BOOK REVIEW: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Category: Oliver Twist
Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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Oliver Twist or Parish boy’s in progress is Charles Dickens second novel and was first published on 1837. I still admired this novel since I was grade 9 because the story centered on the orphan name Oliver Twist, he was born in a workhouse was sold into apprenticeship. I would like to make a book review about this classical novel. It also sheds light on how the author prospects the reality of society in the novel. The story took place in nineteenth century England during the Industrial Revolution.

Being a student, Charles Dickens shed light on the prevalent social issues. The issues include class differences, exploitation of the poor and child labor. The rich remained rich and snobbish, while the poor suffered from poverty. The society would determine the fate of the people. There were no scopes for the poor to raise and prosper.

They had to stay the way they were as they were looked down upon. The poor remained miserable, yet the rich would keep thriving. The writer also brought focus to a society that was patriarchal, where women were oppressed and in a lot of cases, treated like an object. In the book, the character of the young man, Oliver, represents the struggles in the neglected lives of children who don’t have a family, are orphaned and poor in a flawed society.

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The writer even brought attention to the immoral lives of the criminals and the criminal practices of the Victorian Era. This book review of Oliver Twist contains a summary of the plot as well as thoughts on the overall novel. Oliver twist was born in the workhouse and brought into this world by the parish surgeon.

The young woman, who had given birth to Oliver, rose feebly from pillow stretching out her hand towards the child. The surgeon deposited it in her arms. She kissed on his forehead; fell back and died. The young man grew up in the orphanage, Mr. Bumble, names the boy Oliver Twist. He took the young man away from the orphanage and put him to work. Where he was in the workhouse, his job was to pick and weave the oakum. Child labor was not uncommon back in that time, so it was not surprising to see him and other orphans working all day for the benefit of the ruling class with receiving little to no pay, extorted, overworked and starved.

Oliver was nine years of age at that time when he was sold to a coffin maker named Mr. Sowerberry as an apprentice by Mr. Bumble later on. Mrs. Sowerberry had a dominating and manipulative personality that Oliver wasn’t shown affection or care by here; even though he was a mere child, he was only seen as the house help.

He fled away after by Mr. Sowerberry had hit and punished him for getting into a fight with Noah Claypole who got jealous over Oliver as a new worker in funeral business. He decided to runaway to London with his bare foot. He sat crouching, with bleeding feet and covered with dust upon the door step. Hoping to get away from the miserable life he had lived till then.
After arriving in London, he met the ‘Artful Dodger’.

He happens to be part of a young boys’ pickpocket gang led by, Fagin, an aged criminal. Oliver’s trusting and innocent character turned his actions into dishonest; he was taken to Fagin by the pickpocket children. Fagin is a complex character; even though he’s a criminal, he empathizes and nurtures the young kids in stealing wallets while train and teach them to become expert pickpockets. He wasn’t portrayed as abusive towards children and he had a soft corner for the boy, Oliver.

Oliver stayed with the gang of pickpockets at their lair, believing that they make wallets and handkerchiefs not being aware of their criminal line of work. He learned that their real mission was to steal handkerchiefs when he went out with the ‘Artful Dodger’ and Charley Bates. From an old man named Mr. Bronlow, Bates and Dodger steal a handkerchief. When he noticed, however, young Oliver caught his eye and he suspected him of theft. Trying to run away out of fright, he got caught and taken to the magistrate.

But seeing his innocent face and nature, Mr. Brownlow doubted the fact that it was him who was the thief. The owner of the bookshop witnesses the incident of theft; he cleared the confusion as he explained that it wasn’t Oliver who was the thief. Mr. Brownlow took the child to his house and was under the care of Mrs. Bedwin as he fell sick in the courtroom. Oliver has a rapid recovery from the unexpected kindness from them.

Fagin is feared that Oliver might said the truth and disclose their wrongdoings to the police and he wanted Oliver back in his lair. So, when Oliver was sent on a duty to pay for the books, Nancy and Bill Sikes working alongside. Fagin put on a successful act to capture and bring Oliver’s back. The thieves took away the books, the five-pound note and took Oliver’s new clothes off. He tried to run away again calling for the police. Dodger and Fagin caught him. Nancy was the only female character with a different sense of righteousness that has sympathy to Oliver.

Involving Oliver in criminal activities, Sikes planned a burglary and threatened to take his life unless he cooperates. He was taken to a house and asked him to open the lock of the main door before being pushed into a small window to enter the house. The inhabitants of the house mistakenly shot Oliver as robbery and left him wounded.  The people of the house, Mrs. Maylie, took him into care and cured his wound.

