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What is the main conflict (or conflicts) in "Oliver Twist"?

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kamkelms | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 21, 2009 at 11:52 AM via web

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What is the main conflict (or conflicts) in "Oliver Twist"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 21, 2009 at 4:48 PM (Answer #1)

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In "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens, the classical Good vs. Evil is the main conflict.  The good is represented by Oliver's pitiful mother who struggles to the workhouse to give birth to the unfortunate Oliver.  Mr. Brownlow and Rose Maylie are also good people who finally rescue Oliver permanently from the criminal life he has been forced to live. 

Exploited by the callous beadle, Mr. Bumble, Oliver runs away after being starved and beaten only to become exploited by a terrible force of evil, Fagin.  But, in the end, Mr. Bumble encounters poetic justice for his greed as he suffers in a marriage to a shrew of a woman, Mrs. Corney, who ignores the humanity of the children in the workhouse.  Her greed implicates both herself and Mr. Bumble in a crime as they have stolen valuables belonging to Agnes Fleming, Oliver's mother.

Finally, however, the evil forces are defeated as information on Fagin's whereabouts are given to Mr. Brownlow, who sets in motion the "wheels of justice."  The criminals are all punished, Rose Maylie's name is cleared, and Oliver goes to live with Mr. Brownlow.

Concomitant to this conflict of Good vs. Evil of characters, is the same conflict of forces in the society that Dickens portrays in "Oliver Twist."  Greatly concerned that society, in a sense, was a jail, the characters Oliver and the thieves are victims of the Poor Laws  and other social institutions that keep them or discourage them from productive work.  Dickens portrays them equally as deprived of food, warmth, and decent living conditions.  Society, represented by the likes of Mr. Bumble, seems bent on eradicating them.  Even sweet, innocent Dick, Oliver's friend, is viewed as a danger to society.  This poverty and suffering of the lower classes is in conflict to the wealthy and powerful who were unconcerned with the plight of the poor, another Good vs. Evil conflict.

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ankuanki | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted November 5, 2011 at 8:54 PM (Answer #2)

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lachicharita | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 14, 2012 at 9:14 PM (Answer #3)

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Be, be, be, my BFF

Cuz IDK what's coming next

And I be LMHO with the rest


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