Oliver Twist

1837–1839 novel by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist, or The Parish Boy's Progress, is the second novel by Charles Dickens, and was first published as a serial 1837–9. The story is of the orphan Oliver Twist, who starts his life in a workhouse and is then apprenticed with an undertaker. He escapes from there and travels to London where he meets the Artful Dodger, a member of a gang of juvenile pickpockets, which is led by the elderly criminal, Fagin.


  • The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration, — a troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered necessary to our easy existence, — and for some time he lay gasping on a little flock mattress, rather unequally poised between this world and the next: the balance being decidedly in favor of the latter. Now, if, during this brief period, Oliver had been surrounded by careful grandmothers, anxious aunts, experienced nurses, and doctors of profound wisdom, he would most inevitably and indubitably have been killed in no time.
    • Chapter 1, "Treats of the Place where Oliver Twist was Born and of the Circumstances Attending His Birth"
  • 'Please, sir, I want some more.'
    • Chapter 2, "Treats Of Oliver Twist's Growth, Education, And Board", said by Oliver Twist
  • Oliver Twist has asked for more!
    • Chapter 2.
  • 'Come,' said Mr. Bumble, somewhat less pompously, for it was gratifying to his feelings to observe the effect his eloquence had produced; 'Come, Oliver! Wipe your eyes with the cuffs of your jacket, and don't cry into your gruel; that's a very foolish action, Oliver.'
    • Chapter 3, "Relates How Oliver Twist Was Very Near Getting A Place Which Would Not Have Been A Sinecure"
  • 'Let him alone!' said Noah. 'Why everybody lets him alone enough, for the matter of that. Neither his father nor his mother will ever interfere with him. All his relations let him have his own way pretty well. Eh, Charlotte? He! he! he!'
    • Chapter 5, "Oliver Mingles With New Associates. Going To A Funeral For The First Time, He Forms An Unfavourable Notion Of His Master's Business"
  • It was a nice sickly season just at this time. In commercial phrase, coffins were looking up.
    • Chapter 6, "Oliver, Being Goaded By The Taunts Of Noah, Rouses Into Action, And Rather Astonishes Him"
  • 'A regular right-down bad 'un, Work'us,' replied Noah, coolly. 'And it's a great deal better, Work'us, that she died when she did, or else she'd have been hard labouring in Bridewell, or transported, or hung; which is more likely than either, isn't it?'
    • Chapter 6.
  • Noah writhed and twisted his body into an extensive variety of eel-like positions; thereby giving Mr. Bumble to understand that, from the violent and sanguinary onset of Oliver Twist, he had sustained severe internal injury and damage, from which he was at that moment suffering the acutest torture.
    • Chapter 7, "Oliver Continues Refractory"
  • 'I am very hungry and tired,' replied Oliver: the tears standing in his eyes as he spoke. 'I have walked a long way. I have been walking these seven days.'
    • Chapter 8, "Oliver Walks To London. He Encounters On The Road A Strange Sort Of Young Gentleman"
  • 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 them strung up in a row, and none left to play booty or turn white-livered!
    • Chapter 9, "Containing Further Particulars Concerning The Pleasant Old Gentleman, And His Hopeful Pupils", said by Fagin
  • '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.
    • Chapter 9.
  • 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.
    • Chapter 10, "Oliver Becomes Better Acquainted With The Characters Of His New Associates; And Purchases Experience At A High Price. Being A Short, But Very Important Chapter, In This History"
  • There is a passion for hunting something deeply implanted in the human breast.
    • Chapter 10.
  • I only know two sorts of boys. Mealy boys, and beef-faced boys.
    • Chapter 10.
  • By what, or by whom, nobody knows, for the clerk and jailor coughed very loud, just at the right moment; and the former dropped a heavy book upon the floor, thus preventing the word from being heard--accidently, of course.
    • Chapter 11, "Treats of Mr. Fang the Police Magistrate; and Furnishes a Slight Specimen of his Mode of Administering Justice"
  • 'Fair, or not fair,' retorted Sikes, 'hand over, I tell you! Do you think Nancy and me has got nothing else to do with our precious time but to spend it in scouting arter, and kidnapping, every young boy as gets grabbed through you? Give it here, you avaricious old skeleton, give it here!'
    • Chapter 16, "Relates What Became Of Oliver Twist, After He Had Been Claimed By Nancy"
  • The mud lay thick upon the stones, and a black mist hung over the streets; the rain fell sluggishly down, and everything felt cold and clammy to the touch. It seemed just the night when it befitted such a being as the Jew to be abroad. As he glided stealthily along, creeping beneath the shelter of the walls and doorways, the hideous old man seemed like some loathsome reptile, engendered in the slime and darkness through which he moved: crawling forth, by night, in search of some rich offal for a meal.
    • Chapter 19, "In Which a Notable Plan is Discussed and Determined On"
  • But death, fires, and burglary, make all men equals...
    • Chapter 28, "Looks After Oliver, and Proceeds with his Adventures"
  • "It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper," said Mr. Bumble. "So cry away."
    • Chapter 37, "In Which the Reader may Perceive a Contrast, Not Uncommon in Matrimonial Cases"
  • Dignity, and even holiness too, sometimes, are more questions of coat and waistcoat than some people imagine.
    • Chapter 37.
  • "If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is a ass — a idiot. If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience."
    • Chapter 51, "Affording an Explanation of More Mysteries Than One, And Comprehending a Proposal of Marriage With No Word of Settle"
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource has original text related to: