The Characters of “Oliver Twist” the novel by Charles Dickens

Character List

Oliver Twist –  The novel’s staring role. Our star is orphaned into a life in a workhouse as result of his mother being found dying in the street, Charles Dickens uses the situation of Oliver being in a workhouse in order to expose his views of the vile workhouse and the poverty law that had been passed in Victorian London. Our heroin Oliver Twist is somewhere between nine to twelve years of age as the majority of the novel unfolds. You would assume that with the barbaric treatment that Oliver receives throughout his life that he would in fact be a bitter and twisted soul, on the contrary, Oliver is a pious, innocent child, whose charming demeanor  plays on the heart strings of a series of wealthy benefactors. Oliver’s  actual identity is at the very heart of the novel and unfolds towards the conclusion of the novel.


Fagin –  A despicable life long criminal. Fagin is a convincing and conniving man who prays on homeless children by offering them board and lodgings to win over their trust. Once the child is won over Fagin trains the innocence to pick pockets for him. Fagin also trades in the stolen goods of others. One to distance himself from the front line Fagin very rarely carries out illegal activity himself.


Nancy –  One of Fagin’s former child pickpockets now turned prostitute. As if life was not tough enough she is also the notorious Bill Sikes’s lover. Alike many others in the novel Nancy takes a shine for Oliver and she questions her love for Bill when he abuses Oliver. Regardless of her illegal activity Nancy is by far one of the noblest feature characters in the Oliver Twist novel. The greatest example of Nancy’s moral servitude to Oliver must be when she gave her life to save his. (Bill Sikes murders Nancy after she is overheard on London Bridge)


Bill Sikes  –  One of Fagin’s first disciples, Sikes is a brutal professional burglar trained in Fagin’s gang. As well as a thief Sikes doubles as Nancy’s pimp and as well as her  lover. Sikes show equal respect to his English Bulldog Bull’s-eye, a mixture of cruelty and hard earned affection. Bill Sikes shows his true inhumanity with His brutal murder of his lover Nancy.


Rose Maylie –  Sister of Agnes Fleming. Rose was raised by Mrs Maylie after the death of her father. A truly beautiful and compassionate soul. Rose show a lot of compassion to Oliver even before it is unraveled trough the novel  that the two gentle souls are in fact related.


Mr. Brownlow –  A wealthy, decent gentleman who sees the potential in Oliver and subsequently takes him in. It transpires that Mr. Brownlow owns a commissioned portrait of Agnes Fleming (Rose Maylies’s Sister) and at the time of Mr. Leeford’s sisters death was engaged to her. Mr Brownlow always acts with absolute decency and compassion for Oliver Twist.


Monks –  A nasty and unpredictable young chap, known for violent rages and seething with a stupendous level of hatred for the world. Monks couples with Fagin to make Oliver’s life impossible.


Mr. Leeford –  The father of Oliver and Monks’s who tragically dies long before our story begins. A bright man who resided miserably in a family arranged marriage to a wealthy woman. In the build up to the novel Mr Leeford separates from his wife and engages in an illicit love affair with the good lady Agnes Fleming, the result was Oliver Twist. In a moment of despair and love the two couple attempted to elope to be together, unfortunately Mr Leeford Died before they could get away.


Agnes Fleming –  Oliver Twist’s mother. In the time leading up to the time of the tale Agnes falls deeply in love with Mr. Leeford, as a result she falls pregnant outside of wedlock. Being a highly moral woman and not wanting to tarnish her families good reputation Agnes opts for a life in the work house where she dies and our tale begins . Agnes was the daughter of a retired naval officer, a truly beautiful, caring woman.


Mr. Bumble  –  A power monger and self important man. Although a minor church official for the workhouse, Mr. Bumble professes to be a good Christian man, however his treatment of the poor within his care tells another story. Dickens mercilessly satirizes his self-righteousness, greed, hypocrisy, and folly, of which his name is an obvious symbol.


Toby Crackit –  An associate of Fagin and Bill Sikes’s, Not of intelligence. Toby takes part in the burglary of Mrs. Maylie’s home which leads to Oliver’s Salvation.


Mr. Losberne –  Mrs. Maylie’s family physician. Mr. Losberne is extremely loyal to the Maylies and Oliver, some may say a hot-tempered man  but good hearten all the same.


Mrs. Maylie –  The adoptive “aunt” of Rose and mother of Harry Maylie. A lovely, Kind, wealthy mature woman.


Harry Maylie –  The born son of Mrs. Maylie’s. Harry is a highly driven and dashing young man who sports impressive political views and ambitions. Harry sacrifices all of his ambitions to marry Rose.


The Artful Dodger –  One of the most colorful characters in the novel and by far the most skilled of Fagin’s pickpockets. The Dodger’s born identity  is that of  Jack Dawkins. Dodger is responsible for introducing Oliver to Fagin. A wise, savvy and independent individual Dodger is no older than Oliver Twist although his demeanor and dress is that of a mature man.


Charley Bates –  Another of Fagin’s faithful pickpockets. Charley is a colorful character who is prepared to laugh at anytime.


Old Sally –  An old poor midwife/woman who tends as a nurse at the time of Oliver’s birth. Old Sally swipes a gold locket that is the possession of  Agnes’s. This locket is the only clue that would have pointed to the true identity of Oliver.


Mrs. Corney –  The wife of Mr Bumble and matron of the workhouse. A callous and hypocritical women, with materialistic tendencies.


Noah Claypole –  Mr. Sowerberry’s apprentice. Noah is an overgrown, cowardly bully. He repeatedly mistreats Oliver Twist and eventually joins Fagin’s gang.


Charlotte –  The maid to Mr Sowerberry. Charlotte becomes entwined romantically with Noah Claypole and follows him around like rejected dog.


Mrs. Bedwin –  A kindhearted woman with great judge of character and Mr. Brownlow’s housekeeper. It’s this good judge of character that results in Mrs. Bedwin not believing Mr. Bumble’s negative report of Oliver’s character.


Bull’s-eye –  A Viscous dog owned by Bill Sikes. As temperament that matches that of his master. It is said that Bull’s-eye represents Sikes’s alter ego.


Mr. Gamfield –  Oliver has a narrow escape when he very nearly becomes the apprentice to this brutal chimney sweep.


Monks’s mother –  , Mr. Leeford wife and wealthy heiress who lived a decadent life and alienated her husband. In a moment of pure spite Monks’s mother destroys Mr. Leeford’s will and testament that bestows part of his inheritance to Oliver.


Mr. Sowerberry  – Oliver’s first employer to whom he is apprenticed. Although Mr. Sowerberry’s living is a hideous affair, arranging and carrying out cut-rate burials for paupers, it is to be said that Mr Sowerberry is a decent man who treats Oliver Twist well.


Mrs. Sowerberry –  The wife of Mr Sowerberry. A callous henpecking old woman who treats Oliver and her husband with equal disrespect.


Mr. Giles –  A Pompous butler who is in the service to Mrs. Maylie.


Barney –  A Jewish man and criminal associate to Fagin.


Mr. Brittles –  A slightly mentally handicapped handyman for Mrs. Maylie.


Mrs. Mann –  The superintendent to the workhouse where Oliver Twist is raised. Mrs. Mann is a vile woman who physically abuses and starves the children who are placed in her care.


Bet –  Like Nancy Bet is one of Fagin’s former child pickpockets, now turned to prostitution.


Mr. Fang –  The incredibly harsh, irrational, power-monger magistrate who sits in the dock and presides over Oliver’s trial for pickpocketing.


Barney –  A Jewish man and criminal associate to Fagin.

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