Oliver Twist

Outer characterization

Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist follows the main character of the same name from his birth to when he is a boy of about 10. Despite growing up in a workhouse and living among criminals, Oliver looks sweet and innocent. Mrs Maylie and Rose are surprised by his appearance: “Upon it, in lieu of the dogged, black-visaged ruffian they had expected to behold, there lay a mere child: worn with pain and exhaustion, and sunk into a deep sleep.” (Chapter 30, 0%). Rose describes him as a “delicate boy” (Chapter 30, 11%), which suggests he is small, skinny, and weak, presumably from never getting enough to eat. 

Inner characterization

Oliver is naïve and innocent

Despite his difficult circumstances, Oliver never loses his childhood innocence. When he is drawn into Fagin’s gang, it does not occur to him that Fagin is training the boys to be thieves. When the Artful Dodger and Charley Bates arrive back at Fagin’s with several handkerchiefs and two wallets, Oliver believes Fagin’s pretense that the boys have made them:

‘You’d like to be able to make pocket-handkerchiefs as easy as Charley Bates, wouldn’t you, my dear?’ said the Jew.

‘Very much, indeed, if you’ll teach me sir,’ replied Oliver.

Master Bates saw something so exquisitely ludicrous in this reply, that he burst...

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