Structure

The structure of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist is largely chronological, following the life of the central character Oliver from his birth in a workhouse to the point at which his background is revealed and he is able to live a happy and safe childhood. 

Although the narrative mostly follows Oliver, it sometimes switches to following other characters, which sometimes interrupts the chronological order. For example, after Bill Sikes’ attempted robbery of Mrs Maylie’s house fails, the narrative jumps forwards a few days to Mr Bumble’s visit to Mrs Corney, and then to when another thief visits Fagin. The thief then explains what happened through a flashback:

‘Bill had him on his back, and scudded like the wind. We stopped to take him between us; his head hung down, and he was cold. They were close upon our heels; every man for himself, and each from the gallows! We parted company, and left the youngster lying in a ditch. Alive or dead, that’s all I know about him.’ (Chapter 25, 89%)

The narrative then follows Fagin as he searches for Monks, before returning to Mr Bumble. Eventually, three chapters later, the narrative goes back to Bill Sikes and Oliver at the moment of the robbery: “he rested the body of the wounded boy across his bended knee; and turned his head, for an instant, to look back at his pursuers.” (Chapter 28, 0%)

The novel is divided into ...

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