Tag Archives: Oliver Twist

Just another hanging

In chapter 2 of 1984 we meet Winston’s neighbors, the Parsons.
There’s dreary, whiny Mrs. Parsons.
Not at home is her overgrown, sweaty, man-child husband Tom.
They have two children.  Bratty, rotten children who sling a catapult bullet at Winston.

The children are mad because they want to go see the Eurasian prisoners’ hanging.  Dad won’t be home in time to take them, and mom’s too busy.

Winston explains that a hanging is a popular event for people to attend.
“Children always clamored to be taken to see it.”

This is a culture that embraces violence.

Sikes' hanging Bullseye Step into Classics

Remember when we read Oliver Twist?  I was concerned by this illustration in a children’s edition of the classic that showed dead Sikes dangling from the rooftop.  I wanted to shield my children from the pen and ink drawing of the violent scene.  The Parsons’ kids begged to experience the horror in person.

The three INGSOC slogans are

War is Peace.

Freedom is Slavery.

Ignorance is Strength.

I’d add, “Murder is Entertainment.”

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Posted by on October 25, 2013 in 1984


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Book II

Bessie suspects Bigger has murdered Mary Dalton.  Bigger threatens to kill Bessie if she won’t help him.

“You already in it” he said.  “You got part of the money.”
“I reckon it don’t make no difference,” she sighed.
“It’ll be easy.”
“It won’t.  I’ll get caught.  But it don’t make no difference.  I’m lost anyhow.  I was lost when I took up with you.  I’m lost and it don’t matter…”

This scene gave me déjà vu.  It could have been Oliver Twist’s Nancy saying those words to her lover Bill Sikes.

Remember this scene from Dickens’ story?  Just another instance of déjà vu.
Except without the remorse.  Who’d have thought that Sikes had a redeeming quality?  He actually felt guilt for the murder he committed.


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Posted by on September 6, 2013 in Native Son


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Murdering the Venn Diagram

When I read about Raskolnikov’s murder of the pawn-broker Alyona Ivanovna and her sister Lizaveta, I immediately thought of another murderer in our WEM past: Bill Sikes from Oliver Twist.  Do you remember Bill and his vicious dog Bullseye?

I thought about how both Sikes and Raskolnikov bludgeoned their victims.  I thought about how both men cut the bloody spots off their clothing.  I thought about how one beat his victim to death in a bloody rage and how the other took a month to plan the details of his crime.

I thought about how Sikes and Raskolnikov were alike and how they were different.
I compared and contrasted them.  Well, I compared and contrasted them as much as my brain could for reading Oliver Twist way back in November and December.  It’s tough to remember all the details.

Speaking of remembering… do you remember grade school?  Do you remember your teacher showing you how to compare and contrast two things using a Venn diagram?
Venn diagram?
The two circle dealie?

It looks like this.

Humor me.  Put Sikes’ name above the left circle and Raskolnikov’s above the right one.  The characteristics, events, or actions they share go in the parts of the circle that intersect.  The men’s differences go in the parts of the circle that aren’t “shared”.

Help me remember the details.  Are our two murderers more alike or different?  Let’s do a little criminology study.  Share Sikes/Raskolnikov details in the comments, and I will fill in the circles.


Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Crime and Punishment, Oliver Twist


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Graphic Oliver

For my next installment of “What’s on my nightstand?” I had to ask for an expert’s help: someone who was familiar with the graphic novel format.  I chose to move this book from my nightstand to my nine-year-old’s nightstand because the next book is Oliver Twist: The Classics Illustrated Deluxe Graphic Novel.

Here’s a portion of my interview with the expert.

Hello? Mom?  It’s not going to be an interview if there are not any questions.
So what do you think I should ask you?
Whatever you want.
Did you like the book?
Yes. I liked it.
Do you think you might consider reading the original?
What were your favorite parts of the book?
I liked the Maylies and how they helped Oliver.
Did Oliver work for Mr. Soweberry?
Who’s he again?
The undertaker.
Does Oliver say, “Please, I’d like some more, sir.”
Did you know that that’s the most famous line from the book?
Who was your favorite character in the book?
I liked Oliver Twist.  He didn’t steal.
What did you think of Fagin?
I didn’t like him.  He used his boys to get money.
Were there any evil characters in the story?
Yes.  Fagin, definitely, and Bill.
How did the story end?
The the police hang Fagin.
What happens to Oliver?
He’s happy with Mr. Brownlow in the end.

It took my expert about forty-five minutes to read this version.  Unlike some graphic novels, the illustrations were not overly scary.  The “bad” characters are meaner looking but still in a cartoony way.  For example Fagin has an enormous nose. Oliver’s depicted as a red-head with a round face.  In the little I flipped through the book, it seems more faithful to the original text than other versions I’ve read.

