Oliver Twist Summary

A beloved classic set in the early 1800s, Oliver Twist begins with the titular character’s birth and his mother’s death post-labor in a workhouse in an unnamed location. Since Oliver’s father’s whereabouts are unknown, there is nowhere else for the child to be put than in a so-called farm for orphans. He is returned to the workhouse where he was born once he’s turned nine. Throughout his life, Oliver has faced horrific treatment and this doesn’t stop now at the workhouse. One time when Oliver tries to get more food, he is dismissed from the workhouse and sent off to work for a man who makes coffins as his apprentice as a punishment for having the audacity to request for more to eat. Another boy also working for Sowerberry, Noah Claypole, provokes Oliver into having a fight with him, which Oliver is then punished for. Oliver flees to London because of this.

When Oliver is near London, he meets a boy named John Dawkins, also known as The Artful Dodger, who takes him to the head of a group of criminals called Fagin. Here, Oliver is taught the so-called art of pickpocketing and is sent out with the Dodger and another boy called Charles Bates. The other two boys nick an old man’s pocket and he thinks Oliver is the one who did it, leading to his arrest. Oliver’s name is cleared once a bookseller who saw what had happened gives his statement to the police. Oliver faints and the old man who was the victim, Mr. Brownlow, takes him back to his house.

While Oliver is recuperating from the whole ordeal, Mr. Brownlow is astonished to notice the similarities in his features and those of a young woman in a painting he has. Meanwhile, Fagin is furious when he hears of Oliver being set free. He sends Nancy after Oliver and the group changes their place of operations.

A friend of Mr. Brownlow’s, Mr. Grimwig, doubts Oliver’s integrity. They send him out to run an errand to see if he’s really an honest boy. Oliver is then caught by the girl that was sent after him, Nancy, and another boy called Bill Sikes. The two take him back to their boss, Fagin, who then keeps Oliver captive for some time. All this while, a man from where Oliver was born called Bumble comes to visit Mr. Brownlow to answer an advertisement the latter put out about Oliver. Bumble makes Oliver seem like a very bad kid and taints Mr. Brownlow’s impression of him.

Fagin is intent on getting Oliver under his thumb by making him an accomplice in a major crime, so he makes Bill Sikes use Oliver in a theft they have been planning. Sikes and Toby Crackit take Oliver to the house that they are planning to rob.

They pull up Oliver through one of the windows of the home. The people of the house are woken up, and amongst the chaos, Oliver ends up getting shot at. The boys drag Oliver out but then end up leaving him in a ditch.

Back in the workhouse from the beginning of the story, an old woman named Sally who knew Oliver’s mother is dying. The matron, Mrs. Corney, comes to see the old woman before she dies at her request. After this Bumble and Mrs. Corney decide to get married.

Fagin is furious when Toby Crackit returns without Oliver. He asks a lot of questions about Sikes worryingly. After, he meets with someone called Monks who is disappointed at Fagin not being able to carry out his duty, which was to make Oliver into a criminal and ruin him.

Oliver comes to his senses and is able to walk to the house closest to him; the one which they wanted to rob. Mrs. Maylie, the owner of the house, takes Oliver in and nurses him to health with the doctor, Mr. Losberne. They send Oliver to a house in the country to stay in. This is where Rose, Mrs. Maylie’s niece is. Oliver comes across a nasty stranger; this person and Fagin then spy on Oliver together. Rose says no to Mrs. Maylie’s son, Harry’s proposal of marriage, but Harry is adamant to not take no for answer.

Monk, the man who Fagin had met before, goes to see the Bumbles and gets from Mrs. Bumble a locket that used to belong to Oliver’s late mother. Inside is a ring that has the word “Agnes” inscribed. Monk throws it into the river.

Meanwhile, Nancy has been nursing Sikes back to health. She drugs him so she can go meet Rose in secret. Nancy now tells Rose all the information she has gathered from spying on Fagin’s meetings with Monk twice. It turns out that Oliver is actually Monk’s brother, or half-brother, to be precise. They share the same father. Monk has a hatred towards Oliver which is why he wants to ruin him. Mr. Brownlow, who hasn’t been in the country for a while, returns and Rose shares all this information with him as well as Harry, Grimwig and Mr. Losberne.

Noah Claypole and Sowerberry’s servant, Charlotte, are hiding in London after Charlotte stole all the money from Sowerberry’s cash register. Fagin finds them and hires Noah to go find out more about the Dodger’s indictment from the police station using his skills as a pickpocket. Based on Charlotte’s suspicious behavior, Fagin decides to have someone follow her around. Nancy has another secret meeting with Rose, except this time Mr. Brownlow is present as well. Nancy now tells Mr. Brownlow how they can get a hold of Monks. Unbeknownst to them, Noah has heard the whole exchange and now returns to Fagin to tell him everything.

When Sikes gets back, Fagin tells him what he’s learned. This causes Sikes to kill Nancy in a fit of rage. He bludgeons her to death while she begs for her life. Sikes walks around for a day feeling guilty and scared that now Nancy’s ghost is following him.

Meanwhile, Mr. Brownlow has captured Monks and brought him to his house, resulting in a series of revelations. Monk’s father, Edwin Leeford, was Mr. Brownlow’s friend, and Mr. Brownlow was engaged to Leeford’s sister. When Leeford was still a young boy, he was forced to marry. The marriage resulted in one child, Monks, and the couple separated soon after. Later on, Leeford fell in love with and married Agnes Fleming, Oliver Twist’s mother. Leeford died in Rome but had left behind a picture of Agnes with Mr. Brownlow before he left.

Because of Oliver’s uncanny resemblance to the girl in the picture, Mr. Brownlow had hunted down Monks to get him back. Now Brownlow had proof of how Leeford’s will was destroyed, as well as how a necklace that would prove who Agnes was was disposed of. Monks makes a deal for immunity from his crimes and his role in the death of Nancy, in return, he would give Oliver what he was entitled in the original will.

Toby Crackit and Tom Chitling are hiding out in the city. Fagin and Noah Claypole get arrested, but Chitling and Bates evade the police. Bill Sikes dies by accidentally hanging himself while running from an angry mob after him for the death of Nancy, helped along by Charley Bates.

Oliver goes back to the unnamed town where he was born along with Mrs. Maylie, Rose, Mr. Losberne, Mr. Brownlow and also Monks. Monks does what he said he would, repeating what he has already put into writing about Oliver’s history and his attempts to ruin the boy’s life. In fact, the destroyed will of Edwin Leeford left almost everything to Agnes Fleming and the child she was expecting at the time of Leeford’s death, Oliver Twist. The Bumbles also come clean with their involvement in keeping the inheritance from Oliver, once Monk confesses.

It also turns out that Rose, although called Mrs. Maylie’s niece, is actually of a lower station. This was why she rejected Harry in the first place. Rose is really Agnes Fleming’s little sister, and therefore Oliver’s aunt. Harry then denounces his station just so he can go ahead with his marriage to Rose, to which she happily agrees.

Fagin receives a death sentence. Before his execution, he is visited by Oliver and Mr. Brownlow, and because of some bit of humanity still left in him, they are able to find out where some papers that would help Oliver immensely are located.

Claypole gets out of prison by turning on Fagin, he and Charlotte go on to live their lives together dishonestly. Charles Bates gives up his life of crime. The others in the criminal group Fagin led leave England. Oliver, on Mr. Brownlow’s advice, gives Monks half the fortune his father left him. Mr. Brownlow adopts Oliver and they live near the Maylies’ parsonage, where Harry is now a village parson, a man of lower station. The Bumbles end up working in the workhouse where Agnes died in childbirth.