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Please give an analysis of the character of Oliver in Oliver Twist.

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aishu-dixit | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 4, 2011 at 9:42 AM via web

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Please give an analysis of the character of Oliver in Oliver Twist.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 4, 2011 at 8:41 PM (Answer #1)

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The overall emphasis concerning the character of Oliver is the way in which he is presented as a pure and innocent boy, who, in spite of the efforts of evil characters such as Fagin and Bill Sykes, remains unspotted and uncorrupted in an evil environment. In fact, some critics have argued that Oliver is just too good to be true, as he, from the very start of the novel, remains a static character, maintaining his characteristics of being sensitive, loyal, gentle and loving no matter what experiences he endures or what is done to him. In particular, he has a strong belief in the central goodness of every person, no matter their outward appearance and acts. This is of course expressed most clearly at the end of the novel, when Oliver goes to visit Fagin in his cell and begs him to become reconciled to his death. Note what he says in Chapter 52 to Fagin:

Let me say a prayer. Do! Let me say one prayer. Say only one, upon your knees, with me, and we will talk till morning.

He is presented as rather a naive and clueless character. He enjoys the "game" of seeing the Artful Dodger and his cronies practising stealing handkerchiefs from Fagin but has no sense of the more sinister meaning implicit in such activity until he faces the consequences of being involved, at least by association, in a crime. His goodness is shown by the way in which he is used and abused by so many characters during the course of the novel, but he never bears them any ill feeling. The best example of this is the way in which Oliver willingly shares his inheritance with Monks, even though Monks has spent his entire life trying to destroy Oliver and he has no legal right to receive anything.

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