OLIVER TWIST – about the book
Oliver Twist, also known as The Parish Boy's Progress is the second novel by English author Charles Dickens, published in 1838.
The book was originally published in Bentley's Miscellany (an monthly English literature magazine) as a serial from February 1837 until April
Oliver Twist has been the subject of numerous film and television adaptations.
         Oliver Twist – a film adaptation, 1948
         Oliver! – a musical play, 1960
         Oliver! – the musical 1968, it won 5 Oscars
         The Adventures of Oliver Twist – an animated series (1997-1998)
         Oliver Twist – a mini-series, 1999
         Oliver Twist – a film adaptation, 2005 (directed by Roman Polański)
Oliver Twist is very popular in China, where its title is translated as Foggy City Orphan.
Other books by Dickens which have been made into movies include Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist and
A Christmas Carol

A short summary of Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist is born in a workhouse in a provincial town. His mother has been found very sick in the street, and she gives birth to Oliver just before
she dies. Oliver is raised under the care of Mrs. Mann and the beadle Mr. Bumble in the workhouse. When it falls to Oliver’s lot to ask for more food
on behalf of all the starving children in the workhouse, he is trashed, and then apprenticed to an undertaker, Mr. Sowerberry. Another apprentice
of Mr. Sowerberry’s, Noah Claypole insults Oliver’s dead mother and the small and frail Oliver attacks him. However, Oliver is punished severely,
and he runs away to London. Here he is picked up by Jack Dawkins or the Artful Dodger as he is called. The Artful Dodger is a member of the Jew
Fagin’s gang of boys. Fagin has trained the boys to become pickpockets. The Artful Dodger takes Oliver to Fagin’s den in the London slums, and
Oliver,      who     innocently     does       not   understand   that   he     is   among    criminals,   becomes      one     of   Fagin’s    boys.
When Oliver is sent out with The Artful Dodger and another boy on a pickpocket expedition Oliver is so shocked when he realizes what is going on
that he and not the two other boys are caught. Fortunately, the victim of the thieves, the old benevolent gentleman, Mr. Brownlow rescues Oliver
from arrest and brings him to his house, where the housekeeper, Mrs. Bedwin nurses him back to life after he had fallen sick, and for the first time
in his life he is happy.
However, with the help of the brutal murderer Bill Sikes and the prostitute Nancy Fagin kidnaps Oliver. Fagin is prompted to do this by the
mysterious Mr. Monks. Oliver is taken along on a burglary expedition in the country. The thieves are discovered in the house of Mrs. Maylie and
her adopted niece, Rose, and Oliver is shot and wounded. Sikes escapes. Rose and Mrs. Maylie nurse the wounded Oliver. When he tells them his
story they believe him, and he settles with them. While living with Rose and Mrs. Maylie Oliver one day sees Fagin and Monks looking at him in
through a window. Nancy discovers that Monks is plotting against Oliver for some reason, bribing Fagin to corrupt his innocence. Nancy also learns
that there is some kind of connection between Rose and Oliver; but after having told Rose’s adviser and friend Dr. Losberne about it on the steps of
London Bridge, she is discovered by Noah Claypole, who in the meantime has become a member of Fagin’s gang, and Sykes murders her. On his
frantic flight away from the crime Sykes accidentally and dramatically hangs himself. Fagin and the rest of the gang are arrested. Fagin is executed
after Oliver has visited him in the condemned cell in Newgate Prison. The Artful Dodger is transported after a court scene in which he eloquently
defends himself and his class.
Monks’ plot against Oliver is disclosed by Mr. Brownlow. Monks is Oliver’s half-brother seeking all of the inheritance for himself. Oliver’s father’s
will states that he will leave money to Oliver on the condition that his reputation is clean. Oliver’s dead mother and Rose were sisters. Monks
receives his share of the inheritance and goes away to America. He dies in prison there, and Oliver is adopted by Mr. Brownlow.

