Oliver Twist Flowchart

Oliver Twist

Dickens's childhood -- Warren's Blackening Factory

Death of Mary Hogarth -- Dickens's sister-in-law

Newgate fiction/Gothic fiction

18th century novel of the road/orphan

Bk. 1--Oliver's journey as a child

Bks. 2 and 3--Oliver and Maylies/Fagin and gang/Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Corney

Use of coincidence, melodrama (Newgate fiction)

The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834
Malthus -- Essay on the Principle of Population (1798).

Reduce Poor Rates by making workhouse worse than working/discourage desire for relief. (See handout on Poor Law/Notes in Penguin -- pg. 486, #2.)

Dickens's satire/criticism --

Workhouse/Mrs. Mann's Farm/Death of Little Dick/Oliver asks for more/Comments by Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Corney/Death of old Sally

Social conditions -- Oliver's trip with Sowerberry, Three Cripples/Jacob's Island

"Police" -- Blathers and Duff

Law -- Mr. Bumble -- "Law is an ass."

Romantic/Victorian Conceptions of the Child
Romantic -- Rousseau/Wordsworth -- natural innocence, part of nature, imagination, joy. Also fear and guilt -- Wordsworth's sublime -- for growth. Child is the father of the man.

Victorian -- Dickens -- child as parent -- literal interpretation of Wordsworth. Child as innately sinful and depraved (Evangelicalism/Calvinism). Victim of adult tyranny, fear, injustice, hunger.

Oliver -- principle of goodness surviving in the world/rely on Providence and help from others.

Criminal Gang/Fagin
Take what they want by force as an alternative to any help social institutions offer.

Energy and vitality in the novel/active

Compare to Oliver/Brownlow/Maylies

Fagin -- anti-Semitism? Depiction as devil/thief/crafty. Dickens tries to address criticism of this characterization in Our Mutual Friend (Riah).

Also, Oliver's comment about Jews in Bk. 1, Ch. 14. Barney -- Bk. 1, Ch. 15; Bk. 3, Ch. 5 Penguin -- see 496, #9/Intro.-- xxxviii.

How does Oliver find and secure a place in the world? How does he avoid corruption?

See the second full paragraph on pg. 451 (Ch. 53). Why doesn't Dickens leave Oliver in the city? Why the pastoral retreat with Mr. Brownlow?

Voice -- Ch. 1/Oliver tells his own story/others tell it for him//gaps and (mis)interpretation of facts/lack of facts/what constitutes facts.

Significance of parentage -- Oliver and Rose.

Importance of wills (Edwin Leeford) in establishing/maintaining identity.

Class -- marriage of Rose and Harry//Oliver's identity as middle class.

Victorian Novel
Looking outward -- social criticism/social manners. How does an individual live in society?

Moral/social realism -- didactic purpose.

Pastoral (Maylies/Brownlow)//Urban (Criminals).

Does the Victorian novel (e.g., OT) support middle class values and reinforce class distinctions??

Isn't Oliver incorruptible because he was always middle class?

Does the novel construct rules/boundaries for regulating ideas about gender and sexuality?

How does racial thinking (e.g., anti-Semitism) help construct notions of national (English) identity?

What about middle class fears of crime?

Nancy/Women in the Novel
Old Sally/Pauper Women
Nancy, Bet
Mrs. Mann/Mrs. Sowerberry/Mrs. Corney
Mrs. Bedwin/Mrs.Maylie
Rose Maylie (Fleming)

How does Dickens present female characters? Employs stereotypes? Depiction of Rose as an angel (Mary Hogarth)/Reaction of Mrs. Bedwin to Oliver/Wives as domineering/shrews.

Mrs. Corney -- asserts herself/some cunning dealing with Monks?

What about Nancy? Can't repent/depicted as an angel before her death. No place for her in this world; redemption in death? See Bk. 3, Chpts. 3, 8, 9.

Play Theory
Distinction between play and game

Fagin's pickpocket game -- uses a game to indoctrinate Oliver -- makes learning fun. Game's structure allows for playfulness and temporary loss of subjectivity

Criminal Gang -- game against middle-class society. Purpose, structure (rules). Game playing as an artificial construction of equal conditions. Illusion of structure and order.

Collapse of criminal gang.

Rules: No peaching/Fagin as number one. (Bk. 3, Ch. 6)

What happens when one tries to apply rules to everyday life? Is the criminal gang's game really "play."