What kind of man was Mr. Bumble?

Mr. Bumble in Oliver Twist is described as a pompous, cowardly bully, who is mean-spirited and quick to anger.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mr. Bumble, the parochial beadle, is introduced and described in Chapter 2 of Oliver Twist. He is a fat, hot-tempered man, with a very strong sense of his own dignity and importance. He is quick to notice any failure to acknowledge his status, and bullies anyone lower down the pecking order. Like many bullies, Mr. Bumble is also a coward, and is very obsequious in his manner to the master of the workhouse, and any other dignitaries with whom he comes into contact. Ironically, when he becomes master himself, he is unable to enjoy his power and prestige because he is afraid of his wife.

Alongside his pomposity and cowardice, Mr. Bumble is mean-spirited and spiteful. He takes pleasure in the oppressive nature of the workhouse regime, and the terror he inspires in the boys. He is not only grasping and stingy, but enjoys depriving others of comfort, even if doing so does not benefit him. He rebukes Mrs. Mann for giving the children "daffy," made with gin, not because it is bad for them to drink alcohol, but because it is a luxury. He also tells Mrs. Sowerberry that she has been feeding Oliver too plentifully, which is certainly not a fault of which he could be accused at the workhouse.

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial