Theme Analysis on Pursuit of Friendship in Oliver Twist




Oliver Twist is one of the most successful novels created by Charles Dickens, the most outstanding novelist in the 19th century, from 1837 to 1838. The plot twists and turns around Oliver with a great number of necessary subplots, which involve in more characters to enrich the experience of the hero. This novel is highly connected with the society, helping fully expose the crimes at that time to praise virtue and push vice. By perusing the novel, it is easy to find that Oliver Twist is not only an adventure story but also a masterpiece of getting rid of loneliness and pursuing friends at that time.

1. Profile of Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist depicts a story of a young orphan, Oliver, and his attempts to stay good in a society that refuses to help. A young pregnant woman not known to anyone in the town collapsed in the street and was sent to the workhouse. And she died right after giving birth to Oliver Twist. Without getting any nursing from his mother, Oliver Twist had lived alone in a private juvenile home for 9 years and was sent then to the coffin-makers shop as an apprentice. Helplessly, he escaped to London and was forced to be a pickpocket by Fagin. Luckily, he was saved by Mr. Brownlow, a wealthy gentleman. However, he was discovered by Fagin and kidnapped again to the hideout. And that time, Nancy, a female pickpocket, who was kind and beautiful felt guilty and stepped in to defend Oliver. She had made great efforts to rescue Oliver and told Mr. Brownlow secretly about the situation Oliver was in. Sadly, she was killed by Fagin ruthlessly. Finally, Oliver reunited with his family after breaking down a great number of barriers.

2. Basis of Being Friends

Generally speaking, human beings are going through all kinds of loneliness during their lives and the establishment of friendship among their companions is the best way to relieve such loneliness. And only the agreement of values could make people to be real friends.

3. Olivers Experience of Pursuing Friends

3.1 Failure of Pursuing Friends

3.1.1 In Coffin-makers Shop as an Apprentice

When Oliver turned 9, he was sent to the workhouse where he was treated badly and practically starved. The other boys, unable to stand their hunger any longer, decided to draw straws to choose who would have to go up and ask for more food. Oliver lost. On the appointed day, after finishing his first serving of gruel, he went up and asked for more. Mr. Bumble, the beadle, and the board were outraged. As a result, Oliver could make no friends any longer. Oliver was forced then to the coffin-makers shop as an apprentice. In the coffin-makers shop, he no longer suffered from starving and acquired handicraft. Therefore, he believed that he finally got friends and would never be lonely again. However, to his surprise, the food Mr. And Mrs. Sowerberry offered him was the leftover of dogs. Furthermore, another apprentice, Noah Claypole, had it in for Oliver from the start and kept offending him by making fun of his mothers death. Enraged by Noah, Oliver at last knocked him down. After being abused some more, Oliver decided to set out for London for friends.

3.1.2 Trapped in the Hand of Fagin

On his way to London, Oliver has suffered from cold and starving for 7 days and met Jack Dawkins when he was exhausted. Dawkins bought him lunch and offered to introduce him to a "gentleman" in London who would give him a place to stay. And Oliver suddenly set up for making a real friend. However, the appearance of Mr. Brownlow made him to realize that he was trapped in the hideout of pickpockets. Oliver was kind in his deep heart, and he was not willing to be a pickpocket. Even if Fagin wanted to trained him to be a professional pickpocket, sick little Oliver assumed shameful of stealing. And he was finally saved by Mr. Brownlow after twists and turns.

3.2 Success of Pursuing Friends

Out of the sympathy toward Oliver, Mr. Brownlow adopted him. During his staying in Mr. Brownlows house, Oliver experienced the caring the family offered him. And he received considerate care from the old housekeeper. He gradually noticed the kindness of Mr. Brownlow. He found it that Mr. Brownlow was completely different from Fagin, who would force him to be a pickpocket. And he would never need to worry about being abandoned. He finally found a real friend, which was realized based on the same values both Oliver and Mr. Brownlow hold.

Nevertheless, Green Ludwig, Mr. Brownlows friend kept doubting Oliver and believed that Oliver was totally a liar. Since Mr. Brownlow opposed that, the two gentlemen placed a bet to prove the personality of Oliver. Mr. Brownlow gave Oliver 5 pounds to help him do errands to see whether he would be back or not. Unluckily, Oliver was kidnapped on his way out by Fagin and trapped into the hideout again.

Nancy, the kind and beautiful pickpocket, reluctantly to make Oliver to be a pickpocket again and made great efforts to rescue him. In spite of the supervision and threatens Fagin made to her, Nancy secretly let Mr. Brownlow know that Oliver was the grandson he had been looking for for many years. To rescue Oliver, Nancy was killed by Fagin, which made the police to destroy the hideout. And finally, Oliver reunited with his family after a great deal of difficulties.

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, Oliver Twist is a masterpiece to reveal the essence of being friends—the agreement of values, which is fully exhibited through his failure and success of pursuing friends.


[1] He Jie. The Combat between Two Worlds—Analysis on Two Editions of Oliver Twist[J]. Journal of Huaihai Institute of Technology (Social Sciences Edition), 2011(01).

[2] Gu Yuanhua. Analysis on the Fate of Nancy in Oliver Twist[J]. Journal of Nanchang College of Education, 2011(10).

(作者单位:Class 602 Hengshui High School, Hebei Province)


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