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Free Study Guide-Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens-Online Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 11

Summary

The scene presents Oliver being led away by the police to the court at a place called Mutton Hill. A crowd follows him. A burly police officer questions Mr. Brownlow and then sends him to the magistrate. Oliver is taken to a cell and locked up.

Mr. Brownlow feels sorry for Oliver. He is haunted by the boy's face and tries to recollect where he has seen that face. When he is unable to trace the resemblance, he stops thinking about it. Suddenly he is roused from his trail of thoughts by the same burly officer and taken to meet the magistrate. As Mr. Brownlow faces Mr. Fang, Oliver stands inside a wooden pen on the right side.

The lean and surly magistrate starts interrogating Mr. Brownlow. He offends the respectable man with his foul language and harsh tongue. He asks the gentleman to identify Oliver. After ascertaining that the boy is the same one Mr. Brownlow had seen at the market street and having no more witnesses, Mr. Fang charges Oliver of the crime. He refuses to believe the words of the policeman who states that he had searched Oliver's pockets and found nothing. He also brushes aside Mr. Brownlow's subsequent statement that he had seen the boy running away but had not seen him picking his purse. He turns to Oliver to question him. When the boy fails to answer out of fear and exhaustion, the policeman speaks on behalf of the child. He mentions the boy's name as Tom White and informs Mr. Fang that he is an orphan. Oliver's request for a draught of water is turned down by the hard-hearted magistrate. Even when liar and orders the policeman to take him to his cell. However, before Oliver can be carried to his cell, a benign old man comes rushing in and stops them from punishing the boy. Brushing aside Mr. Fang's protests, he relates how he was a witness to the crime and how he had seen another boy picking the pocket of Mr. Brownlow. Oliver is thus proved innocent. Mr. Fang turns his wrath on Mr. Brownlow before dismissing the case.


Mr. Brownlow comes out to see the boy lying down unconscious on the pavement. He calls for a coach and carries Oliver into it. Then, along with the book-stall keeper, he leaves for his home.

Notes

This chapter brings to light the fact that good conquers evil. The innocent Oliver is trapped between the kind-hearted Mr. Brownlow and the notorious Mr. Fang. Even though Mr. Brownlow identifies Oliver as the boy who had run away from the scene of the crime, he takes pity on the boy and pleads for his well-being. On the other hand, Mr. Fang, the custodian of justice, curses Oliver when the boy faints and dubs him as a cheat. It is an ironical situation. The life of the helpless boy is condemned when a good samaritan enters the scene to rescue him. Oliver survives through the struggle once again.

CHAPTER 12

Summary

The beginning of the chapter shows Oliver traveling in a coach to Pentonville to the house of Mr. Brownlow, which is situated on a quiet street. In the peaceful atmosphere of this home and under the loving care of its household members, the boy recuperates slowly and steadily. He is moved by the affection showered on him by both Mrs. Bedwin and Mr. Brownlow.

When Oliver feels better, the doctor comes to examine him. He advises rest and proper nourishment for the boy. Thus under the canopy of love and care, Oliver regains strength. Mrs. Bedwin takes him down to her room. Here he sees a portrait of a beautiful woman. He is captivated by it and questions Mrs. Bedwin about it. The housekeeper is not able to give him a convincing reply.

One day when Mr. Brownlow comes to inquire about Oliver's health, his eyes too fall on the portrait of the beautiful woman. He notices the remarkable resemblance the woman bears to Oliver. He is wonder-struck.

The scene now shifts to the streets of London from where the Artful Dodger and Master Bates make their escape. While Dodger looks anxious, Bates is amused at the turn of events. Thus contemplating the adventures of the day, they reach the house of Fagin. As soon as they enter the lodgings, Fagin questions them about their missing companion.

Notes

The steady progress of Oliver's health is reflected in the slow movement of action in the scene which gradually quickens its pace towards the end. Oliver's recovery under the care of the loving couple signifies how a lonely orphan can bloom into a healthy child with affection and security. Oliver looks happy and contented in his new surroundings, while Dodger and Bates look worried, fearing to face the wrath of Fagin. This chapter is important as it hints at the secret past of Oliver. It creates curiosity in the minds of the readers to know more about the beautiful woman of the portrait.

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