Oliver Twist | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Oliver Twist | Chapters 34–36 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 34

Giles has fetched Harry Maylie, who arrives shortly after the doctor has announced the good news. Harry reproaches his mother for waiting so long before sending word that Rose was ill. Mrs. Maylie warns him against marrying Rose; she worries that later in life something may be discovered about Rose's unknown past that would cause him to regret the marriage. She says that she will not stop Harry from asking Rose to marry him but implies that Rose herself may turn him down for love of him. Rose continues to improve, and Oliver is happy. One evening he falls asleep over his studies and dreams of Fagin talking about him with another man. He starts awake to find the two of them staring in the window at him, and the man with Fagin is the same one he ran into at the inn.

Chapter 35

Oliver cries out, and the household comes running. Oliver points in the direction Fagin took, and Harry Maylie runs off to find the old thief, followed by Oliver, Giles, and Mr. Losberne. But they search in vain. Several days later, as Mrs. Maylie foretold, Rose turns down Harry's marriage proposal because she does not want her low beginnings to damage his prospects in life. She does, however, admit that she loves him. Harry says that he will ask her once more in a year's time.

Chapter 36

Oliver has breakfast with Mr. Losberne and Harry Maylie, who are preparing to leave for home. The two men discuss Harry's career prospects. He is to become a member of parliament before the end of the year. Before he leaves Harry asks Oliver to write to him twice a month with news of the family. Unseen, Rose cries as she watches the post-chaise, a small carriage that holds two passengers, carry the men away.

Analysis

The figure of Monks is reminiscent of a Gothic villain. His long cloak, which disguises his shape and identity, intensifies his mysterious and threatening nature, and his name, Monks, recalls the title of one of the best-selling of the original romantic-era Gothic novels, Matthew Gregory Lewis's The Monk ( 1796). Although Monks does not frequent the castles and ruins typical of the Gothic genre, he often appears in dark, dangerous settings. Gothic novels also featured the dreamlike, eerie, and inexplicable. It is dreamlike when Oliver wakes to find Fagin and Monks peering in the window at him and eerie and inexplicable that his friends can find no trace of the two men afterward.

At the beginning of Chapter 36, Mr. Losberne says to Harry that "the great nobs ... will get [him] into parliament at the election before Christmas." In Victorian England members of parliament did not receive a salary, so they had to be extremely rich to be able to afford to serve. Typically, a group of wealthy supporters, or nobs, would sponsor the political career of a man who did not have the necessary means. But to retain their support, the candidate had to meet their criteria. For Harry, among other things, that meant having a wife who was above reproach.

Mr. Losberne and Harry Maylie leave in a post-chaise, a small carriage that held two passengers. It was called "post" because it was the only type of carriage besides a mail coach or stagecoach that could change out its team of horses at various stages of its journey. This meant that the vehicle could keep traveling rather than stopping for the animals to feed and rest. While most middle-class travelers would use a mail coach or stagecoach, those with more money would travel in their own or a rented post-chaise.

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