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Oliver Twist > Oliver Twist Ch 9-13

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message 1: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3444 comments Mod
Oliver Twist Chapters 9 - 10

Chapter 9

Hello, fellow Curiosities

I am going to combine chapters 9 and 10 into one entry. Each chapter will, however, be clearly identified separately. I found that some of the chapters in Oliver Twist are somewhat short and thus my commentary looked rather sparse. In this way, there will be fewer individual chapters stringing along. If it bothers anyone, let me know.

And so here we are in Fagin’s den with Oliver as he awakes to the smell of morning coffee. Oliver feigns he is still asleep and gets to see Fagin withdraw a small box from beneath the floorboards with expensive watches and jewelry inside. Fagin seems pleased with both the jewelry and the “Fine fellows” who have supplied it. A short conversation follows when Fagin learns that Oliver is awake. Did you notice how often Fagin calls Oliver “my dear.” This phrase is one of Dickens’s signature phrases, giving a character a verbal recognition key. Can you think of any other Dickens characters who have such a signature? Perhaps one from David Copperfield, for example?

The Dodger and Charley Bates arrive and the four have breakfast. For Oliver, coffee, hot rolls and ham would have been a feast compared to the workhouse. No wonder Oliver is initially taken with the thieves den. After breakfast, Oliver proves to be quite willing to join in on an apparent game of filching objects from Fagin. Fagin seems to approve of Oliver’s efforts and gives him a shilling. Oliver briefly meets two women by the names of Bet and Nancy. By the end of the chapter Oliver is certain that Fagin is a man he would like to please.

Thoughts

Oliver is young, naive, and impressionable. Compared to his early experiences with the likes of Bumble, Sowerberry, Gamfield and the workhouse, Fagin’s den with its smells of food, the camaraderie of The Dodger and Bates and the joy of play must seem magical. To what extent do you think Dickens has effectively created and contrasted these two locations?

Oliver is naive. How might this prove to be a problem for him as he adjusts to his new world?



Chapter 10

In this chapter we follow the early stages of Oliver as he continues to be acclimated to his new residence in London. Oliver is eager to please and is a quick study in how to remove identifying marks from handkerchiefs. Oliver also learns by watching the interactions of Fagin with The Dodger and Charley Bates that it is important to bring Fagin something every evening or you may go without supper. Soon, Oliver gets the chance to follow The Dodger and Bates on their rounds. Oliver notices that Charley Bates has “some very loose notions concerning the rights of property” and soon witnesses the duo steal a handkerchief from an elderly gentleman. Oliver runs and everyone assumes he is the thief. As Oliver runs away it appears that the entire neighbourhood takes up the chase. Oliver can’t outrun everyone so he is soon brought to bay. And then a curious event occurs. Rather than the old gentleman being indignant at being the target of a thief, he shows compassion for Oliver.


Thoughts

Much happens in this rather brief chapter. Oliver becomes fully aware that he is living with a den of thieves, he learns that Bates and The Dodger would rather disappear than help Oliver if and when he gets into trouble and, most importantly, Oliver comes into contact with the first adult who demonstrates any sincere and lasting compassion towards him. When the victim of the theft pleads “don’t hurt him” to the crowd we witness someone extending kindness to Oliver.

Thoughts

In terms of the plot, why was it important to introduce a man who was kind to Oliver at this point in the novel?

Is it me? ... I found the style of writing in chapters 9 and 10 to be rather simple, dare I say un-Dickensian? Perhaps I should call the style unadorned Dickens? Both The Pickwick Papers and the earlier Sketches By Boz seem to me, at least, to be more fully evolved, and present a more detailed sentence construction, setting and action. Have you noticed the style of the first chapters of Oliver Twist to be “sparse” in style?


message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3444 comments Mod
Oliver Twist Chapters 11-13

Chapter 11

Oliver is hauled to the police office and must face a magistrate even though the elderly gentleman does not want to press the case. It seems, however, that the courts love to be insensitive to the wishes of the population, especially children and the poor, and Oliver is tossed into a cell and locked in. Now we have seen how both the court system and the poorhouse laws do not act with much kindness towards children. Here is another incidence of Oliver being tossed into a cell, a basement, or a workhouse. It says much about the treatment of impoverished children. In many ways, children were simply little adults, ripe for the picking and exploitation by both cruel people and an insensitive system.

It is at this point in the novel that Dickens raises the stakes of intrigue in the novel for the elderly gentleman comments about Oliver that “[t]here is something in that boy’s face ... something that touches and interests me ... Bless my soul! Where have I seen something like that before?” The Old man, Mr Brownlow, calls the faces of people he knew back into his memory. Now what can Dickens be up to? If we go back to the first chapter of the book we will recall how Oliver’s mother “imprinted her cold white lips passionately on [Oliver’s] forehead; passed her hands over her face; fade wildly round; shuttered; fell back - and died.” The novel Oliver Twist is an early Dickens, and his style still evolving. We know that Dickens loved coincidences, revelations and unveilings in his novels. Here we have an early example of what could possibly be critical to our story as we move forward.

What follows are a number of paragraphs where Dickens is critical of the court system. If we have any doubt about that just consider that the magistrate’s name is Fang, and his bite is just as bad as his bark. In the last moments of the trial the bookseller makes it to court, testifies as to the innocence of Oliver, and thus Oliver is spared his fate at the hands of Fang. (A bit of a mixed metaphor but I could not resist it.)


Chapter 12

Oliver is taken back to Brownlow’s home and there is tended to by “a motherly lady.” She too calls Oliver “my dear” but this time, in contrast to Fagin who earlier watched over a sleeping Oliver and then referred to him as “my dear” when Oliver awakes he is in safe hands. It is interesting to note how Dickens contrasts Fagin’s den and the Brownlow home in terms of Oliver being exhausted and awakening into a new situation. The same phrase “my dear” while a common enough appellation, helps to frame the two worlds that Oliver has awakened into.

Dickens further introduces his readers into the possible link between Brownlow and Oliver when he has the old nursemaid say of Oliver “[w]hat a grateful little dear ....
pretty creature! What would his mother say has she sat by him as I have, and could see him now!”

Oliver replies “[p]erhaps she does see me ... perhaps she has sat by me. I almost feel as if she had.” More phrases from Oliver lead us further into the speculation of how Oliver, his mother and Mr Brownlow could be connected. Oliver remarks on the beautiful face of a woman in a portrait in the room where he is convalescing and then later remarks that the face in the picture “makes his heart beat ... as if it was alive, and wanted to speak to me.”


Thoughts

Are you surprised that Dickens has introduced the probable connection between Brownlow and Oliver so early in the story?

I have not pointed out other segments of this chapter that appear to push the connection between Brownlow, the portrait and Oliver. Do you think Dickens is being too heavy-handed in this chapter? Did you notice any?



For the remainder of the chapter we follow in the footsteps of The Dodger and Charley Bates. I can’t help but think that Dickens enjoyed creating both the world of Fagin and the child thieves and the sedate world of Mr Brownlow and Oliver’s present residence. Dickens loved contrast. What joy Dickens must have felt as he prepared to bring these two different worlds of adults and children into contact and conflict.



Chapter 13

Fagin is not happy that Oliver has been apprehended and threatens to “throttle” the Dodger. Between the world of the workhouse and the world of street urchins there was not much difference. Survival was precarious at best. The world of kindness such as Oliver is finding at Brownlow’s is rare. As Fagin and the boys squirm and squabble a deep growling voice is added to the scene. It comes from a rough-hewed man of about 35 who has legs that look “unfinished and incomplete ... without a set of fetters to garnish them.” He uses his legs to kick his dog cross the room and tell Fagin that if he had been Fagin’s apprentice he would have killed Fagin. In a stroke of masterful understatement Fagin says that this new man, named Bill Sikes, seems to be “out of humour.” Sikes states that the gang need to find out what happened to Oliver. It is decided that Nancy will pretend to be Oliver’s sister and go to the police station to find out Oliver’s fate. Nancy finds out that Oliver has been taken to the home of the man who was robbed. This revelation leads to Fagin moving his criminal operations to another “ken” and everyone put on alert to find Oliver at all costs. The chapter ends with Fagin warning that if Oliver “means to blab us among his new friends, we may stop his mouth yet.”


Thoughts


Our plot thickens, new characters are introduced, and we are moving deeper into the world of criminals, violence and intriguing settings. The contrast between the calm tranquility of Brownlow and the jagged world of Fagin, Sikes, Nancy, Bates and the Dodger is being created by Dickens. Why would such intrigue be more interesting since Oliver is a child?

Vocabulary: Have you, like me, enjoyed puzzling out some of the slang that is occurring in this novel? There are some great sites that offer meanings and definitions for Victorian slang. For example, “ken” means a room or a crib. A crib is a place one stays or lives in. A “ken-cracker” is a house breaker and a “boozing ken” is an ale house. Who knew?

