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Home Middelbare School EN Uittreksels Uittreksel Charles Dickens - Oliver Twist

Uittreksel Charles Dickens - Oliver Twist

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Extracts English Literature
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Charles Dickens - Oliver Twist

Bentley, London (1849)


The title refers to Oliver Twist, whose life story is told in this novel.


Charles Dickens lived from 1812 to 1870. He was born near Portsmouth, but spent part of his youth in London. He had to work in a factory as a child, because his family was poor. He became a reporter with a newspaper. Sketches by Boz (1836) was his first published fiction. Next to Oliver Twist, his novels include David Copperfield and Great Expectations.


The literary period:

The Victorian Age (1830 to 1918).

The genre:

Oliver Twist is a social novel. It deals with the social abuses of Dickens' own time, such as workhouses, child labor, debtor's prison and poor housing.


Oliver Twist has just been born in a workhouse, when his mother dies. He is sold to the undertaker Sowerberry. He runs away after a fight with Noach, a charity boy, who helps the undertaker.

On his way to London he meets John Dawkins, "The Artful Dodger". He is brought to Fagin, a Jew and leader of a gang. Oliver doesn't know that his new friends are thieves until he goes out with them and sees them picking someone's pockets. He is accused of this but isn't found guilty.

He comes under the protection of Mr Brownlow. When he goes out he is kidnapped by the gang, because they think he will reveal many of their secrets. Also because Monks offered Fagin a reward to make a thief out of Oliver, he has to burgle the house of Mrs Maylie and Rose, together with Bill Sikes, but he is wounded and is looked after of by Mrs Maylie.

Nancy, one of the gang, reveals to Rose that Monks knows the secret of Oliver's identity. She tells Mr Brownlow that there is a special connection between Rose and Oliver. Nancy is found out and killed by Sikes, falls from a roof and is hanged on his flight. Fagin is hanged and the gang arrested.

Monks confesses that Oliver is his half brother and that he tried to ruin him so he couldn't inherite his due share of their father's property. Rose's sister was girl whom their father wanted to marry, (Oliver's mother) but he was forced to marry Monks' mother.

Monks emigrates and dies in prison. Mr Bumble an his wife end their days as paupers in the workhouse. Rose marries Harry Maylie. Oliver is adopted by Mr Brownlow and they live next door to the Maylies, forming a happy society.


The story takes place in Dickens' own time, the first half of the nineteenth century. It begins with a description of the day on which Oliver is born. At the end of the story, Oliver is about twelve years old. The story is told chronologically and the life of Oliver in the age between 9 and 12 years old is described more detailed than the years before.


The story takes place in London, in the orphan's house, the room of Fagin and in the streets of London.

Characters and relationships:

Oliver Twist:

An orphan, born in a workhouse.

Mr Bumble:

He is the master of the workhouse.


A Jew, and the leader of a gang of thieves.

Mr Brownlow:

He is a kind gentleman who takes care of Oliver.


A member of the gang, who helps Oliver, and is Bill Sikes' lover.

Mrs Maylie and Rose:

The owners of the house Oliver has broken into.




The main theme is a social criticism by Dickens on the conditions in his time.



Linguistic usage:

The style is easy readable, descriptive English. Apart from 'old' words the language used isn't difficult. The description of the surroundings and the events are very vivid.




The story is told by Charles Dickens who knows everything Oliver Twist is doing and thinking. He also comments on certain situations.


The book has 452 pages. It consists of 25 chapters. The chapters are titled.

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It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

Het is een wonder dat nieuwsgierigheid voormalig onderwijs overleeft.

Albert Einstein