Oliver Twist Essay, Research Paper
Oliver Twist provides insight into the experience of the poor in 1830s England. Beneath the novel?s humor and dramatic plot runs an undertone of bitter criticism of the Victorian middle class’s attitudes toward the poor. Dickens’s Oliver Twist very vividly critisizes the legal system, workhouses, and middle class moral values and marriage practices of 1830s England.
Oliver Twist is born a sickly infant in a workhouse. His birth is attended by the parish surgeon and a drunken nurse. His mother kisses his forehead and dies, and the nurse announces that Oliver’s mother was found lying in the streets the night before. The surgeon notices that she is not wearing a wedding ring. Oliver is then placed into a very undesirable situation as a poor, homeless, helpless, motherless orphan. The first few years of his life offer nothing more than a life of many trails and little to no triumph. The entire story of Oliver Twist revolves around his mysterious identity. Who is Oliver Twist?
The complication Of Oliver?s life was that he didn?t know who he was and he had no place in society. From birth he was thrown from one bad situation into another. He worked in a workhouse where he was treated badly and barely feed. After working there for a while, still a child, he started work with and undertaker who also treated him badly and beat him spiractically. When Oliver ran away from the undertaker, he fell into the hands of some low life thieves, who tired to persuade him into a life of crime. ?Fagin assures him that he has won Oliver over in spirit, but he wants Oliver to take part in a serious crime in order to firmly seal the boy in his power?. (Dickens, Chp. 18)
Although temptation is all around him, Oliver does not want to participate in a life of crime. On his first day as a thief Oliver is arrested but not charged The person who accused him of stealing, Mr. Brownlow takes Oliver into his home and nurses him back to health because Oliver had fallen ill during the trail. While living with Mr. Brownlow, Oliver sees a picture of a young woman who has a very dramatic affect on him. ?A portrait of a young woman catches Oliver’s eye. It seems to affect him so much; that Mrs. Bedwin fears the emotion will wear him out?. (Dickens; chp.10)
Shortly after this incident Oliver is kidnapped by Nancy, a girl who works for Fagin, and forced to rob a house where he is shot by the owners of the house and left to die in a ditch by the men forcing him to rob the house. The day after he is shot he is taken in by the people who shot him and lives there safely until Fagin finds him again. As it turns out Fagin wasn?t the only person looking for Oliver, a man by the name of Monks is also looking for him. Monks is also Oliver?s brother but does not want his identity to be revealed in order to receive his father?s inheritance.
Nancy then tells Ms. Maylie a caretaker of the family where Oliver was staying his true identity. That very same night Nancy was beaten to death by Sites, the man she stayed with.
Meanwhile, Mr. Brownlow has captured Monks, whose real name is Edward Leeford. Brownlow was a good friend of his father, Mr. Leeford, who was a young man when his family forced him to marry a woman ten years older than he. The couple eventually separated, and Monks and his mother went to Paris. Leeford fell in love with a military man’s daughter who became pregnant with Oliver. Leeford left a portrait of his beloved in Brownlow’s care while he went to take possession of his inheritance. His wife, hearing of his good fortune, traveled with Monks to meet him there. However, Leeford took ill and died without a will, so his newfound fortune fell to his wife and son. Brownlow reports that he knows that Monks’s mother Leeford had no will because his wife had actually burned. Leeford’s wife and son then lived in the West Indies on their ill-gotten fortune–which is where Brownlow went to find Monks after Oliver was kidnapped, Oliver’s startling resemblance to the woman in the portrait, his mother, having bothered his conscience too much. Meanwhile, the search for Sikes continued. When an angry mob found Sikes he tried to escape and while doing so he hung himself.
Fagin is sentenced to death by hanging for being an accomplice to murder. Brownlow arranges for the remains of Monks’ property to be sold and the proceeds divided between Monks and Oliver. Monks travels to the New World where he squanders his share and turns to a life of vice for which he is arrested. He dies in a prison. Brownlow adopts Oliver as his son. And the story of Oliver Twist ends happily ever after.