How would you define the slang word “peach” when Fagin says of Oliver that “He has not peached” so far”?

I’m going to state the obvious here, but I just realized how child-focussed OT is. So many children are spilling about the novel’s pages. I then got thinking about all of Dickens’s novels. Children or young adults seem to populate them in abundance. Then I asked myself which Dickens novels have the fewest children. I have one in mind, what do you think?


message 3: by Peter (last edited Jun 16, 2018 09:27AM) (new)

Peter | 3444 comments Mod
Here is a link to a book that will help with Victorian slang. A fascinating read or browse.

https://publicdomainreview.org/collec...


message 4: by Mary Lou (last edited Jun 16, 2018 12:34PM) (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments Okay... I'll be the one to bring it up, but I'll hide my comments for those who prefer a g-rated discussion. Not a spoiler, just an observation....
(view spoiler)


message 5: by Mary Lou (last edited Jun 16, 2018 12:29PM) (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments Peter wrote: "I just realized how child-focussed OT is. So many children are spilling about the novel’s pages. I then got thinking about all of Dickens’s novels. Children or young adults seem to populate them in abundance. Then I asked myself which Dickens novels have the fewest children. I have one in mind, what do you think? ..."

When my daughter was active in theater back in her high school days, I noticed that the teacher always chose plays that had lots of bit parts for elementary school students. At some point along the way, I wised up and realized that he did this to bring in bigger audiences. Your observation makes me wonder why schools don't do more Dickens plays. Too challenging, perhaps? The only one I ever see is, of course, A Christmas Carol.

PS - I'm guessing the novel without children to which you're referring would be A Tale of Two Cities -- Pickwick really doesn't have many children, but the adults definitely have childlike qualities!


message 6: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments Peter wrote: "I have not pointed out other segments of this chapter that appear to push the connection between Brownlow, the portrait and Oliver. Do you think Dickens is being too heavy-handed in this chapter? "

Yes.

But the original readers probably wouldn't have seen it the same way, having not read Dickens' other novels yet.


message 7: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments Peter wrote: "In terms of the plot, why was it important to introduce a man who was kind to Oliver at this point in the novel?"

This novel is so very dark, I think Dickens had to introduce someone kind - and quick! - before the story became just too dark and heavy for the readers to bear. We can pity Oliver, but unless we see a glimmer of hope where he's concerned (especially after the introduction of Bill Sikes - which, coincidentally, rhymes with "yikes!") we may well decide to move on to a happier novel that makes us feel less like killing ourselves.


message 8: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments Nice observation, Peter, about the use of the phrase "my dear." It sounds so affectionate in Mrs. Bedwin's voice, and so manipulative coming out of Fagin.


message 9: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3444 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "Okay... I'll be the one to bring it up, but I'll hide my comments for those who prefer a g-rated discussion. Not a spoiler, just an observation....
[spoilers removed]"


Hi Mary Lou

I agree with your comments in the spoiler and about the darkness of OT to this point in time. What a shock the mood and tone of OT must have been to those readers anticipating another PP type of novel. Dickens never did return to such a light-hearted romp did he.

I think these might be some of the indications that this novel is an early Dickens. As Dickens matures he does learn how to balance the moods of the novels and characters much better. Thank goodness he never lost his love of interesting names for his characters, albeit with some shading of meaning.

Did anyone else find parts, characters, set pieces or the like that suggest OT is an early Dickens? Perhaps as we go through the novel we can continue our look for the “early” Dickens.


message 10: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments I agree, the contrasts are interesting. One contrast I noticed is the speech. The scoundrels have a colorful, forceful way of speaking, while the gentleman, Mr. Brownlow, speaks in a thoughtful, conscientious tone. The scoundrels are volatile and fly off the handle easily, while Brownlow is self-controlled, not wanting to commit an error.


message 11: by Alissa (last edited Jun 16, 2018 09:39PM) (new)

Alissa | 317 comments Peter wrote: How would you define the slang word “peach” when Fagin says of Oliver that “He has not peached” so far”? "

That caught my attention too. My first thought was the delicious fruit, but when I looked it up, was surprised to learn it's an obsolete variant of the word, "impeach," meaning "to inform against." That makes sense.


message 12: by Peter (last edited Jun 17, 2018 04:01AM) (new)

Peter | 3444 comments Mod
Hi Alissa

Thank you for your focus on speech and its curious variants. Your comments on how a character’s speech patterns, methods of speech, delivery of the words, and selection of words all explain how Dickens created such memorable characters. Language, much like the clothes one wears and one’s physical appearance are all part of creating a character which lead the reader to a greater understanding of the novel. Even the fact that Mr Brownlow is first encountered at a bookshop is part of who he is and how the reader will first imagine him.


message 13: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1340 comments Mary Lou wrote: "Okay... I'll be the one to bring it up, but I'll hide my comments for those who prefer a g-rated discussion. Not a spoiler, just an observation....
[spoilers removed]"


(view spoiler)


message 14: by Julie (last edited Jun 17, 2018 10:10AM) (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1340 comments Peter wrote: "I have not pointed out other segments of this chapter that appear to push the connection between Brownlow, the portrait and Oliver. Do you think Dickens is being too heavy-handed in this chapter?"

I think it's incredibly clumsy, but you know what? Before this online group, Oliver is the only Dickens novel I've tried to read in installments, with weeklong pauses in between each one, and I can say the first time I read this it nearly killed me to hold off and wait and not read on to solve the mystery of the portrait. I would absolutely have bought the next installment.

It's kind of a risk for Dickens, at the end of this number, to pull away from Oliver for the first time in the book (I think I have that right) and plunge into the London crime world without him. So he needs a dangling Oliver hook at this point that's powerful enough to bring us back to the story while he starts a new Sykes thread that he doesn't really have time to get going properly before he's hit his page limit for the installment. All the portrait stuff might be clumsy, sure, but it seems to me it's also an extremely effective way to keep readers coming back.


message 15: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3444 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "Peter wrote: "I have not pointed out other segments of this chapter that appear to push the connection between Brownlow, the portrait and Oliver. Do you think Dickens is being too heavy-handed in t..."

Hi Julie

Too often we forget that Dickens was published in monthly/weekly instalments. The wait period, as you mention, must have been agonizing for his first readers. At least we have the luxury of peeking ahead if we want ... and I always do.


message 16: by John (new)

John (jdourg) | 1120 comments Peter wrote: "Julie wrote: "Peter wrote: "I have not pointed out other segments of this chapter that appear to push the connection between Brownlow, the portrait and Oliver. Do you think Dickens is being too hea..."

Peter, I should probably know the answer to this question, but I actually don't. Was every novel Dickens wrote published in installments?

I'm going to assume yes. I will also assume that his publisher then put out the entire novel in bound format.

I sometimes forget, and it's not always easy to wrap my mind around it, but I think owning a book back then was not common, except perhaps the Bible for the average person.


message 17: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3444 comments Mod
Hi John

Yes. All of Dickens’s major novels were published in instalments. The Christmas books were published as books.

I agree with you that owning of a book in Victorian times was not as common as it is today. At the completion of the novel the parts would be collected and bound into the form of a book. Dickens original covers for his books were green. Thackeray’s were yellow. Often the more wealthy would have their personal novels rebound in leather with their own exterior design and interior marbling. Nothing like an impressive library for the well-to-do.

Here’s a link to the publication details.

http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/d...


message 18: by John (new)

John (jdourg) | 1120 comments Peter wrote: "Hi John

Yes. All of Dickens’s major novels were published in instalments. The Christmas books were published as books.

I agree with you that owning of a book in Victorian times was not as common ..."


Thanks Peter.


message 19: by John (new)

John (jdourg) | 1120 comments Julie wrote: "Peter wrote: "I have not pointed out other segments of this chapter that appear to push the connection between Brownlow, the portrait and Oliver. Do you think Dickens is being too heavy-handed in t..."

Julie, I much prefer reading at the installment pace, though it varies with me. I also tend to jump around with my reading too much, but I seem to prefer it that way for some reason.


message 20: by Tristram (last edited Jun 19, 2018 06:55AM) (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4853 comments Mod
As to Dickens novels that do not have a child hero, or even no children in them, A Tale of Two Cities was already named. I would also call your attention to Dickens's other historical novel, Barnaby Rudge, where Barnaby is a young man, but not a child. Apart from that, although the novel is named for him, it does not really centre on him. There is also Dickens's last, unfinished, novel, which does not have any children, and we also have Bleak House, which has Jo and Charley, albeit they belong to an enormous cast of secondary characters. Last, not least, there is Martin Chuzzlewit.

