Set in Victorian London, this is a tale of a spirited young innocent's unwilling but inevitable recruitment into a scabrous gang of thieves. Masterminded by the loathsome Fagin, the underworld crew features some of Dickens' most memorable characters, including the vicious Bill Sikes, gentle Nancy, and the juvenile pickpocket known as the Artful Dodger. (From feedbooks.com)
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Charles Dickens is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. "Oliver Twist", Dickens' second novel, was initially published in monthly installments. It is an example of a social novel, or social protest novel, as it draws attention to social problems of the period such as poverty and child labor.
In England and Wales, a workhouse was a place where those who were unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment. As you read, note Dickens' view of workhouses. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the change of blanket affect Oliver's fate?
The narrator describes conditions in the workhouses which are a result of the Poor Law Amendment Act that was passed in response to complaints that taxes for the support of the poor were too high. It made it difficult for the poor to receive “out-of-door relief” for their immediate needs and replaced that kind of support with the centralized, institutionalized system of the punitive workhouse.
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What does Mr. Bumble's speech suggest about him?
Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal sense. The video below will help you understand how writers use symbolism. Pay attention to the meanings of names throughout this text. (This annotation contains a video)
When describing the workhouses, the narrator's tone is
How does the master respond when Oliver asks for more food? (This annotation contains an image)
In this sentence, an imprecation is a
The narrator gives you many details about Mr. Gamfield. This is called characterization. Characterization is a literary technique used in literature to highlight and explain the details about a character in a story.
What do you learn about Mr. Gambit from the narrator's description?
Why does Mr. Bumble threaten Oliver?
What do we learn about the magistrate from his assessment of Mr. Gamfield?
What does the second gentleman's comment suggest?
The narrator gives a detailed description of Mr. Sowerberry's physical appearance and attire. (This annotation contains an image)
Mr. Beadle refers to Oliver as a "millstone." Compare his attitude to that of Jesus from the Bible in Mark 9:42 (below)."If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea."
What does the phrase 'upon liking' mean?
Mrs. Sowerberry complains about the cost of caring for parish children. View the video on emerging themes. What theme is suggested by her comments? (This annotation contains a video)
Referring to Oliver as "the boy" emphasizes
What do we learn about Mr. Claypole from his appearance?
What does Mr. Sowerberry notice about Oliver's face?
What attitude does Mr. Bumble have towards the poor?
What does the man's reaction to his wife's death indicate about the poor?
Mr. Bumble, the clerk, and the clergyman keep the family of the poor deceased woman waiting at the graveside for more than an hour. Their nonchalance reflects their attitude towards the poor.
A hat-band is a decorative ribbon encircling a hat, held in position above the brim. The image shows how Oliver may have been dressed. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Oliver attack Noah?
Why does Noah twist and writhe his body when he sees Mr. Bumble?
Oliver's defense of his mother indicates that
Oliver runs away to escape the harsh treatment he receives. Young Dick gives Oliver his blessing. Why is Dick's blessing so touching?
Why do the outside passengers on the stage say that Oliver is a lazy dog?
What do you notice about the dialect of the young boy who approaches Oliver?
The events of the novel are presented from the vantage point, or point of view, of the narrator. The video below explains point of view and cultural perspective. (This annotation contains a video)
The cultural perspective of this novel is
Dickens refers to Fagin as "The Jew" and other negative Jewish stereotypes that were accepted during the Victorian period. Victorians viewed Jews as greedy gold worshippers.
Who are the "clever dogs" that Fagin mentions?
What does the Dodger's name suggest about his character?
Oliver does not understand why Fagin asks him to pretend to pick his pocket. This reflects Oliver's
Oliver is eager to join the Dodger and Charley Bates in their work. (This annotation contains an image)
The narrator's tone is
The narrator compares conditions in the jail to those at Newgate, a prison in London that housed prisoners sentenced to death.
Mr. Fang's name is an example of
The bookkeeper observes from Oliver's countenance that he is amazed when the boys rob Mr. Brownlow. Oliver's face is a recurring image, or motif, in the narrative. The video explains how motifs contribute to the development of the theme. (This annotation contains a video)
What brings tears to the old lady's eyes?
Why is Oliver attracted to the portrait hanging on the wall?
What observation does Mr. Brownlow make about the portrait?
How does Charley Bates react to Oliver's arrest?
Fagin is upset that Oliver is not with Charley Bates and the Dodger. It is clear that Oliver is the main character, or protagonist, of this narrative. Watch the video to understand the role of the protagonist and antagonist. Who are Oliver's antagonists? (This annotation contains a video)
What concerns Fagin about Oliver's arrest?
What plan does Fagin devise to discover Oliver's whereabouts?
Nancy's change of clothing is a(n)
Mrs. Bedwin is pleased with Oliver's appearance.
Why does Mr. Brownlow mention his sufferings to Oliver?
Why does Mr. Grimwig contradict Mr. Brownlow's assessment of Oliver?
Mrs. Bedwin's comment is an example of
What does Sikes's description suggest about him? (This annotation contains an image)
What does Sikes's response reveal about his feelings towards Fagin?
