Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist is a novel written by Charles Dickens, first published as a serial between 1837 and 1839. It is one of Dickens’ most famous works, and its story of hardship, criminality, and the struggle for a better life in Victorian-era England has resonated with readers for many generations.


number of pages: 528
literary movement: VICTORIAN
literary genre: SOCIAL NOVEL
1st edition: 1837
years of writing: 1836 - 1839


The novel’s titular character, Oliver Twist, is born in a workhouse in an unnamed town. His mother dies shortly after his birth, leaving Oliver to grow up in an environment of poverty and neglect. He spends his early years in a child farm under the cruel management of Mrs. Mann, before being transferred back to the workhouse. After daring to ask for more gruel during a meal, Oliver is apprenticed to an undertaker, Mr. Sowerberry, where he faces more ill-treatment.

Oliver runs away to London, where he is taken in by a group of juvenile pickpockets led by the elderly criminal Fagin. Here, he meets the Artful Dodger, Fagin’s best pickpocket, and is introduced to a life of crime. Despite the circumstances, Oliver maintains his innocence and goodness and resists becoming a thief.

The novel is known for its detailed portrayal of the dark and grimy underworld of London. Dickens doesn’t shy away from depicting the bleak reality of child labor, the workhouse conditions, and the criminal world. Characters like the brutal Bill Sikes and the tragic Nancy add to the stark portrayal of London’s criminal underbelly.

However, Oliver Twist is also a story of resilience and the search for family and belonging. Oliver’s lineage and his connection to a kind-hearted gentleman, Mr. Brownlow, introduce themes of identity and social class. The novel questions societal attitudes towards the poor and challenges the notion that virtue and vice are inherent in one’s social status.


Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist is the protagonist of the novel. He is an orphan who is raised in a workhouse and then runs away to London. He is a kind and innocent boy who is drawn into a life of crime but ultimately finds redemption.


Fagin is the leader of a gang of thieves in London. He is a cunning and manipulative man who uses Oliver to commit crimes. He is eventually hanged for his crimes.

The Artful Dodger

The Artful Dodger is one of Fagin’s most trusted pickpockets. He is a charming and charismatic boy who is able to talk his way out of trouble.

Bill Sikes

Bill Sikes is a violent and dangerous member of Fagin’s gang. He is a murderer who is eventually killed in a fall from a rooftop.


Nancy is a prostitute who works for Fagin. She is a kind and compassionate woman who tries to help Oliver escape from Fagin’s clutches. She is murdered by Bill Sikes.

Mr. Brownlow

Mr. Brownlow is a wealthy gentleman who takes Oliver in after he is rescued from Fagin’s gang. He is a kind and generous man who helps Oliver to find his way in the world.

Rose Maylie

Rose Maylie is a young woman who is Mr. Brownlow’s ward. She is kind and intelligent, and she falls in love with Oliver.

Mr. Bumble

Mr. Bumble is the beadle of the workhouse where Oliver is born. He is a pompous and self-righteous man who treats the paupers with cruelty.

Dr. Grimwig

Dr. Grimwig is a friend of Mr. Brownlow. He is a eccentric and sharp-witted man who helps Oliver to solve the mystery of his true identity.

These are just a few of the main characters in Oliver Twist. The novel also features a number of other memorable characters, including Mr. Monks, Mrs. Bedwin, and Mr. Sowerberry.

There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.



  • Oliver Twist is a young orphan who is raised in a workhouse.
  • He runs away from the workhouse and finds himself in London, where he is taken in by a gang of thieves led by Fagin.
  • Oliver refuses to participate in the gang’s criminal activities, and he is eventually rescued by Mr. Brownlow, a wealthy gentleman.
  • Oliver discovers that he has a wealthy relative, Mr. Monks, who is trying to prevent him from inheriting his fortune.
  • Oliver is kidnapped by Monks and his henchmen, but he is rescued by Nancy, a prostitute who is working for Fagin.
  • Nancy is murdered by Bill Sikes, one of Fagin’s gang members.
  • Oliver is reunited with Mr. Brownlow and his family, and he is eventually given his rightful inheritance.
  • Fagin is hanged for his crimes, and Sikes dies in a fall from a rooftop.
  • Oliver marries Rose Maylie, and they live happily ever after.
  • The novel explores themes of poverty, crime, and social injustice.

Throughout the narrative, Dickens highlights the systemic failures and hypocrisy of institutions, like the Poor Law, which were supposed to protect society’s most vulnerable individuals. The novel’s blend of social criticism, evocative characterization, and gripping narrative make it a pivotal work in Dickens’ repertoire and a classic of English literature.


Oliver Twist has been adapted into numerous films, including a 1948 film starring Alec Guinness and a 2005 film starring Barney Clark. The novel has also been adapted into several television miniseries and television movies.

  • Oliver Twist (1948) is a British film directed by David Lean. It stars Alec Guinness as Fagin, Robert Newton as Bill Sikes, and John Howard Davies as Oliver Twist. The film is set in London in the 1830s and follows the story of Oliver Twist, an orphan who is raised in a workhouse and then runs away to London. He is taken in by a gang of thieves led by Fagin, but he eventually escapes and finds redemption. The film was a critical and commercial success, and it is considered to be one of the best film adaptations of Oliver Twist.
  • Oliver Twist (2005) is a British-French-Czech film directed by Roman Polanski. It stars Barney Clark as Oliver Twist, Ben Kingsley as Fagin, and Jamie Foreman as Bill Sikes. The film is set in London in the 1830s and follows the story of Oliver Twist, an orphan who is raised in a workhouse and then runs away to London. He is taken in by a gang of thieves led by Fagin, but he eventually escapes and finds redemption. The film was a critical success, but it was not as commercially successful as the 1948 film.

Both films are faithful adaptations of the novel, but they each have their own unique interpretation. The 1948 film is a more traditional adaptation, while the 2005 film is a more dark and gritty adaptation. Both films are well-made and worth watching, but they offer different experiences for the viewer.

Oliver Twist (1948)
Oliver Twist (2005)



Charles Dickens, born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England, was a prolific author, social critic, and one of the most influential literary figures in history. His novels, filled with memorable characters and vivid portrayals of Victorian society, continue to resonate with readers worldwide. In this comprehensive article, we will examine the life of Charles Dickens, explore his most popular works, and reflect on his enduring literary legacy.


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