Generally, however, I'd say that one of the typical features of Dickens's novels is that he often sees the world through a child's eyes.


message 21: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4853 comments Mod
When it comes to historical slang, I can warmly recommend Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Historical Slang, which also gives "peach" as a variant of "impeach".


message 22: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6381 comments Mod
If I had to read Dickens novels in installments I would have gone mad. Luckily I've read them all at least twice before. There's one I've read every summer since I was a teenager, does anyone want to guess which one that is? :-)


message 23: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6381 comments Mod
I wonder what it says about me when, although there are quite a few people in this book I would like to poison, or at least hurt in some way, the guy who dares to kick his dog is at the top of the list.


message 24: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6381 comments Mod


Fagin

Chapter 9

Sol Eytinge, Jr.

1867 Diamond Edition

Text Illustrated:

It was late next morning when Oliver awoke, from a sound, long sleep. There was no other person in the room but the old Jew, who was boiling some coffee in a saucepan for breakfast, and whistling softly to himself as he stirred it round and round, with an iron spoon. He would stop every now and then to listen when there was the least noise below: and when he had satisfied himself, he would go on whistling and stirring again, as before.

Although Oliver had roused himself from sleep, he was not thoroughly awake. There is a drowsy state, between sleeping and waking, when you dream more in five minutes with your eyes half open, and yourself half conscious of everything that is passing around you, than you would in five nights with your eyes fast closed, and your senses wrapt in perfect unconsciousness. At such time, a mortal knows just enough of what his mind is doing, to form some glimmering conception of its mighty powers, its bounding from earth and spurning time and space, when freed from the restraint of its corporeal associate.

Oliver was precisely in this condition. He saw the Jew with his half-closed eyes; heard his low whistling; and recognised the sound of the spoon grating against the saucepan's sides: and yet the self-same senses were mentally engaged, at the same time, in busy action with almost everybody he had ever known.

When the coffee was done, the Jew drew the saucepan to the hob. Standing, then in an irresolute attitude for a few minutes, as if he did not well know how to employ himself, he turned round and looked at Oliver, and called him by his name. He did not answer, and was to all appearances asleep.

After satisfying himself upon this head, the Jew stepped gently to the door: which he fastened. He then drew forth: as it seemed to Oliver, from some trap in the floor: a small box, which he placed carefully on the table. His eyes glistened as he raised the lid, and looked in. Dragging an old chair to the table, he sat down; and took from it a magnificent gold watch, sparkling with jewels.

'Aha!' said the Jew, shrugging up his shoulders, and distorting every feature with a hideous grin. 'Clever dogs! Clever dogs! Staunch to the last! Never told the old parson where they were. Never poached upon old Fagin! And why should they? It wouldn't have loosened the knot, or kept the drop up, a minute longer. No, no, no! Fine fellows! Fine fellows!'

With these, and other muttered reflections of the like nature, the Jew once more deposited the watch in its place of safety. At least half a dozen more were severally drawn forth from the same box, and surveyed with equal pleasure; besides rings, brooches, bracelets, and other articles of jewellery, of such magnificent materials, and costly workmanship, that Oliver had no idea, even of their names.

Having replaced these trinkets, the Jew took out another: so small that it lay in the palm of his hand. There seemed to be some very minute inscription on it; for the Jew laid it flat upon the table, and shading it with his hand, pored over it, long and earnestly. At length he put it down, as if despairing of success; and, leaning back in his chair, muttered:

'What a fine thing capital punishment is! Dead men never repent; dead men never bring awkward stories to light. Ah, it's a fine thing for the trade! Five of 'em strung up in a row, and none left to play booty, or turn white-livered!'

As the Jew uttered these words, his bright dark eyes, which had been staring vacantly before him, fell on Oliver's face; the boy's eyes were fixed on his in mute curiousity; and although the recognition was only for an instant—for the briefest space of time that can possibly be conceived—it was enough to show the old man that he had been observed.

He closed the lid of the box with a loud crash; and, laying his hand on a bread knife which was on the table, started furiously up. He trembled very much though; for, even in his terror, Oliver could see that the knife quivered in the air.

'What's that?' said the Jew. 'What do you watch me for? Why are you awake? What have you seen? Speak out, boy! Quick—quick! for your life.


Commentary:

The other illustrators have depicted Oliver's "step-father," the criminal mastermind Fagin, in more positive lights. However, with a scheme that permitted him but one likeness of the underworld figure, Eytinge elected to show him as he first appears to Oliver when the boy arrives in London accompanied by the Artful Dodger. Dark, menacing, unkempt, Fagin in Sol Eytinge's single Diamond Edition illustration is neither parent, nor tutor, nor yet a monster, but the quintessential miser who neglects even personal hygiene and adequate clothing in his pursuit of "personal property."


message 25: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6381 comments Mod


"What's that?" said the Jew. "What do you watch me for?"

Chapter 9

Felix O. C. Darley

1865 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

As the Jew uttered these words, his bright dark eyes, which had been staring vacantly before him, fell on Oliver's face; the boy’s eyes were fixed on his in mute curiosity; and although the recognition was only for an instant — for the briefest space of time that can possibly be conceived — it was enough to show the old man that he had been observed.

He closed the lid of the box with a loud crash; and, laying his hand on a bread knife which was on the table, started furiously up. He trembled very much though; for, even in his terror, Oliver could see that the knife quivered in the air.

"What's that?" said the Jew. "What do you watch me for? Why are you awake? What have you seen? Speak out, boy! Quick — quick! for your life."

"I wasn't able to sleep any longer, sir," replied Oliver, meekly. "I am very sorry if I have disturbed you, sir."

You were not awake an hour ago?" said the Jew, scowling fiercely on the boy.

"No! No, indeed!" replied Oliver.

"Are you sure?" cried the Jew: with a still fiercer look than before: and a threatening attitude.

"Upon my word I was not, sir," replied Oliver, earnestly. "I was not, indeed, sir."

"Tush, tush, my dear!" said the Jew, abruptly resuming his old manner, and playing with the knife a little, before he laid it down; as if to induce the belief that he had caught it up, in mere sport. "Of course I know that, my dear. I only tried to frighten you. You're a brave boy. Ha! ha! you're a brave boy, Oliver." The Jew rubbed his hands with a chuckle, but glanced uneasily at the box, notwithstanding.

"Did you see any of these pretty things, my dear?" said the Jew, laying his hand upon it after a short pause.

"Yes, sir," replied Oliver.

"Ah!" said the Jew, turning rather pale. "They — they're mine, Oliver; my little property. All I have to live upon, in my old age. The folks call me a miser, my dear. Only a miser; that's all."



Commentary:

Although Darley's frontispiece is beautiful as an independent work of art, it also serves to underscore the essential motivation of one of the novel's chief villains, the notorious fence, betrayer of thieves, and criminal mastermind, Fagin. With a scheme that permitted him but one or two opportunities to realise scenes in the short novel of just two volumes in the New York 'Household' Edition, like Diamond Edition illustrator Sol Eytinge, Junior in the frontispiece for the volume in the 1867 Ticknor and Fields edition, Darley shows the secretive underworld figure as he first appears to Oliver just after the boy arrives in London accompanied by the Artful Dodger.

Felix O. C. Darley, then, selected for illustration a scene which gives the American reader of the 1860s considerable insight into Fagin's villainy, the product of indigence and want rather than mere viciousness. The character of Fagin is hardly a Dickens — or, for that matter, a George Cruikshank — original, for such thief-takers, fences, and master criminals were commonplace in London lore and street gazettes. Dickens may have based Fagin partly upon the fence and thief-taker Peachum in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1726) and partly upon such actual nefarious characters from the police gazettes such as Ikey Solomon (1787-1850), born in the east end of London and notorious as a receiver of stolen goods. However, unlike Fagin, he was a practising Jew and successfully avoided capture on a number of occasions before giving up his freedom in the United States to join his wife, who had been sentenced to transportation to Tasmania (in those days, Van Diemen's Land). Thanks in part to Lionel Bart's West End production (1960) and David Merrick's Broadway (1963) musical Oliver! (perhaps based more on David Lean's 1948 cinematic adaptation rather than directly on Dickens's novel, and made into a widely circulated film in 1968, with Ron Moody starring as Fagin), like The Artful Dodger, Fagin is now part of our popular culture, and remains one of Dickens's most frequently illustrated and most recognizable characters.

Darley's American readers would have long been familiar with Fagin, Bill Sikes, Nancy, the Artful Dodger, and the other characters in the story through numerous dramatic adaptations from 1839 onward. Not surprisingly, given their proximity to London by ship, the first American theatres to stage productions of the novel, just as it wound up its initial serial run, were The St. Charles in New Orleans (24 March 1839) and The Tremont in Boston (15 April 1839). The Chicago Theater was the next American venue for a production of Oliver Twist (16, 18, and 24 September 1839), after which the same company (with Joseph Jefferson as Bumble and William Warren as Sikes) took the production to St. Louis, Missouri (March 1840). There followed stage adaptations at New York City's Park Theater (February-March, and June 1840), Philadelphia (1840-41, and at The Walnut Street Theater in 1842-43, and again in 1844), New York City's Bowery Theater (July 1844 and again in 1857), The Boston Museum (February and July 1849), in San Francisco (August 1858), and (undated) in Troy, NY. Immediately prior to the publication of the New York 'Household Edition' volumes, Joseph Jefferson reprised his role as Bumble at The Winter Garden, New York City (2-18 February 1860), following another company's production in January 1859 at Burton's Triple Hall (which became The Winter Garden the following year).