Nancy grabs Oliver as he is on his way to return the books. No one helps him because she convinces the crowd that he has run away from home and joined a band of thieves. What is ironic about her story?
Why is Nancy upset by the tolling of the clock?
Why is avaricious an appropriate description of Fagin?
Why does Nancy intervene when Bill Sikes threatens to hurt Oliver?
How does the reader know that there will be a shift in the setting of the narrative?
Mr. Bumble is more concerned about saving the parish money than the health of the children.
What effect does Dick's final request have on Mrs. Mann and Mr. Bumble?
Mr. Bumble portrays Oliver as treacherous and malicious. This is not the Oliver Mr. Brownlow knows. Mistaken identity is another motif of the novel.
Fagin's insistence that Oliver enter a life of crime goes against Oliver's nature and creates conflict. Conflict is a literary element that involves a struggle between two opposing forces, usually a protagonist and an antagonist. The video will help you understand two different types of conflict. (This annotation contains a video)
Fagin and the boys are Oliver's
Oliver finds it difficult to understand the conversation of the Dodger and Mr. Chitling. This indicates that
Fagin is comfortable in the narrow, dark alleys. What does this suggest about his character?
How does Toby Crackit get information about the house he and Sikes are planning to rob?
How will Sikes get Oliver to help him with the robbery?
Why does Fagin have Nancy bring Oliver to Bill Sikes?
Oliver's reaction to reading the book Fagin gives him shows that
What does Oliver learn from Nancy's brief conversation?
Why does Nancy rephrase Bill Sikes's threat?
The streets of the neighborhood Bill Sikes and Oliver walk through are filthy. Sikes threatens Oliver and forces him to accompany him. The video shows the conditions of child labor in Victorian England. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Oliver's plight compare with that of children of the Victorian period?
Oliver thinks that Sikes plans to kill him.
Why does Toby think that Oliver is invaluable?
Oliver is horrified when he realizes what Sikes wants him to do. Despite the dreadful circumstances that he has endured throughout his life, Oliver is innately good.
What does Oliver plan to do when he enters the hallway?
Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Corney represent the middle class values of the period. They enjoy good food and a warm fire but consider them luxuries not required by the poor.
Mrs. Corney is upset because Mr. Bumble says he would drown a cat but is not upset by the conditions of the paupers in her care. This is an example of
What is ridiculed in this scene from the musical version of "Oliver"? (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Mrs. Corney go to the bedside of the sick woman?
Why does the matron lie to the old women about what she has been told?
Why do Bates and Dawkins tease Mr. Chitling?
How does Fagin react to the news about Oliver?
What purpose does the description of the setting serve?
What important information about Oliver does Fagin inadvertently reveal?
The description of the man that Fagin meets evokes a sense of
What interest does Monk have in Oliver?
Why does Mr. Bumble take an inventory of Mrs. Corney's possessions?
Mr. Bumble does not hide the fact that he is attracted by Mrs. Corney's material possessions. Mr. Bumble's proposal parodies a certain type of marriage. During the Victorian period many middle class marriages were merely economic arrangements.
How is Mr. Bumble's scolding of Charlotte and Mr. Claypole hypocritical?
The narrator helps the reader understand when the action shifts from one setting to another. This is part of the structure of a book. The video below will help you note ways that an author may structure a text. (This annotation contains a video)
In this chapter, the narrator takes the reader back to the night of the robbery. What do Sikes and Toby Crackit do with the injured Oliver?
Why doesn't Mr. Giles associate himself with the humbler servants?
In relating the details of the robbery, Mr. Giles makes himself seem brave. What does his hesitation to respond to the knock reveal about him?
How do Oliver's present surroundings differ from those of his recent past?
Why doesn't Mr. Giles tell Mrs. Maylie and Rose that the robber he shot is a boy?
What does Miss Rose understand about Oliver's plight?
When Oliver awakens, he relates his story to Mr. Losberne, Miss Rose, and Mrs. Maylie. What effect does his life story have upon the doctor?
How is the doctor able to discredit Mr. Giles and Brittles' story?
Why is the doctor nervous about Blathers and Duff speaking with Oliver?
What do the names of the two constables suggest about them?
Why does Miss Rose encourage Blathers and Duff to tell the story of Mr. Chickweed?
Why doesn't the constable arrest Oliver?
The way in which an author presents and defines a character is important to the character's development as explained in this video. How does Dickens present the characters in this text? (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Oliver want to visit Mr. Brownlow?
What does the countryside represent for Oliver?
What happens to shatter the peaceful mood of Oliver's country visit?
Oliver finds it difficult to believe that anyone as lovely and good as Rose could die. Mrs. Maylie calls his perspective childish.
What does Oliver realize when he witnesses the burial of a child?
Giles and Harry Maylie come to check on Rose's condition. Oliver informs them that she is out of danger.
Why doesn't Mrs. Maylie approve of a marriage between Harry and Rose?
How does Mr. Giles respond when he learns of Mrs. Maylie's reward for his gallantry during the attempted robbery?
