'Oliver Twist' Summary
Oliver Twist is born into a life of poverty and misfortune, raised in a workhouse in the fictional town of Mudfog, located 70 miles (110 km) north of London. He is orphaned by his father's mysterious absence and his mother Agnes' death in childbirth, welcomed only in the workhouse and robbed of her gold name locket. Oliver is meagerly provided for under the terms of the Poor Law and spends the first nine years of his life living at a baby farm in the 'care' of a woman named Mrs Mann, who embezzles much of the money entrusted to the baby farm by the parish. Oliver is brought up with little food and few comforts. Around the time of Oliver's ninth birthday, Mr Bumble, the parish beadle, removes Oliver from the baby farm and puts him to work picking and weaving oakum at the main workhouse. Oliver, who toils with very little food, remains in the workhouse for six months. One day, the desperately hungry boys decide to draw lots; the loser must ask for another portion of gruel. This task falls to Oliver himself, who at the next meal comes forward trembling, bowl in hand, and begs the master for gruel with his famous request: "Please, sir, I want some more".
A great uproar ensues. The board of well-fed gentlemen who administer the workhouse hypocritically offer £5 to any person wishing to take on the boy as an apprentice. Mr Gamfield, a brutal chimney sweep, almost claims Oliver. However, when Oliver begs despairingly not to be sent away with "that dreadful man", a kindly magistrate refuses to sign the indentures. Later, Mr Sowerberry, an undertaker employed by the parish, takes Oliver into his service. He treats Oliver better and, because of the boy's sorrowful countenance, uses him as a mourner at children's funerals. Mr Sowerberry is in an unhappy marriage, and his wife looks down on Oliver and misses few opportunities to underfeed and mistreat him. He also suffers torment at the hands of Noah Claypole, an oafish and bullying fellow apprentice and "charity boy" who is jealous of Oliver's promotion to mute, and Charlotte, the Sowerberrys' maidservant, who is in love with Noah.
Wanting to bait Oliver, Noah insults Oliver's mother, calling her "a regular right-down bad 'un". Enraged, Oliver assaults and even gets the better of the much bigger boy. However, Mrs Sowerberry takes Noah's side, helps him to subdue, punch, and beat Oliver, and later compels her husband and Mr Bumble, who has been sent for in the aftermath of the fight, to beat Oliver again. Once Oliver is sent to his room for the night he breaks down and weeps. The next day Oliver escapes from the Sowerberrys' house and later decides to run away to London to seek a better life.
A selection of famous tales selected and re-worked for a junior audience. Stories are taken from Arabian Nights, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels,...
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