As opposed to the stage-worthy scenes in the thieves' den, with the "merry old gentleman" cooking for the boys and acting as a surrogate parent as he engages them in games that prepare them for the pickpocketing trade, Darley's present subject suggests that Fagin, like Oliver, is a social isolate who has had to keep a constant eye to the main chance in the East End's mean streets. Both Fagin and Oliver are startled. The miser grasps his cash-box as Oliver instinctively raises his arm in self-defense as Fagin momentarily menaces him with a dagger. Behind them both is the chief source of his wealth, purloined silk handkerchiefs drying on a rack.

In contrast, avoiding providing much detail for the backdrop, Harry Furniss highlights the four figures as he gives us a "freeze-frame" in which he captures all four characters in motion; Oliver, no longer the victim, is being entertained as he seems to have found a home and family at last. That he is deluded in so thinking will become shortly apparent. An extension of this scene, which Darley provides in his 1888 Character Sketches from Dickens, is Oliver's trying out his own pickpocketing skills on a playful Fagin, a scene which perhaps undermines the naiveté with which Dickens invests Oliver in the Thieves' Kitchen, for only when he observes The Dodger and Charley Bates preparing to rob the book-loving "cove" at The Green does it dawn on Oliver what the true object of the old gentleman's game must be.



Full page illustration


message 26: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6381 comments Mod


Fagan and Oliver Twist

Chapter 9

Felix O. C. Darley

1888 Character Sketches from Dickens

Text Illustrated:

The visitors stopped a long time. Spirits were produced, in consequence of one of the young ladies complaining of a coldness in her inside; and the conversation took a very convivial and improving turn. At length, Charley Bates expressed his opinion that it was time to pad the hoof. This, it occurred to Oliver, must be French for going out; for directly afterwards, the Dodger, and Charley, and the two young ladies, went away together, having been kindly furnished by the amiable old Jew with money to spend.

'There, my dear,' said Fagin. 'That's a pleasant life, isn't it? They have gone out for the day.'

'Have they done work, sir?' inquired Oliver.

'Yes,' said the Jew; 'that is, unless they should unexpectedly come across any, when they are out; and they won't neglect it, if they do, my dear, depend upon it. Make 'em your models, my dear. Make 'em your models,' tapping the fire-shovel on the hearth to add force to his words; 'do everything they bid you, and take their advice in all matters—especially the Dodger's, my dear. He'll be a great man himself, and will make you one too, if you take pattern by him.—Is my handkerchief hanging out of my pocket, my dear?' said the Jew, stopping short.

'Yes, sir,' said Oliver.

'See if you can take it out, without my feeling it; as you saw them do, when we were at play this morning.'

Oliver held up the bottom of the pocket with one hand, as he had seen the Dodger hold it, and drew the handkerchief lightly out of it with the other.

'Is it gone?' cried the Jew.

'Here it is, sir,' said Oliver, showing it in his hand.

'You're a clever boy, my dear,' said the playful old gentleman, patting Oliver on the head approvingly. 'I never saw a sharper lad. Here's a shilling for you. If you go on, in this way, you'll be the greatest man of the time. And now come here, and I'll show you how to take the marks out of the handkerchiefs.'

Oliver wondered what picking the old gentleman's pocket in play, had to do with his chances of being a great man. But, thinking that the Jew, being so much his senior, must know best, he followed him quietly to the table, and was soon deeply involved in his new study.


Commentary:

Although Dickens's official illustrator for Oliver Twist, George Cruikshank depicts the fence Fagin as a stereotypical villain out of melodrama, the figure whom Darley describes is very much an individual. In the chapter 7 illustration which depicts Oliver's initiation into Fagin's den, Oliver Introduced to the Respctable Old Gentleman, the criminal mastermind controls the warmth and light of the cooking fire (left) as Oliver enters. Darley has not made the fence's control of these creature comforts quite so obvious, for no other waifs occupy his scene. In Oliver's Reception by Fagin and the Boys, Cruikshank emphasizes Fagin's girth even as he makes him a static figure, whereas Darley gives us an animated and even playful Jew with a much thinner figure appropriate to one raised in the East End slums. The engaging scene is consistent with Fagin's self-identification with the Good Samaritan of the New Testament parable, and Dickens's consistently alluding to him as?"the Pleasant Old Gentleman," even though this characterization is ironic. The illustrations by James Mahoney in the Household Edition and by Harry Furniss in the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1871 and 1910 respectively) are realistic responses to Cruikshank's originals. Perhaps as a reaction to accusations of antisemitism in the portrait of Fagin, Furniss has downplayed the figure of the master criminal, emphasizing that of "bully boy" Bill Sikes.


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The merry old gentleman's pretty little game

Chapter 9

Frederic W. Pailthorpe

1886

Text Illustrated:

When the breakfast was cleared away; the merry old gentleman and the two boys played at a very curious and uncommon game, which was performed in this way. The merry old gentleman, placing a snuff-box in one pocket of his trousers, a note-case in the other, and a watch in his waistcoat pocket, with a guard-chain round his neck, and sticking a mock diamond pin in his shirt: buttoned his coat tight round him, and putting his spectacle-case and handkerchief in his pockets, trotted up and down the room with a stick, in imitation of the manner in which old gentlemen walk about the streets any hour in the day. Sometimes he stopped at the fire-place, and sometimes at the door, making believe that he was staring with all his might into shop-windows. At such times, he would look constantly round him, for fear of thieves, and would keep slapping all his pockets in turn, to see that he hadn’t lost anything, in such a very funny and natural manner, that Oliver laughed till the tears ran down his face. All this time, the two boys followed him closely about: getting out of his sight, so nimbly, every time he turned round, that it was impossible to follow their motions. At last, the Dodger trod upon his toes, or ran upon his boot accidentally, while Charley Bates stumbled up against him behind; and in that one moment they took from him, with the most extraordinary rapidity, snuff-box, note-case, watch-guard, chain, shirt-pin, pocket-handkerchief, even the spectacle-case. If the old gentleman felt a hand in any one of his pockets, he cried out where it was; and then the game began all over again.

Commentary:


An 1885 collection of colour illustrations from Oliver Twist was produced by the artist Frederick Pailthorpe, who also illustrated Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. Like George Cruikshank, Oliver Twist's original illustrator and a friend of Pailthorpe, Pailthorpe uses satire and caricature in his interpretations of the novel's scenes and characters.


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The Thieves' Kitchen. Oliver is Shown "How It Is Done

Chapter 9

Harry Furniss

1910 Library Edition

Text Illustrated:

When the breakfast was cleared away; the merry old gentleman and the two boys played at a very curious and uncommon game, which was performed in this way. The merry old gentleman, placing a snuff-box in one pocket of his trousers, a note-case in the other, and a watch in his waistcoat pocket, with a guard-chain round his neck, and sticking a mock diamond pin in his shirt: buttoned his coat tight round him, and putting his spectacle-case and handkerchief in his pockets, trotted up and down the room with a stick, in imitation of the manner in which old gentlemen walk about the streets any hour in the day. Sometimes he stopped at the fire-place, and sometimes at the door, making believe that he was staring with all his might into shop-windows. At such times, he would look constantly round him, for fear of thieves, and would keep slapping all his pockets in turn, to see that he hadn’t lost anything, in such a very funny and natural manner, that Oliver laughed till the tears ran down his face. All this time, the two boys followed him closely about: getting out of his sight, so nimbly, every time he turned round, that it was impossible to follow their motions. At last, the Dodger trod upon his toes, or ran upon his boot accidentally, while Charley Bates stumbled up against him behind; and in that one moment they took from him, with the most extraordinary rapidity, snuff-box, note-case, watch-guard, chain, shirt-pin, pocket-handkerchief, even the spectacle-case. If the old gentleman felt a hand in any one of his pockets, he cried out where it was; and then the game began all over again.

