Oliver Twist Summary and Analysis
Rose tries to decide upon the best thing to do with the information she has been given. She does not think she should tell Mr. Losberne because of his impetuosity, and she doesn’t think that she should tell Mrs. Maylie, because her first reaction will be to tell Mr. Losberne. After a difficult night, she decides to go to Harry with the information. As she prepares to write a letter to Harry, Oliver comes rushing in, and says he has seen Mr. Brownlow. Oliver did not have the opportunity to speak to him, but he now has his address, and wants to go to see him immediately.
Rose goes with him, and has Oliver wait in the coach while she goes in to talk to Mr. Brownlow. Mr. Grimwig is there as well, and she tells them that she is a friend of Oliver’s. Both men are shocked, and Mr. Brownlow asks for evidence that he is as kind and good as she says he is. She tells him Oliver’s story, and as soon as he hears that Oliver is in the coach right outside, he runs out to him. They both return to the study, and Mr. Brownlow calls for Mrs. Bedwin, who is delighted to see Oliver.
In another room, Rose tells Mr. Brownlow the story that Nancy told her. Mr. Brownlow tells Mr. Losberne, who is indeed quite angry, but Mr. Brownlow is able to prevent him from doing anything stupid. Mr. Brownlow thinks they should wait until Sunday to see Nancy, and try to get from her as much information about Monks as they can, so that they can find him, and discover Oliver’s heritage. They all agree.
Noah Claypole and Charlotte walk together into London, running away from the Sowerberrys’, because Charlotte took money from their till to give to Noah. They come upon the Three Cripples, and decide that they will spend the night there. Inside there is only Barney, who says he will inquire whether they can sleep there tonight. He leads them to a back room, which is easy to spy on, and tells them that they can stay the night. Barney goes back to the front room right as Fagin comes in.
Barney warns him to be quiet because there are strangers in the next room, and hints that they might be Fagin’s kind of people. Fagin listens to Noah and Charlotte’s conversation, which is about Noah’s desire to be a wealthy thief, and then enters the back room. Fagin tells them that if they are interested in that line of business, then they are in the perfect pub for it. Fagin tells them his terms, and offers them jobs with him, which Noah accepts.
Fagin begins to train Noah, and in doing so tells him that his best boy, the artful Dodger, has just been arrested. Charley Bates comes in, and tells Fagin that they found the owner of the snuff box that the Dodger stole, and so he is going to be imprisoned. They want to check on Dodger in prison, so Fagin asks Noah to go, as they won’t recognize him at the police station. Noah is reluctant, but is eventually persuaded by his fear of Fagin. At the station, Noah finally sees someone matching the description he was given of the Dodger. The Dodger puts on quite a show, but is given a full sentence.
Nancy has trouble dealing with her guilt for betraying Sikes and Fagin—awful as they are, she does not want them to die by her hand. Because of her emotional turmoil, she cannot manage to act normal. On Sunday night, when the church bells strike eleven, Sikes and Fagin are talking, while Nancy is sitting silently. While they are in conversation, she tries to slip out, but they notice. When she tries to evade Sikes’s questions about where she is going, he refuses to let her leave. She orders and begs Sikes to let her go, and struggles against him until midnight, when she finally gives up.
Fagin and Sikes discuss what could have possibly come over her. Fagin, ready to leave, asks Nancy to show him down the stairs with a light. When they are alone together, he tells her that he is worried her behavior is a result of Sikes being so brutal to her, and he says that she has a friend in him, no matter what.
We find out that this is because Fagin has become convinced that Nancy has an attachment for a new man. This suits him, because such a man could be useful to him, and Sikes’s use has diminished because he knows too much. Fagin decides that he will try to convince Nancy to poison Sikes, and his words to her in the passage are the beginning of this attempt. To get more power to convince her, Fagin decides to find out who her new man is, so that he can blackmail her, knowing that Sikes would kill her if Fagin told him.
The next morning, Fagin waits for Noah to get up to have a talk with him. He asks Noah to follow Nancy, and tell Fagin everything that she does, and if he does it well, Fagin will give him a pound. The next Sunday, Noah finally gets his chance. Fagin takes him to The Three Cripples, where Noah gets a look at her face so that he can track her. He follows her as she leaves the Cripples.
Although loyalty as a virtue in and of itself is questioned throughout the text, in this section it becomes clear that when given to those who deserve it, it is a rare and important asset. Mr. Brownlow, who we had been led to believe had given up faith in Oliver after hearing about him from Mr. Bumble, is here shown to have never given up faith at all—even in the face of all evidence to the contrary, he did believe in Oliver’s goodness. This ability to have faith in Oliver, even after having been hurt so deeply in the past, reflects well both on Mr. Brownlow and on Oliver himself.
Contrastingly to the above, in this section Fagin’s true evil becomes clear for the first time. Throughout the novel, it has been clear that Fagin is motivated largely by greed and selfishness, but he still on some level cared for Oliver and Nancy, which made his character seem at least more complex, at most more forgivable. But in this section, what at first appears to be one of his kindest, most fatherly, least manipulative moments—when he tells Nancy that he is there for her, that she doesn’t need to let Sikes treat her so badly—turns out to be anything but.
Instead, Fagin is only trying to manipulate Nancy so that she will kill Sikes, so that Fagin won’t have to worry about Sikes, who knows too much for Fagin’s liking, anymore. Fagin, here, is purely motivated by self-interest and greed, but beyond even that, is distasteful in his unwillingness to do his own dirty work, a trait he has shown throughout, but never so dramatically. This also highlights Fagin’s hypocrisy, for he will feel utterly betrayed by Nancy’s actions later, even though she protects both Fagin and Sikes’s lives, while he here is completely prepared to try to cause Sikes’s death. His supposed loyalty, thus, is only to himself.
Noah Claypole’s reemergence in this section serves to complicate the depiction of the thieving underworld that Dickens has so far offered. Although almost all of the characters involved in this world have so far been depicted at least largely negatively, Noah adds a new dimension to the mix. His badness is comic, and does not seem as extreme as some other characters, but with his joining of Fagin’s group it becomes clear that he is selfish even for a thief, as well as cowardly and foolish.
This both serves to complicate our understanding of characters like the Dodger and Bates, who, though clearly flawed, are loyal to each other and to Fagin, and are at least hardworking and courageous in their thievery, as well as to underscore the dichotomy between London worldliness and suburban naivete. Like Mr. Bumble when compared to his London counterparts, Noah comes off as bumbling and comic even in his attempts at crime and badness.
Oliver Twist Essays and Related Content
- Oliver Twist: Major Themes
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- Charles Dickens: Biography
- Oliver Twist Summary
- About Oliver Twist
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- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 1-7
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 8-14
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 15-22
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 23-29
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 30-34
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 35-40
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 41-45
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 46-50
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 51-53
- The Real Workhouse
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