Author: Charles Dickens
9781853260124 | PB | pp. 373 | 2000 | Wordsworth Editions
The novel was the first of the author’s works to realistically depict the impoverished London underworld and to illustrate his belief that poverty leads to crime.
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The novel follows the journey of the titular character, Oliver Twist. Oliver, an orphan since birth, spends much of his childhood at a “child farm” (orphanage) with too many children and too little food. The farm is located roughly 70 miles outside London. One night, after being served his portion of gruel, Oliver asks for a second helping. This is unacceptable, and Oliver is sent to work as an apprentice to an undertaker. Eventually, after suffering repeated mistreatment, Oliver runs away and heads for London. He soon finds himself in the presence of the Artful Dodger, who tells him to stay at the house of an “old gentleman” (named Fagin) with a number of other boys. Oliver learns that these boys are trained pickpockets. On an outing, Oliver witnesses the boys take a handkerchief from Mr. Brownlow, an elderly man, which prompts Oliver to run away in fear and confusion. The elderly man mistakes Oliver’s behaviour for guilt and has him arrested. However, after learning more about Oliver, Mr. Brownlow realizes his mistake and offers to take care of him at his home.
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