What terrifies Oliver when he awakens from his half sleep?
Mr. Giles and Harry Maylie are unable to find any evidence to support Oliver's contention that Fagin and his companion were outside the window.
Why does Rose refuse Harry's proposal of marriage?
Rose is aware of the distinctions of the social classes in England. This video shows the differences between the lives of the wealthy and the poor. (This annotation contains a video)
What does Harry ask Oliver to do?
What does the loss of his uniform symbolize to Mr. Bumble?
Mr. Bumble and his new wife, Mrs. Corney, are having marital problems. The narrator uses humor to describe the couple's argument.
What is Mr. Bumble's greatest regret about his marriage?
A "harridan" is a
Mr. Bumble and his wife go to meet Mr. Monks in a questionable part of the city. This video explains mood and tone. How does the setting contribute to the mood of the narrative? (This annotation contains a video)
What motivates Mrs. Bumble?
Mr. Monks' interest in Oliver's birth and the midwife intensifies and complicates the plot.
What does Mr. Monks do with the packet?
Nancy nurses Bill Sikes back to health but is rewarded only with his curses and threats. When she faints from exhaustion, Fagin and his boys minister to her.
Sikes uses a(n) __________to describe his condition when he is ill.
Why does Nancy pretend that she is not interested in Fagin's meeting with Mr. Monks?
Nancy conceals the fact that she eavesdrops on Fagin's conversation with Mr. Monks. This action supports the theme of
Why do the hotel workers first refuse to take Nancy's message to Rose?
Nancy experiences turmoil, or conflict, when she meets Rose.
In her meeting with Rose, what conflict does Nancy face?
What conflict does Nancy's revelation about Oliver's situation create for Rose?
What do Mr. Grimwig and Mr. Brownlow argue about?
How do Mr. Grimwig and Mrs. Bedwin react to Oliver's return?
What do Mr. Brownlow, Mr. Losberne, and Rose hope to discover?
Noah and Charlotte's entrance into London coincides with Nancy's visit to Rose. Now the events begin to happen more quickly. This refers to the pacing of the text. Watch the video below to learn more about text pacing. (This annotation contains a video)
Fagin secretly watches Noah and Charlotte as they eat in the back room. What does he admire about Noah?
How does Fagin convince Mr. Claypole to join his group?
Mr. Claypole describes to Fagin the type of jobs he would like to do. What does this reveal about his character?
What does Fagin mean by the highlighted remark to Mr. Bolter?
Mr. Bolter's inability to understand Fagin's expression when he describes the Artful Dodger indicates that he is not yet a part of their world.
How will Mr. Bolter find out information about the Artful Dodger?
How does the Artful Dodger respond when he is taken before the magistrate?
What causes the change in Nancy's appearance and demeanor?
Sikes will not allow Nancy to leave the room and does not understand why she is so upset. Why does Nancy want to leave?
Fagin tells Nancy he is her friend while suggesting that she kill Sikes for his mistreatment of her. What does Nancy mean by the highlighted response to Fagin?
What assignment does Fagin give Noah?
You are probably sitting on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen when Nancy goes to meet Rose. This feeling refers to tension. The video below discusses the use of tension in a narrative. (This annotation contains a video)
What does "London Bridge" represent?
Why does Nancy refuse to turn on Fagin and the others?
Nancy's words are an example of
Noah tells Fagin the details of Nancy's conversation with Rose and Mr. Brownlow. What thoughts run through Fagin's mind?
What effect do Fagin's wild looks and frenzied actions produce?
How does Sikes respond to Nancy's pleas for mercy?
Sikes is overcome with guilt after he kills Nancy. He feels that everyone is watching him with suspicion.
Nancy's apparition represents
Why does Sikes try to kill his dog?
What ultimatum does Mr. Brownlow give Mr. Monks?
The truth about Oliver's identity begins to unfold as Mr. Brownlow talks with Mr. Monks.
What is the connection between Mr. Monks and Oliver?
Why does Mr. Brownlow hold Mr. Monks responsible for Nancy's murder?
Why is Jacob's Island a suitable hiding place for Toby and his associates?
Why are the men reluctant to let Sikes into the house?
Charley Bates calls Sikes a murderer and declares that he will turn him in. He calls out for help as the police and a mob approach the building.
Irony is often used to make a point as explained in the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
What is ironic about the deaths of Sikes and Bulls-eye?
Oliver has come full circle. He has returned to his native town where the true circumstances of his birth will be revealed.
Why is revealing Mr. Monks's real name important to the plot of the story?
What does Mr. Monks reveal about Rose? This chart will help you understand her family lineage. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the setting for this chapter?
What thoughts haunt Fagin as he sits in his cell?
What does Oliver's desire to pray with Fagin reveal about the boy?
The crowd awaiting Fagin's execution show little remorse for his death, just as Fagin had shown none for the men he had watched being executed.
This chapter serves as the ___________ of the narrative.
The movie trailer highlights major events in Oliver's life and will help you review the novel. (This annotation contains a video)