A guide to the many characters in Oliver Twist
In this, the second of Dickens’ novels, we already have a range of characters that have become immortal. Dickens was to go on with that creation of immortal characters, so many that now it would be difficult to count them. Amongst the classic Oliver Twist characters we have the unforgettable Fagin and Mr Bumble. There are also The Artful Dodger and Bill Sykes and his girlfriend, Nancy.
Oliver is a passive protagonist. Things are done to him rather than him doing anything. Other characters act around him and most of them are far more interesting than he is.
The villains of Oliver Twist are the novel’s most interesting and memorable characters. Bill Sikes is completely evil: he is stupid, brutal, and insensitive. He lives his life by threatening people and being physically violent to anything or anyone who gets in his way – even his faithful dog. Fagin is clever, crafty, devious, and manipulative.
The good characters in the novel are relatively uninteresting. Rose Maylie represents the ideal Victorian woman – sweet, loving, and giving. She has no faults and that makes her unbelievable. Mr. Brownlow is more interesting; he actively supports Oliver, leads the fight against the villains, and is characterised with minor weaknesses.
Nancy struggles with her conscience. She is one of the criminals but she has many good qualities. She eventually betrays her friends to protect Oliver. Her life is an example of the conditions most homeless children would grow up to exist in as a result of having been raised by someone like Fagin.
Dickens’ fictional creations represent a cross-section of society— chimney-sweepers, wealthy misers, criminals, judges, and any variety of person one could meet in Victorian society. They are notable for the vividness with which they are described. By emphasizing how these characters talk, dress, and move, Dickens was able to provide clear, easily imagined pictures that have inspired illustrators for nearly two centuries and proven themselves adaptable to dramatists, cinematographers, composers, and fashion designers. During the last two centuries, artists have had fun imagining them in their drawings and paintings and actors have relished representing them on the stage and on the screen. Fagin has been played by a long line of the most distinguished actors in British and American culture, such as Lon Chaney, Alec Guinness, Ron Moody, George C Scott, Richard Dreyfuss, Ben Kingsley, Rowan Atkinson, Neil Morrissey, and many more.
Oliver Twist character list
Oliver Twist – an orphan whose mother died at his birth
Mr Bumble – a beadle in the parish workhouse where Oliver was born
Mrs Mann – superintendent where the infant Oliver is placed until age 9
Mr Sowerberry – an undertaker who takes Oliver as an apprentice
Mrs Sowerberry – Mr Sowerberry’s wife
Noah Claypole –Sowerberry’s apprentice, who bullies Oliver
Charlotte – the Sowerberrys’ maid
Mr Gamfield – a chimney sweep in the town where Oliver was born
Mr Brownlow – a kindly gentleman who takes Oliver in
Mr Grimwig – a friend of Mr. Brownlow
Mrs Bedwin – Mr Brownlow’s housekeeper
Rose Maylie – Oliver’s second benefactor, later found to be his aunt
Mrs Lindsay Maylie – Rose Maylie’s adoptive aunt
Harry Maylie – Mrs Maylie’s son
Mr Losberne – Mrs Maylie’s family doctor
Mr Giles – Mrs Maylie’s butler
Mr Brittles – Mrs Maylie’s handyman
Duff and Blathers – policemen
Fagin – a fence
Bull Sikes – a professional burglar
The Artful Dodger – Fagin’s most effective pickpocket
Charley Bates – a boy in Fagin’s gang
Toby Crackit – a criminal, associate of Fagin and Sikes,
Nancy – Bill Sikes’s girlfriend
Bet – friend to Nancy
Barney – a criminal cohort of Fagin
Agnes Fleming – Oliver’s mother
Mr Leeford – Oliver’s father
Old Sally – a nurse who attended Oliver’s birth
Mrs Corney – matron in the women’s workhouse
Monks – an associate of Fagin’s, and long-lost half-brother of Oliver
Monks’ mother – an heiress who did not love her husband
Mr Fang – a magistrate
Tom Chitling – one of Fagin’s gang members
That’s our guide to Oliver Twist characters. Make sense? Any questions? Let us know in the comments section below!