Oliver Twist "The Law Is A Ass–a Idiot"
by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist book cover
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"The Law Is A Ass–a Idiot"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Near the end of this unhappy history of the early years of Oliver Twist, the mysteries about this orphan's parents and the villainy which has victimized him become resolved. Mr. Brownlow, whose kindness has made him Oliver's benefactor, brings together at Oliver's birth-place some of the people central to his story. Among them are Mr. and Mrs. Bumble; he was the parish officer who managed the workhouse where Oliver was born, and who, in his cruelty and pride, was responsible for much of the boy's early misery. Bumble and his wife had made away with a locket and a ring which had been taken from the corpse of Oliver's mother, perpetuating the riddle of his origin. For this act, Bumble is to be discharged from his office. He objects that it was his wife who committed the crime; and when Mr. Brownlow notes that in the sight of the law, a wife acts at her husband's orders, Bumble who has always been henpecked, retorts that if the law believes his wife obeys him, the law is a fool indeed.

". . . You were present on the occasion of the destruction of these trinkets, and indeed are the more guilty of the two, in the eye of the law; for the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction."
"If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is a ass–a idiot."