Commentary:

The Thieves' Kitchen. Oliver is Shown "How It Is Done" by Harry Furniss. Dickens's The Adventures of Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens Library Edition. Although Dickens himself selected for illustration by the house artist of Bentley's Miscellany the scene in which Charley Bates explain a "professional technicality" (hanging) for Oliver early in the December 1837 serial instalment, there is no correspondence unfortunately regarding the novelist's instructions regarding the initial appearance of Fagin. The phrase "had better settle the Illustration with you" ("To George Cruikshank," November 1837; Letters) and similar passages in the other few surviving letters that Dickens sent the illustrator certainly suggest that Dickens actively directed the series of illustrations involving Fagin and his crew, and that he tended to propose scenes for Cruikshank throughout the periodical run of the picaresque novel. That author and illustrator settled on a "Thieves' Kitchen" scene in which Fagin is a provider rather than coach or teacher is significant in that the illustration implies that Oliver is looking for shelter, food, and a family, and that these boys with Mr. Fagin in loco parentis will be that family, replacing the temporary and uncertain boy society in which he found himself when he returned to the workhouse from Mrs. Mann's baby farm.

When one compares Harry Furniss's impressionistic style and dynamic modelling to the more static caricature of George Cruikshank in Oliver introduced to the respectable Old Gentleman (May 1837), one can better appreciate and revel in the sheer energy and fin de siecle Baroque exuberance with which the illustrator describes Fagin's pickpocketing "game" — which is in fact a training session for his latest corporate recruit, the naïve upcountry boy, Oliver. The reader, even if unaware of the story's trajectory at this point, can anticipate that Oliver is to enter an apprenticeship to become a common thief in a Hogarthian rather than Bunyanesque "progress" that can end only either in the Tyburn noose or in transportation for life. In Furniss's theatrical rendition of the scene, Oliver, an audience of one, appears to be delighted by the antics of Charley Bates and The Artful Dodger, and by Fagin's pretending to be an upper-middle-class "swell" ripe for the picking. By the time that the reader encounters the verbal equivalent of this image in the accompanying text, "this game had been played a great many times".

This subject, like Oliver's asking for more and Oliver's narrowly escaping being apprenticed to a chimney-sweep, was likely one which Dickens directly proposed to his original illustrator George Cruikshank for Bentley's Miscellany as Oliver introduced to the respectable Old Gentleman (Part Four, May 1837). In this early illustration, Fagin is a surrogate father to five boys, including Charley Bates (right) and Jack Dawkins (centre). However, since he seems oblivious to the fact that two of the boys are smoking long, clayed pipes as he prepares supper with a gridiron, Fagin may be in middle-class terms an inadequate or inappropriate father figure. The multiply-pronged toasting fork he holds may even imply his fiendish machinations and Satanic powers, but literally it points towards his domestic supervisory capacity in the Thieves' Kitchen. At the end of the century for his Character Sketches from Dickens, celebrated and financially successful Dickens illustrator Kyd (J. Clayton Clarke) elected to depict Fagin not as the boys' instructor or tutor in the criminal arts, but as the boys' provider, toasting fork in hand, in Fagin, an image he reproduced for Player's Cigarette Card No. 2 in a series of fifty: a hideous, red-bearded, red-haired monster in tattered dressing-gown and slippers, with a toothy, atavistic smile. Other illustrators have kinder to the master-thief, and Furniss's initial illustration of Fagin, in top hat and tailcoat, and striding forward, cane in hand, is more flattering by far than Kyd's as it shows a dynamic, active, bustling teacher rather than a hideous troll with fangs ready to devour incautious children. Dark, menacing, unkempt, Fagin in Sol Eytinge's single Diamond Edition illustration is neither parent, nor tutor, nor yet a monster, but the quintessential miser who neglects even personal hygiene and adequate clothing in his pursuit of "personal property."

The character of Fagin is hardly a Dickens — or, for that matter, Cruikshank — original, for such thief-takers, fences, and master criminals were commonplace in London lore and street gazettes. Dickens may have based Fagin partly upon Peachum in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1726) and partly upon such actual nefarious characters such as Ikey Solomon (1787-1850), born in the east end of London and notorious as a receiver of stolen goods. However, unlike Fagin, he was a practising Jew and successfully avoided capture on a number of occasions before giving up his freedom in the United States to join his wife, who had been sentenced to transportation to Tasmania (in those days, Van Diemen's Land). Thanks in part to Lionel Bart's West End production (1960) and David Merrick's Broadway (1963) musical Oliver! (perhaps based more on David Lean's 1948 cinematic adaptation rather than directly on Dickens's novel, and made into a widely circulated film in 1968, with Ron Moody starring as Fagin), like The Artful Dodger, Fagin is now part of our popular culture, and remains one of Dickens's most frequently illustrated and most recognizable characters.

As the present subject suggests, Dickens, realizing that Cruikshank excelled at depicting the sordid, grotesque criminal underworld of the metropolis, gave him a suitable subject. Cruikshank's organization of the dramatic scene is masterful, with each character in an appropriate pose, the juxtapositions of the four revealing their attitudes to one another, and the whole organized by the gestures and eye contact of the three principals: Fagin, juxtaposed with the cooking fire (left), the casual Dodger, indicating by his gesture the new-comer, and Oliver, curious and respectful (right). The moment, however, is static, like a theatrical tableau. In contrast, avoiding providing much detail for the backdrop, Furniss highlights the four figures as he gives us a "freeze-frame" in which he captures all four characters in motion; Oliver, no longer the victim, is being entertained as he seems to have found a home and family at last. That he is deluded in so thinking will become shortly apparent. An extension of this scene, which F. O. C. Darley provides in his 1888 Character Sketches from Dickens, is Oliver's trying out his own pickpocketing skills on a playful Fagin, a scene which perhaps undermines the naiveté with which Dickens invests Oliver in the Thieves' Kitchen.


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Oliver amazed at the Dodger's mode of going to work

Chapter 10

George Cruikshank

Text Illustrated:

The old gentleman was a very respectable-looking personage, with a powdered head and gold spectacles. He was dressed in a bottle-green coat with a black velvet collar; wore white trousers; and carried a smart bamboo cane under his arm. He had taken up a book from the stall, and there he stood, reading away, as hard as if he were in his elbow-chair, in his own study. It is very possible that he fancied himself there, indeed; for it was plain, from his abstraction, that he saw not the book-stall, nor the street, nor the boys, nor, in short, anything but the book itself — which he was reading straight through: turning over the leaf when he got to the bottom of a page, beginning at the top line of the next one, and going regularly on, with the greatest interest and eagerness.

What was Oliver's horror and alarm as he stood a few paces off, looking on with his eyelids as wide open as they would possibly go, to see the Dodger plunge his hand into the old gentleman's pocket, and draw from thence a handkerchief! To see him hand the same to Charley Bates; and finally to behold them, both, running away round the corner at full speed.

In an instant the whole mystery of the handkerchiefs, and the watches, and the Jewels, and the Jew, rushed upon the boy's mind. He stood, for a moment, with the blood so tingling through all his veins from terror, that he felt as if he were in a burning fire; then, confused and frightened, he took to his heels; and, not knowing what he did, made off as fast as he could lay his feet to the ground.


Commentary:

The theft of Mr. Brownlow continues his "progress" through criminal underworld in the tradition of Fielding's Jonathon Wilde and William Hogarth's The Harlot's Progress. For the London readers of the 1830s the scene would have seemed frighteningly real as it draws the viewer's attention to those executing the crime, since the light-fingered street boys would often abscond with the fruits of their crime without even being detected. In this case, the boys are pilfering the gentleman's tailcoat pocket, so that the victim, so thoroughly absorbed in reading, does not apprehend what is transpiring. Significantly in Cruikshank's illustration the bookseller (left) is observing with growing alarm what is happening to his customer, so that later he will be able to exonerate Oliver, despite magistrate Fang's determination to punish the petty theft to the full extent of the law.

Significant as this moment is in Oliver's descent into the criminal underworld of London, the other illustrators seem to have been reluctant to have their work compared to Cruikshank's, and so reflected upon the incident in different ways: for example, while Eytinge offers a dual character study of the malefactors, Charley Bates and the Dodger, Mahoney depicts the hue and cry after Oliver, in which ironically, both Charley and Jack Dawkins join. Furniss explores the same scene selected for illustration by Dickens and Cruikshank jointly, but places Oliver, startled, in the background, and develops the dramatic scene in the round, so to speak, foreground the Dodger and Charley, and placing Brownlow with his back to the reader.




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Stop thief!"

Chapter 10

James Mahoney

Household Edition 1871

Text Illustrated:

In an instant the whole mystery of the handkerchiefs, and the watches, and the Jewels, and the Jew, rushed upon the boy's mind. He stood, for a moment, with the blood so tingling through all his veins from terror, that he felt as if he were in a burning fire; then, confused and frightened, he took to his heels; and, not knowing what he did, made off as fast as he could lay his feet to the ground.

This was all done in a minute's space. In the very instant when Oliver began to run, the old gentleman, putting his hand to his pocket, and missing his handkerchief, turned sharp round. Seeing the boy scudding away at such a rapid pace, he very naturally concluded him to be the depredator; and, shouting "Stop thief" with all his might, made off after him, book in hand.