The main themes in Oliver Twist
      "Society and Class" - In Oliver Twist, Dickens often shows how superficial class structures really are – at the core, everyone’s really the
       same, regardless of the social class into which they’re born. Dickens also exposes how callous and uncaring Victorian society was – folks just
       ignored the plight of the less fortunate because they were so self-satisfied, and so convinced that the systems they had in place to take care of
       the poor were the best and most humane systems possible.
      "Poverty" - Dickens is very concerned in showing just how miserable the lower classes really were. With Oliver Twist, he doesn’t shy away
       from depicting the conditions of the poor in all their misery with gritty realism.
      Crime was a huge problem in London in the 1830s, when Dickens was writing the novel. Novels and plays about crime were hugely popular.
       Some novelists wrote about crime because they had a particular point to make about the source of criminal behavior, or possible solutions to
       the crime wave. Other novelists wrote about crime just because they knew it would sell. Dickens wanted to show how criminals really lived,
       in order to discourage poor people from turning to crime.
      Good versus Evil – Dickens shows the battle between good and evil, bad characters constantly try to manipulate the good ones, the theme
       was a popular conflict in Victorian times, the “Happy ending’ mans the good wins the battle against the evil.
      Alcohol abuse – alcohol was drunk in all social classes, mainly in Faggin’s surroundings
      Emotional and physical abuse of children – children are deprived of any kind of love and affection, they are insulted, scared, live in
       horrible conditions ‘‘a wretched home where one kind word or look had never lighted the gloom of his infant years‘‘(a description of the baby-
       farm), Dickens places a critical emphasis on violence against children, the children are given less food in workhouses and baby-farms,
       employers saw only the benefit earned with cheap child labour.

Indications of the Victorian economy in Oliver Twist
Production of the workhouses/means of the workhouses:
The workhouses operated on the principle that poverty was the consequence of laziness and that the dreadful conditions in the workhouse would
inspire the poor to better their own circumstances. Yet the economic situation of the Industrial Revolution made it impossible for many of the poor
to make their circumstances better, and the workhouses did not let the people have a chance to better their situations. Oliver was born into the
horrible conditions of the workhouse with little to eat and was given no opportunity to leave. The people simply worked and starved. An example of
this is when the boy at the workhouse said he would eat a little boy in his sleep if he wasn’t given more food. Although unlikely that he would
actually eat a human, it shows the extremes that the people do or think about doing because they are fed so little.
Class differences:
Poverty is a prominent theme in the novel. Oliver starts his life in the workhouses alongside the poorest people in town. However, throughout the
novel, he is helped by wealthier people, such as Mr. Brownlow and Miss Maylie. Mr. Brownlow takes him in after the attempted robbery and nurses
him back to health. Miss Maylie takes him in after Oliver was shot when trying to rob her house and again Oliver is nursed back to health. Oliver told
her his life story and she tries to protect him from Fagin and Monks. Oliver was helped and pitied by the wealthy.
Oliver is brought into the pick pocketing business by the Artful Dodger. He joins Fagin and Nancy and becomes associated with several other
criminals. Oliver is caught by the police after going out on a pick pocketing adventure. That event leads to Mr. Brownlow taking pity on Oliver.
Luckily Mr. Brownlow does not press charges and lets him into his house. Unfortunately, Oliver gets taken back into Fagin’s gang while on an errand
for Brownlow. Although a fundamentally good boy, Oliver still gets sucked into the criminal underworld.

Why was the book written?
The economic conditions portrayed in Oliver Twist were designed to shock readers, and change the terrible conditions of the poor working class.
Due to the large number of people that read the book, the message was undoubtedly delivered to many citizens with the ability to help. While the
book might not have directly changed economic policy within England, it inspired many people to give to charities and other organizations that
could help the poor.
In the mid 1800s, there existed a huge divide between the rich and the poor. The wealthy were essentially free to do as they wished, while the poor
were subjected to the harsh Poor Law Amendment passed in 1834. Paupers were forced to work in Parish workhouses with horrible conditions and
even more horrible food. The poor were looked down upon as second class citizens with few rights. Because they didn’t want to subject themselves
to workhouse conditions, the poor would often choose a life of crime on the streets, where some would eventually starve to death.
Seeing these mistreatments, Dickens was inspired to write Oliver Twist. Oliver himself experienced the harsh workhouse conditions; he was given
so little food and was forced to beg for more out of fear of being eaten by an older boy. Through Oliver's escape to London and his shelter by the
thief Fagin, Dickens portrayed the horrors of the seedy underbelly of London society in which many paupers were forced to participate. (Another
character in Oliver Twist exemplary of Victorian economic conditions is Mr. Brownlow, who's large amounts of wealth enabled him to believe he
could control the magistrate and free Oliver. However, the magistrates negative view of paupers, and therefore Oliver, prevented Oliver from being
freed until the owner of the bookshop testified that Oliver had not stolen Mr. Browlow's handkerchief.)

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