans. This made Mr. Bumble upset of Oliver and decided to put him in a dark room as a punishment. 

Then, Mr. Bumble thought that Oliver became so dangerous on the other orphans so he called Mr. Sowerberry, the local undertaker, to take Oliver to help him in his work. Indeed, he took Oliver and he thought that Oliver would be a grateful boy but he discovered that he was not. Oliver made many wrong things like he dared steal scraps from Mrs. Sowerberry’s dear dog and Punched Mr. Sowerberry’s other helper, Noah Claypole because he made fun of Oliver’s mother. After that, Oliver decided to travel to London. London was so close to the place he was in. It was about sixty-five miles away. It was an easy trip by coach and horses. Yet Oliver travelled to London using his foot. It was a very hard trip for a young, cold, and hungry boy like Oliver. 

Before reaching London, Oliver reached a village a mile from the city. There, Oliver was so hungry and felt very tired. He met the strangest boy Oliver had ever seen. This boy was Jack Dawkins, he was known by the name of Dodger. This boy fed Oliver and took him to a kind man called Fagin to work with him. This man was in a very dirty part of London that changed Oliver’s view of the beautifulness of London. The man, Fagin treated Oliver in a kind way. He appeared as a very poor man with a stained bathrobe and torn slippers. He gave Oliver sausages to eat and then he played a game with the children in his dirty room. Fagin dressed himself in a fancy suit and put wallets, watches, and silk handkerchiefs in his pockets. He walked around the room and made the children slip their hands in his pockets and took the things without made him felt. Then he made Oliver try and he succeeded and started to work with them.


Summary of Chapters 4 - 5:

In chapter 4, we start to know that Oliver has turned eleven years old. Hence, the board has decided to send him to the sea. They sent him to unhealthy port so he would get a chance to be killed or something. In order to check the availability on the ship, Mr. Bumble goes to inquire about the available cabin boy positions. On his way back, he meets Mr. Sowerberry, who came to weight two corpses. Indeed Mr. Bumble notes that the undertaker will definitely be able to make huge money. But Mr. Sowerberry thinks that it is because the board gives him extra permits not more. He told him that the woods and handles are expensive still, however, the coffins are smaller because people are thin and small these days.

On the other part of their talking, Mr. Bumble wonders if Mr. Sowerberry have any chance for Oliver. Right away, Mr. Sowerberry accepts to take Oliver in. Oliver is saved from going to the sea in the hard life and Mr. Bumble warns him not to ruin this magnificent opportunity because if he ever does, he will be sent to the sea right away. Hence, Oliver starts crying and this makes Mr. Bumble angry at him. Oliver begs not to deliver him to Mr. Sowerberry. Oliver is so desperate, heartbroken and lonely and he thinks that nobody loves him. Mr. Bumble stops his threat to beat the boy and asks him to dry his tears but he delivers Oliver to the undertaker. Mr. Bumble is not that hard-hearted but he is also unaffected with Oliver’s crying. He instead asked Oliver to be at ease and comforted him. However, he clears his throat and moves on. At least he does not hit him with his stick.

Nevertheless, Mrs. Sowerberry believes that investing in parish kids is not that good and probably a waste of time and money. She thinks that it costs more than what it earns. They exchanged some talks about Oliver thin body as if it was his fault to be thin. Mrs. Sowerberry asked Oliver who was very hungry to go to the basement where he found some scraps and pieces left of meat that the family dog refused to eat. The chapter closes with Oliver accepting that he has to work with the undertaker and the coffin business. He slept surrounded by empty coffins.


Summary of Chapters 7-9:

Chapter 7 starts with Noah runs quickly to find Mr. Bumble. He is crying with a loud voice so that his injuries that he received from fighting against Oliver appear worse than they already are. Mr. Bumble tells Mrs. Sowerberry that giving meat to Oliver is not suitable to his situation in life. It is against his spirit and it is not right. Oliver is still very angry. He do some kicks at the door. Mr. Sowerberry is back home. Sadly, he also hit Oliver and beat him very hard. After that, he locks his up once again. Oliver is very weak and tired. He is frightened and hopeless. His anger is gone now. He starts to cry very much. The next day, Oliver escaped from the Sowerberry family. On his way out of town, he comes across the workhouse. That place he used to work and live in. He also misses his old friend, Dick. They used to play in the yard. His friend, Dick swears that he won’t tell anybody about the flight of Oliver. He tell him a goodbye after all. 