But the old gentleman was not the only person who raised the hue-and-cry. he Dodger and Master Bates, unwilling to attract public attention by running down the open street, had merely retired into the very first doorway round the corner. They no sooner heard the cry, and saw Oliver running, than, guessing exactly how the matter stood, they issued forth with great promptitude; and, shouting "Stop thief!" too, joined in the pursuit like good citizens.

Although Oliver had been brought up by philosophers, he was not theoretically acquainted with the beautiful axiom that self-preservation is the first law of nature. If he had been, perhaps he would have been prepared for this. Not being prepared, however, it alarmed him the more; so away he went like the wind, with the old gentleman and the two boys roaring and shouting behind him.

"Stop thief! Stop thief!" There is a magic in the sound. The tradesman leaves his counter, and the carman his waggon; the butcher throws down his tray; the baker his basket; the milkman his pail; the errand-boy his parcels; the school-boy his marbles; the paviour his pick-axe; the child his battledore. Away they run, pell-mell, helter-skelter, slap-dash: tearing, yelling, screaming, knocking down the passengers as they turn the corners, rousing up the dogs, and astonishing the fowls: and streets, squares, and courts, re-echo with the sound.

"Stop thief! Stop thief!" The cry is taken up by a hundred voices, and the crowd accumulate at every turning.


Commentary:

In London, Oliver unwittingly joins Fagin's gang of pickpockets, a scene strikingly presented in George Cruikshank's sequence of illustrations for the monthly instalments in Bentley's Miscellany, in the April 1837 steel engraving in Fagin's hideout, Oliver introduced to the respectable Old Gentleman. For one brought up in a baby-farm and parish workhouse, Oliver is surprisingly naïve about criminality, so that he has not the slightest notion about the nefarious nature of Fagin's trade, although of course the reader understands completely the nature of the gang's business.

In James Mahoney's sequence, there is no equivalent to the Cruikshank scene in which Oliver first meets Fagin. Instead, in the Household Edition James Mahoney shows not the actual robbery of the book-perusing gentleman, Mr. Brownlow, at The Green, Clerkenwell, which George Cruikshank describes in the rather static May 1837 illustration Oliver amazed at the Dodger's mode of going to work, but the much more dynamic chase scene that ensues when a terrified Oliver runs away from the robbery, drawing attention to himself, and making himself look guilty when in fact he was merely a passive observer.

Although Eytinge has followed his established practice of presenting a pair of closely associated characters in presenting the Artful Dodger with Charley Bates, Furniss realizes not only the fateful meeting of Oliver and Jack Dawkins in the marketplace at Barnet, basing his scene in all likelihood on Mahoney's, but also shows Oliver watching the demonstration in Fagin's hideout in In the thieves' kitchen; Oliver is shown "how it is done", but also the actual theft of Brownlow's silk handkerchief in Oliver's eyes are opened.

Significant as the theft of the handkerchief is in Oliver's descent into the criminal underworld of London, the other illustrators seem to have been reluctant to have their work compared to Cruikshank's, and so reflected upon the incident in different ways: for example, while Eytinge offers a dual character study of the malefactors, Charley Bates and the Dodger, Mahoney depicts the hue and cry after Oliver, in which ironically, both Charley and Jack Dawkins (left foreground) participate. Furniss explores the same scene selected for illustration by Dickens and Cruikshank jointly, but places Oliver, startled, in the background, and develops the dramatic scene in the round, so to speak, foreground the Dodger and Charley, and placing Brownlow with his back to the reader.

In Mahoney's interpretation, Brownlow is approximately centre, the fashionably dressed, middle-aged bourgeois wearing a top-hat and raising his cane. To show Oliver's low status, Mahoney has a dog join the chase and a pigeon fly up behind the boy. An artisan engaged in construction (upper left) pauses to watch the scene, as a man, arms crossed, from the opening of an inn-yard (upper centre) watches, and a woman (right rear) touches her daughter's shoulder protectively as the pursuing mob races past. The picture's focal point is the fleeing Oliver, whose look of terror is complemented by his left hand with which he reaches for his chest — thus, Mahoney suggests the fugitive is already winded and, not knowing where he is going, will soon be apprehended and taken before the magistrate. To direct the reader's eye horizontally, from the last members of the mob to Oliver's outstretched right hand, Mahoney has strategically sketched in the kennel, or central, exposed street gutter common in the high streets of market towns — this juxtaposition of kennel to pursuit suggersts that the viewer, too, is a casual bystander observing the action from the other side of the street. Dressed very much like the fleeing Oliver, Charley hangs onto his cloth cap, but the Dodger (readily identifiable by his rolled-up coat sleeves and battered top-hat) points forward, as if directing Charley towards "the first convenient court" at which they might surreptitiously abandon the chase unnoticed. The "great lubberly fellow" who momentarily will bring Oliver down may be the large man with his hand raised (between the boys and Brownlow), but this figure is not wearing a hat, as in the text. The overall effect, however, is of a powerful complement to Dickens's description of impromptu mob and its atavistic mentality as Mahoney depicts those in pursuit as a largely male juggernaut relentlessly dogging the heels of a single, very frightened little boy.


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Oliver's Eyes are opened

Chapter 10

Harry Furniss

1910 Library Edition

Text Illustrated:

The old gentleman was a very respectable-looking personage, with a powdered head and gold spectacles. He was dressed in a bottle-green coat with a black velvet collar; wore white trousers; and carried a smart bamboo cane under his arm. He had taken up a book from the stall, and there he stood, reading away, as hard as if he were in his elbow-chair, in his own study. It is very possible that he fancied himself there, indeed; for it was plain, from his abstraction, that he saw not the book-stall, nor the street, nor the boys, nor, in short, anything but the book itself — which he was reading straight through: turning over the leaf when he got to the bottom of a page, beginning at the top line of the next one, and going regularly on, with the greatest interest and eagerness.

What was Oliver's horror and alarm as he stood a few paces off, looking on with his eyelids as wide open as they would possibly go, to see the Dodger plunge his hand into the old gentleman's pocket, and draw from thence a handkerchief! To see him hand the same to Charley Bates; and finally to behold them, both, running away round the corner at full speed.

In an instant the whole mystery of the handkerchiefs, and the watches, and the Jewels, and the Jew, rushed upon the boy's mind. He stood, for a moment, with the blood so tingling through all his veins from terror, that he felt as if he were in a burning fire; then, confused and frightened, he took to his heels; and, not knowing what he did, made off as fast as he could lay his feet to the ground.


Commentary:

Whereas in Dickens's description of the attempted robbery in Chapter 10 Oliver looks surprised when Charley Bates describes the "very respectable-looking personage, with a powdered head and gold spectacles . . . in a bottle-green coat with a black-velvet collar", and then becomes shocked and horrified as the Dodger picks the gentleman's pocket to purloin his silk handkerchief, Furniss captures neither of these stronger emotions.

A scene well-known from the original George Cruikshank series in the July 1837 issue of Bentley's Miscellany, the theft of Mr. Brownlow's silk handkerchief continues the boy's "progress" through criminal underworld in the tradition of Fielding's Jonathon Wilde and William Hogarth's The Harlot's Progress. For the London readers of the 1830s the scene would have seemed frighteningly real as it draws the viewer's attention to those executing the crime, since the light-fingered street boys would often abscond with the fruits of their crime without even being detected. However, the scenario of street urchins robbing an oblivious victim would have been almost hackneyed by 1910. Significantly whereas in Cruikshank's illustration the bookseller is observing with growing alarm what is happening to his customer, in the Furniss treatment the bookseller cannot see Oliver at all, and probably cannot see The Artful Dodger; he is curious, but ironically does not cry out in alarm to warn his customer. His testimony, therefore, several pages after the illustration placed in Chapter 11, is somewhat suspect in that, at least according to Furniss's plate, he can have seen only Charley Bates clearly, and would have had Oliver outside his field of vision.

Although the 1871 Household Edition illustrator James Mahoney depicts the pursuit of Oliver by the mob through the marketplace, he does not actually show the robbery. Mahoney likely felt that he could recreate the highly dramatic moment in a more realistic manner, and elected to focus on Oliver's genuine terror at being mistaken for the actual thief in "Stop thief!" while the real culprits, part of the mob are already looking for an opportunity to break away.

In Furniss's introduction of Mr. Brownlow, who will prove by coincidence a significant character in the latter part of the novel, the viewer can apprehend very little about him, and may also be surprised that Oliver (left), the waif from the northern workhouse, is so well dressed. Charley and The Artful Dodger appear here in precisely the clothing in which Furniss dresses them in The Dodger's Toilet in Chapter 17. Such visual continuity is important in the Furniss sequence because he effectively foregrounds the figures by throwing the background into obscurity, minimally sketching in such details as are consistent with the settings that Dickens has stipulated. In this particular plate, however, Furniss has provided an unusual degree of detail in sketching in the bookstall, which contains prints as well as volumes. By the time that the reader encounters the robbery scene, Oliver is being arraigned before the severe magistrate Mr. Fang, in Chapter Eleven, "Treats of Mr. Fang the Police Magistrate; and Furnishes a Slight Specimen of His Mode of Administering Justice."