Readers get some idea about Oliver’s identity when a mysterious man named Monks who’s criminally inclined appeard. He was later revealed to be Oliver’s half-brother. Monks plotted with Fagin to destroy Oliver’s reputation to inherit their father’s wealth. Nancy eavesdropped when Monks was explaining how he traced Oliver’s identity and decided to inform Oliver’s benefactors. The following day, Mr. Brownlow returned to London from a trip, when Oliver sees him and takes him to meet the Maylies.

Edward Leeford was the father of Monks and Oliver. Monk’s parents separated when he was child. His father fell in love with Agnes Flemming(Oliver’s mother) and had a relationship with a young woman. Later on, Mrs. Rose Maylie Flemming was revealed to be Agnes’ sister thus being Oliver’s aunt. Nancy became protective to Oliver, since they met at the London Bridge. She told everything to Mrs. Rose and Mr. Brownlow about Monks’ plan and gave them an idea on how to save Oliver from Fagin, Monks and Sikes’ hand.

Nancy did not realize that Fagin sent a spy after her because of her suspicious behavior. After Fagin disclosed whatever he heard to Sikes, believing that Nancy was a traitor, Sikes brutally beat her to death that very night in a fit of rage turning himself into a murderer. Sikes fled from London.

Later on, the news of Nancy’s murder spread across London and Sikes along with Fagin was “wanted” for their crimes. Sikes returned to London to steal money from Fagin and deciding to flee to France, where he accidentally hanged himself trying to get down from a rooftop as he was being chased by mad people at Nancy’s murder.

Fagin got arrested and sentenced to death by execution. Mr. Brownlow confronted Monks about his plot against Oliver and decided to give him a second chance. When asked, Oliver happily agrees to give Monks half of his inheritance. Monks misuses the money and dies in prison later.

Accompanied by Mr. Brownlow on an emotional scene, Oliver visits Fagin, who was lost in a world of his own fear of impending death on the eve of his hanging in New gate Prison. Oliver Twist was adopted by Mr. Brownlow and was given love and care as well as a promise to live a proper life. Dodger was convicted with a punishment of transportation to Australia, Charlie Bates became an honest citizen and Noah Claypole became a semi-professional police informer.

Many critics hold the opinion that the main character – Oliver Twist needed more development as he wasn’t very complex and lacked personality. He was portrayed as an innocent, incorruptible person who didn’t give in regardless of the situation he was found in. The other characters such as Fagin, Nancy, Mr. Brownlow, The Maylies, Monks and the, Bill Sykes seemed far more interesting to me than the main character.

The mild sarcastic tone of the writer about his own characters was noticeable and helped with the rather grim storyline. The workhouse portrayed the hypocrisy of the people in charge. Mr. Brownlow and the May lies portrayed the goodness in a flawed society. We got an insight on the lives of the criminals, the rich and the poor. Overall, this Oliver Twist novel review maintains that encompassed many genres in an attractive yet serious storyline.

I love this novel how Dickens uses the cruelty of the orphanage children that they have to work in order them to survive. They are taking advantage; cause of poverty that can result misbehavior and dishonest for the selfishness of Fagin. It portrays reality how does people in society treats between the upper and lower class for them to value your worth as a human in society that time.

Moral Values After the story shows how strong of an influence environment can have on a person’s life and how it is possible to overlook and overcome these influences. The wonderful writing complimented the storyline even though certain characters lacked depth and full development. Found types of moral values in “Oliver Twist” novel based on the sociological theory. There were several moral values that could see sociological approach in perspective from the novel.

Steadfastness means that our attitudes and aims are not changed From the novel, the researcher found out there were symbol perspective in the steadfastness in the novel. He believes that it is never too late to change our bad attitude become good personality. Hopes Sympathetic to others Sympathetic is the feeling of being sorry for somebody. It shows that we understand and care about the problems of the other people. It is an extension of empathic concern, or the perception, understanding, and reaction to the need of another human being. It is the act of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another.

Bravery is willing to face the difficulties. It is not doubtful in facing the danger because gives the strength to do the action which is considered doing right in front of the strong opponent. From the novel, the researcher found that the value from the bravery of the main character in conflict perspective in sociological approach “Oliver Twist” novel /this condition showed that the bravery of Oliver.

In this novel has sociological approach using conflict theory perspective that could found was Oliver Twist braves to ask more gruel to the master because he and the children of work Although at first he is so frightened but he struggles to do that action. The boards of the workhouse are so furious to him. However, one of him wants Oliver to be hung. In this difficult situation, Oliver Twist faces this problem bravely.

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BOOK REVIEW: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. (2020, Aug 21). Retrieved from

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