Oliver Twist Study Guide

Oliver Twist Study Guide

Original title:
Oliver Twist
Published 2003 by Penguin Books (first published 1838)
London, England
City of London, London, England(United Kingdom)
ISBN 0141439742 (ISBN13: 9780141439747)

“Oliver Twist” is no Tom Sawyer, but the idea is the same. It is a novel written by Charles Dickens at the end of the 19th century with a similar plot that has its unique particularities. The novel avoids romanticizing the life and motifs of criminal gangs in London, but it also highlights the cruelty in which the orphans lived in England. That’s why the novel’s second title is “The Parish Boy’s Progress”.

Oliver Twist is an orphan from England. He never knew his mother Agnes Fleming. His childhood was spent at young orphans' homes or adult workhouses and both places didn’t treat the boy well. From the early years, he is exploited and bullied, learning to make his way through the life.

At one point he escaped to London and there he met a professional criminal Fagin. Fagin trains children to steal for him. But at least he feeds the boys, so the children think he is caring for them. The environment in which the children find themselves makes them cold and harsh. Despite long training, it takes Oliver long time to get accustomed to the idea of stealing.

Oliver is a good-hearted boy and has a tendency to end up in good relationships with the families the gang tries to steal from. Both Mr. Brownlow and Mrs. Maylie grow fond of him. But the bad guys always find and recapture Oliver. When it turns out the there is actually an inheritance left for the boy, the hunt for his head intensifies. He finds out he has a half-brother, Monks, who tries to do harm for Oliver.

The book that seems like a child read at first actually has many deep meanings and concepts. It brings attention to the problems of child labor and shows how children are dragged into illegal activities against their will.

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