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Oliver recovering from fever

Chapter 12

George Cruikshank

Text Illustrated:

It had been bright day, for hours, when Oliver opened his eyes; he felt cheerful and happy. The crisis of the disease was safely past. He belonged to the world again.

In three days' time he was able to sit in an easy-chair, well propped up with pillows; and, as he was still too weak to walk, Mrs. Bedwin had him carried down stairs into the little housekeeper's room, which belonged to her. Having him set, here, by the fireside, the good old lady sat herself down too; and, being in a state of considerable delight at seeing him so much better, forthwith began to cry most violently.

"Never mind me, my dear," said the old lady. "I'm only having a regular good cry. There; it's all over now; and I'm quite comfortable."

"You're very, very kind to me, ma'am," said Oliver.

"Well, never you mind that, my dear," said the old lady; "that's got nothing to do with your broth; and it's full time you had it; for the doctor says Mr. Brownlow may come in to see you this morning; and we must get up our best looks, because the better we look, the more he'll be pleased." And with this, the old lady applied herself to warming up, in a little saucepan, a basin full of broth: strong enough, Oliver thought, to furnish an ample dinner, when reduced to the regulation strength, for three hundred and fifty paupers, at the lowest computation.

"Are you fond of pictures, dear?" inquired the old lady, seeing that Oliver had fixed his eyes, most intently, on a portrait which hung against the wall; just opposite his chair.

"I don't quite know, ma'am, said Oliver, without taking his eyes from the canvas; "I have seen so few, that I hardly know. What a beautiful, mild face that lady's is!"

"Ah!" said the old lady, "painters always make ladies out prettier than they are, or they wouldn't get any custom, child. The man that invented the machine for taking likenesses might have known (r)that¯ would never succeed; it's a deal too honest. A deal," said the old lady, laughing very heartily at her own acuteness.

"Is — is that a likeness, ma'am?" said Oliver.

"Yes," said the old lady, looking up for a moment from the broth; "that's a portrait."

"Whose, ma'am?" asked Oliver.

"Why, really, my dear, I don't know," answered the old lady in a good-humoured manner. "It's not a likeness of anybody that you or I know, I expect. It seems to strike your fancy, dear."

"It is so very pretty," replied Oliver.

"Why, sure you're not afraid of it?" said the old lady: observing, in great surprise, the look of awe with which the child regarded the painting.

"Oh no, no," returned Oliver quickly; "but the eyes look so sorrowful; and where I sit, they seem fixed upon me. It makes my heart beat," added Oliver in a low voice, "as if it was alive, and wanted to speak to me, but couldn't."

"Lord save us!" exclaimed the old lady, starting; "don't talk in that way, child. You're weak and nervous after your illness. Let me wheel your chair round to the other side; and then you won't see it. There!" said the old lady, suiting the action to the word; "you don't see it now, at all events."

Oliver did see it in his mind's eye as distinctly as if he had not altered his position; but he thought it better not to worry the kind old lady; so he smiled gently when she looked at him; and Mrs. Bedwin, satisfied that he felt more comfortable, saited and broke bits of toasted bread into the broth, with all the bustle befitting so solemn a preparation. Oliver got through it with extraordinary expedition. He had scarcely swallowed the last spoonful, when there came a soft rap at the door. "Come in," said the old lady; and in walked Mr. Brownlow.

Now, the old gentleman came in as brisk as need be; but, he had no sooner raised his spectacles on his forehead, and thrust his hands behind the skirts of his dressing-gown to take a good long look at Oliver, than his countenance underwent a very great variety of odd contortions. Oliver looked very worn and shadowy from sickness, and made an ineffectual attempt to stand up, out of respect to his benefactor, which terminated in his sinking back into the chair again; and the fact is, if the truth must be told, that Mr. Brownlow's heart, being large enough for any six ordinary old gentlemen of humane disposition, forced a supply of tears into his eyes, by some hydraulic process which we are not sufficiently philosophical to be in a condition to explain.

"Poor boy, poor boy!" said Mr. Brownlow, clearing his throat. "I'm rather hoarse this morning, Mrs. Bedwin. I'm afraid I have caught cold."


Commentary:

Here is Victorian sentimentalism at its most effective deployment, as The writer introduces it obliquely, when the kindly Mr. Brownlow attempts to explain away rationally his tears of sympathy for the suffering child whose plight moved him to enact the role of the charitable traveller in "The Gospel According to St. Luke," 10:25-37. The telling detail in this picture is the biblical illustration above the mantelpiece (right). The subject, discernible even in so small a space, is the New Testament "Parable of the Good Samaritan." Although not mentioned by Dickens, the inset illustration serves as an analogue for the ministrations of the tender-hearted Mr. Brownlow and his kindly housekeeper, who has nursed Oliver back from the brink of death. Brownlow's conduct towards a total stranger, and, moreover, a person who is not member of his own class, must assure him eternal life, if Jesus in the parable is to be believed. However, instead of merely leaving the emaciated youth in charge of an innkeeper as in the parable, Brownlow brings the boy into his own home to recuperate.

This scene of Oliver's charitable and even loving adults contrasts previous scenes, including that of the "false" Samaritan, the master-thief Fagin; again, as in Oliver introduced to the respectable Old Gentleman, Cruikshank has positioned Oliver to the right and his saviours to the left, Mrs. Bedwin occupying the central position taken by the Artful Dodger in the earlier illustration.

All the other details in the little room bespeak comfort, tidiness, and good order, all features of the occupant, Mrs. Bedwin (a name suggestive, perhaps of "Bedouin," and therefore an oblique allusion to the Holy Land). The adults are framed by the large wardrobe (left rear), while Oliver is framed by his chair back and hassock; the effect is to draw the eye upward and to the right, to the portrait of a young lady. The detailing of the fireplace, including the bric a brac and the small cat, is pure Cruikshank.

The Good Samaritan, by the way, was something of a favorite subject with Victorian painters such as George Frederic Watts (1852) and John Everett Millais (1863). Indeed, the parable seems to have been a commonplace for philanthropic activity among the upper-middle and upper classes, as in the low relief sculpture for Sarah Elizabeth Wardroper by George Tinworth (1893-94).



I'm really sorry, I see I left a spoiler in this commentary. I was in a rush, I thought I had left myself plenty of time to post the illustrations before I had to leave for my pain management injection, but obviously I didn't and rushed through this one. I still have others to post now that I'm home in more pain than I was when I left, but I will read the commentaries carefully again.


message 33: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6381 comments Mod


"What's become of the boy?"

Chapter 13

James Mahoney

Household Edition 1871

Text Illustrated:

"Where's Oliver?" said the Jew, rising with a menacing look. "Where's the boy?"

The young thieves eyed their preceptor as if they were alarmed at his violence; and looked uneasily at each other. But they made no reply.

"What's become of the boy?" said the Jew, seizing the Dodger tightly by the collar, and threatening him with horrid imprecations. "Speak out, or I'll throttle you!"

Mr. Fagin looked so very much in earnest, that Charley Bates, who deemed it prudent in all cases to be on the safe side, and who conceived it by no means improbable that it might be his turn to be throttled second, dropped upon his knees, and raised a loud, well-sustained, and continuous roar — something between a mad bull and a speaking trumpet.

"Will you speak?" thundered the Jew: shaking the Dodger so much that his keeping in the big coat at all, seemed perfectly miraculous.

"Why, the traps have got him, and that's all about it," said the Dodger, sullenly. "Come, let go o' me, will you!" And, swinging himself, at one jerk, clean out of the big coat, which he left in the Jew's hands, the Dodger snatched up the toasting fork, and made a pass at the merry old gentleman's waistcoat; which, if it had taken effect, would have let a little more merriment out than could have been easily replaced.


Commentary:

In London, having unwittingly joined a gang of pickpockets, a scene strikingly presented in George Cruikshank's sequence of illustrations for the monthly instalments in Bentley's Miscellany, in the April 1837 steel engraving in Fagin's hideout, Oliver introduced to the respectable Old Gentleman, Oliver joins the leading felons, the Artful Dodger and Charley bates on an expedition. Shocked when he realizes the nature of their "trade," Oliver runs, and is mistaken for a pickpocket himself. The affair ends well for Oliver, whom Mr. Brownlow takes into his care at his mansion at Pentonville in Chapter 12, but less satisfactorily for the real thieves.

Whereas Cruikshank, in collaboration with Dickens himself, elected to realize the scene in which Mr. Brownlow and his kindly housekeeper, Mrs. Bedwin, attempt to make Oliver comfortable and speed his recuperation — Oliver recovering from the fever, Mahoney instead focuses on the consequences for Fagin, Charley, and the Dodger of Oliver's providential escape. Mahoney's Charley is suitably upset (right of centre), but plucky Jack Dawkins asserts himself against the tyranny of the old fence (left), as Fagin roughly grabs him by the sleeve. In the surrounding text, an "old gentleman" of quite a different character and social station, likewise accoutered in a dressing gown, is cosetting the boys' erstwhile companion, temporarily at least freed from Fagin's clutches. Thus, in the Household Edition James Mahoney elicits the reader's sympathy for Fagin's instruments while displaying the master thief's real nature. However, Mahoney's treatment lacks entirely the humorous note that Dickens sounds throughout his description of events back at the gang's headquarters.


message 34: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6381 comments Mod


Return of the boys without Oliver

Chapter 13

Frederic W. Pailthorpe

1886

Text Illustrated:

"Where's Oliver?" said the Jew, rising with a menacing look. "Where's the boy?"

The young thieves eyed their preceptor as if they were alarmed at his violence; and looked uneasily at each other. But they made no reply.

"What's become of the boy?" said the Jew, seizing the Dodger tightly by the collar, and threatening him with horrid imprecations. "Speak out, or I'll throttle you!"

Mr. Fagin looked so very much in earnest, that Charley Bates, who deemed it prudent in all cases to be on the safe side, and who conceived it by no means improbable that it might be his turn to be throttled second, dropped upon his knees, and raised a loud, well-sustained, and continuous roar — something between a mad bull and a speaking trumpet.

"Will you speak?" thundered the Jew: shaking the Dodger so much that his keeping in the big coat at all, seemed perfectly miraculous.

"Why, the traps have got him, and that's all about it," said the Dodger, sullenly. "Come, let go o' me, will you!" And, swinging himself, at one jerk, clean out of the big coat, which he left in the Jew's hands, the Dodger snatched up the toasting fork, and made a pass at the merry old gentleman's waistcoat; which, if it had taken effect, would have let a little more merriment out than could have been easily replaced.



An 1885 collection of color illustrations from Oliver Twist was produced by the artist Frederick Pailthorpe, who also illustrated Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. Like George Cruikshank, Oliver Twist's original illustrator and a friend of Pailthorpe, Pailthorpe uses satire and caricature in his interpretations of the novel's scenes and characters.


message 35: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments Fagin reminds me of the Wicked Witch of the West (East?) for some reason. Just change "My Dear" to "My Pretty." That was the Wizard of Oz, right?

The Dodger and Charley Bates's ages seem to change with the scenes. Depending on what he is doing, Charley appears to be anywhere between the age of Oliver to 18 or 19, while the Dodger appears to be anywhere between 15 -- 30.

Wonder how Fagin will feel losing his Dear boy?

What did Oliver think Fagin was teaching him when he had him practice pulling a hanky out of his pocket? Didn't anyone steal at the Workhouse?


message 36: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments Kim wrote: "I wonder what it says about me when, although there are quite a few people in this book I would like to poison, or at least hurt in some way, the guy who dares to kick his dog is at the top of the ..."

It says you're just as normal as I am (take that for what it's worth!). The people you would like to hurt are, undoubtedly, despicable. Bullseye is as innocent as Dick or Oliver. It's one of the reasons Sikes is one of my most loathed Dickens villains.


message 37: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "What did Oliver think Fagin was teaching him when he had him practice pulling a hanky out of his pocket? Didn't anyone steal at the Workhouse?..."

Yes, Xan! Where did Oliver's morals and values come from? His mother's kiss certainly didn't bestow those virtues to him. He had no books or TV to show him a different way. I'm sure he heard Biblical quotes throughout his life, but would guess they were more along the lines of "spare the rod..." than "love thy neighbor..."


message 38: by Xan (last edited Jun 20, 2018 05:17AM) (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments Mary Lou wrote: "Where did Oliver's morals and values come from?..."

I wonder if this isn't a compromise on Dickens' part. Given the time period and era, isn't it possible that readers wouldn't have bought into Oliver's plight if he had displayed more realistic behavior given his surroundings? The poor are almost unanimously guilty of some crime of birth and circumstance. If Oliver had shown any behavior that justified such a belief, he would have been written off by readers.

Maybe!!!


message 39: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4853 comments Mod
Peter, you asked what we think about Mr. Brownlow's appearance at this point of the novel, and here are my two cents:

Dickens might have felt it was high time to introduce a more likeable character, not only to appease Kim, but also to establish a dichotomy between two worlds, a friendly one and a grim one. Brownlow and his world give us as readers some direly-needed relief from the darkness of Fagin's den and the evils of the workhouse, but they also add new tension to the novel. Oliver is no longer an aimless individual, pitched against a hostile environment, but there is a concrete aim, namely to escape Fagin into the haven of respectability, care and love. We are asking ourselves, from now on: Will Oliver make it? And we will see how in the following chapters, Dickens uses this tension between the two worlds in order even to increase our anxiety.


message 40: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4853 comments Mod
One question that has already popped up and that, to me, is one of the most obvious flaws of the novel, is the one whether Oliver is too good to be true. Someone asked if Oliver might not have already seen people steal in the workhouse, and I'd say this is indeed a point that seems likely to me. Mary Lou wondered if Oliver's mother's kiss could have been so inspiring as to instil the boy with all the Christian values we see him possessed of. It must have been the case because there could be no other source of these in the workhouse. Last not least I wonder that Oliver's language is first class English without any grammatical mistakes. Where on earth should he have picked that up?

Oliver is indeed a miracle, but as Xan said, Dickens might have been well-advised to present him as pure and decent in order to raise Victorian readers' sympathy.


message 41: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments Peter wrote: "It says much about the treatment of impoverished children. In many ways, children were simply little adults, ripe for the picking and exploitation by both cruel people and an insensitive system. ..."

What struck me is how the police officer interceded when Oliver was too scared to answer Fang's questions. He answers the questions for Oliver and gets every single one of them right without the benefit of Oliver's input. Dickens way of showing the number of children who ran the justice system's gauntlet every day, many of them guilty of nothing more than being abandoned orphans.


message 42: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3444 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "Peter, you asked what we think about Mr. Brownlow's appearance at this point of the novel, and here are my two cents:

Dickens might have felt it was high time to introduce a more likeable charact..."


Tristram

Yes. I definitely think Brownlow was needed for balance. Let’s remember that he was at a bookstall when he first encountered Oliver. Books ... will a book appear in the future? What will it be its contents, who will be its owner ... ?


message 43: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments Peter wrote: "The same phrase “my dear” while a common enough appellation, helps to frame the two worlds that Oliver has awakened into. ..."

Fagin, the doctor, and Brownlow all call Oliver "My Dear." Have we come across a woman yet who has called him this?

...with sundry tumblings forward, and divers moans and chokings ...

I just love this, Dickens getting 'sundry' and 'divers' into the same sentence.

Well, we will see the portrait plot device used again, won't we?


message 44: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments Are you surprised that Dickens has introduced the probable connection between Brownlow and Oliver so early in the story? ...

In such an obvious and forthright way, yes. But this is something I've been noticing, Dickens is far less subtle. Sometimes the narrator is quite blunt and forceful in his criticisms, while the later Dickens uses exaggeration and humor to kneecap his targets.


message 45: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3444 comments Mod
Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Peter wrote: "The same phrase “my dear” while a common enough appellation, helps to frame the two worlds that Oliver has awakened into. ..."

Fagin, the doctor, and Brownlow all call Oliver "My Dea..."


Hi Xan

Hmmm ... it is Dickens. :-))


message 46: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Fagin, the doctor, and Brownlow all call Oliver "My Dear." Have we come across a woman yet who has called him this?

Yes - I believe Mrs. Bedwin has called him that, too.


message 47: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6381 comments Mod
Just bring Esther from Bleak House to visit, she will "my dear", "my love", and "my pet" him to death.


message 48: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6381 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "One question that has already popped up and that, to me, is one of the most obvious flaws of the novel, is the one whether Oliver is too good to be true. Someone asked if Oliver might not have alre..."

I can't believe I have to say this even earlier than the last time we read this book...... grump. It was a little bit hard for me to say that at all this time. I suppose I'll get used to only calling you grump, unless someone else wants to join in.


message 49: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1340 comments Tristram wrote: "Dickens might have felt it was high time to introduce a more likeable character, not only to appease Kim..."

I have to say I like the idea of Dickens writing to appease Kim. And he did seem to feel a connection to his readers!


message 50: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6381 comments Mod
And he picked the perfect time, I was working up to murdering someone in the book then. Just about anyone up to that point.


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