In chapter 8, we learn that Oliver decides to go to London. It is a distance of 70 miles. He is hungry, cold, and tired. All this make him awake for the next full seven days. He stops by one village. In that village, he sees different signs to warn against beggars. Those who will beg for money or food will be sent to prison. At the end, Oliver reaches to a small town outside London. He fell down in the doorway because he was very tired. A boy same as his age came closer to check him. The boy’s name is Jack Dawkins. Jack looked like men although he is still a child. He wears like gentlemen. Jack Dawkins helped Oliver. He bought him lunch. He also offer Oliver an idea. Jack will take him to a gentleman in London. That gentleman will give home to Oliver without paying any money. Later on, Oliver knew Jack’s nickname. It is the Artful Dodger. He thought this because of Jack’s appearance like dodger. The actions of dodgers are immoral and bad. He wanted to cut his relationship with Jack once he delivers him to the gentleman in London. Jack took Oliver to a London Neighborhood. The dodger calls a secret word and they are let to enter the place. The dodger leaves Oliver in a dirty room with an old Jew called Fagin. They are both with other boys eating their supper. The little boys are smoking and drinking alcohol. Oliver ate his dinner and slept very deeply. 

Chapter 9 starts with Fagin showing up a box full of watches and jewelry. Oliver was looking at him. Fagin takes a bread knife. He asks Oliver if he was conscious an hour ago. Oliver replies with a No, he was not awake. Fagin is feeling better now he was not awake. Jack, the Artful Dodger is back with a new boy. The boy’s name is Charley Bates. Fagin wondered if they worked hardly that morning. The Dodger shows a two pocketbooks, Charley brings out four handkerchiefs. Fagin wanted to teach Oliver how to pick out marks of the handkerchiefs with the use of a needle. It is clear now to Oliver that he just joined a band of pickpockets. They will teach him bad things. Dodger and charley shows Oliver how to pick Fagin’s pockets. Bet and Nancy shows up for drinks. The narrator described them as remarkably free and agreeable. Fagin gives them some money and ordered them to get out. In the meantime, Oliver was asked to practice pickpocketing. Fagin asked him to take a handkerchief with a needle out of his pocket. Oliver did it and Fagin gave him a shilling while telling him “well done”.


Summary of Chapters 10-12:

Several days later in chapter 10, Fagin keeps Oliver inside locked to practice the art of pickpocketing. If Charley and the Dodger return home empty-handed, Fagin punishes them badly. Finally, Oliver is sent to work next to Charley and the dodger. In their first day together, Charley and the dodger asked Oliver to look at them and learn. They meet a gentleman who is very busy with reading at a bookshop. They quickly walk behind the gentleman’s back and steals his silk handkerchief. Oliver, at the end, knew the nature of Fagin’s work. Out of a sudden, the gentleman looks behind him to see Oliver running away. He thought that Oliver is the thief. Many people runs after Oliver to catch him. A Police officer catches Olive and pull him from his collar. Oliver is very sad and innocent. However, the gentleman asked the police officer not to hurt the boy and prefers to takes him to the police station. 

In chapter 11, Oliver is sent to the jail cell in the police station. The officers locks him waiting his appearance before the district magistrate, Mr. Fang. Mr. Brownlow, the robbed gentleman is unhappy with locking up Oliver and wanted to drop the charges. He saw innocence in Oliver’s face. Mr. Fang came and ordered Oliver three months of hard labor. Oliver faints right away in the courtroom. The Bookstore owner runs to Mr. Fang and tells him it was not Oliver’s crime. There was two other boys who robbed the gentleman. Oliver is finally out of jail and cleared his charges. Brownlow takes Oliver because he felt pity for him and his sickness. 

The final chapter opens with a sick Oliver. He has been sick with fever for almost 12 days. Mrs. Bedwin, the kind housekeeper of Mr. Brownlow, the gentleman, took a good care of Oliver when he was sick. Oliver wakes up to find her next to him. He felt her like his mother. Mrs. Bedwin cries after listening to Oliver’s heartbreaking story. Mrs. Bedwin carries Oliver downstairs. Once he is down, he watches a beautiful young woman’s portrait on the wall. It affected him so much. Mrs. Bedwin approaches Oliver to check his fever and he thanks her for her care and kindness. Mr. Brownlow is wondering why Oliver is starting at the young lady’s portrait that much. Oliver was suddenly faced by Mr. Brownlow. The surprise of Mr. Brownlow sudden appearance made Oliver faints again.


"Oliver Twist" Summary, Characters, Setting and Author
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