Oliver Twist: The Classics Illustrated Deluxe Graphic Novel.… it’s what’s on my nine-year-old’s nightstand.

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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Oliver Twist


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Please, sir! I want another movie review.

Both Jeannette and Christina have reviewed versions of Oliver Twist. I decided to do what all the cool kids are doing and check out my own movie version of the classic. I went old-school with David Lean’s 1948 version of Oliver Twist.  The back of the DVD says:

Expressionistic noir photography suffuses David Lean’s Oliver Twist with a nightmarish quality, fitting its bleak, industrial setting. In Dickens’ classic tale, an orphan wends his way from cruel apprenticeship to den of thieves in search of a true home.

My take?  I liked the black and white version.  Oliver is pitiful.  The workhouse seems horrific.  The Sowerberrys are there as are Noah and Charlotte.  Mr. Bumble marries Mrs. Corney.  Fagin’s gang is just as scruffy as it should be, and Fagin is truly wretched.  Fagin’s makeup and false nose keep the viewer from recognizing actor Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi).  Nancy takes the initiative to write to Brownlow about Oliver.  There is only a brief mention of house-breaking.  Sikes kills Nancy the way Dickens would have wanted.  I was impressed with Bulls-eye’s trembling and cowering.  Mr. Brownlow is a doting Grandfather.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Agnes was Brownlow’s daughter, making Oliver his grandson.  This eliminates the need for the Maylies.  Monks is in Lean’s adaptation.  He’s out to get Oliver, but it’s a little unclear as to what his relationship to the orphan is.  The story ends with Sikes being shot then hung as he falls from the rooftop where he has Oliver.  The credits roll as Brownlow and Oliver walk hand-in-hand home. 

I missed all the connections between characters.  For that matter, I missed characters. Verdict?  Entertaining, but like other movie versions of Oliver Twist, it was unfaithful to the novel.

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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Oliver Twist


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Starting Jane

A copy of the novel, a clean page in my journal, and my favorite pen: I am ready to begin Jane Eyre. 

So Jane, like Oliver, is an orphan. I assume that she is meek and mild; a sweet child who is manipulated/oppressed/abused by others.  At first, that’s the I impression I have of Jane. 
Chapter 1 opens with Jane’s aunt and cousins snuggling on the couch.  Jane is not permitted to be part of the group because she’s not a happy enough child.  In my book’s margin I write, “Until she is happier, she may not join them–ha!  as if excluding her will make her happier?” 

Jane sneaks into the breakfast room where she hides in a window-seat with a book, curtains drawn around her to keep the cousins away.  In my journal I write that Jane likes books.  Hiding from the cousins doesn’t work for long.  Cousin John soon finds Jane and uses the opportunity to bully her.  Bronte gives a careful description of John; I write in my journal that he is a chubby, fourteen-year-old bully who has mama wrapped around his pudgy finger.  Jane’s reaction to Cousin John is more than strong.  I underline the following quote: “every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh on my bones shrank when he came near. ”  This is a family member to fear!

John forces Jane to stand before him.  He sticks his tongue out at her.  Her reminds her that she possesses nothing in the house and is worth nothing to the people of the house.  Then he uses her for target practice.  Her takes the book she was reading and throws it at her.  Even though Jane tries to move out-of-the-way, John hits her with the book which causes her to smack into the door, cutting her head open.

Assertive Jane appears.  I underline another quote:
“‘Wicked and cruel boy!’  I said. ‘You are like a murderer– you are like a slave-driver–you are like the Roman emperors!'”  Bronte then tells me that my protagonist has only ever thought these things before and had never spoken them aloud until now.  I make note of this.

Ah, so Jane has a voice.  And now she uses her voice to fight back against those who would attack her. 

There is a hair-pulling, pummeling scuffle.  Of course since the entire house is set against her,  Jane is punished by being locked in the red-room, and Cousin John is comforted.

The chapter ends.  Hmmmm… It appears that Jane Eyre is not as meek/naive/gullible as Oliver Twist.  I’m glad.  I’m ready for some spunk.


Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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Final Twisted Test

I’m finished reading Oliver Twist! 

Okay, so I’ve been finished for a while now, but today I took the Sparknotes test to see what details I remembered.  Feel free to take it yourselves.  Simply click on the link.  Graduate classes end with a paper and an exam.  My version of the paper was completing the WEM “How to Read a Novel” questions, so the Sparknotes quiz was my final test. 

I missed one.

Let me give you a hint for number twenty-four:  Dickens did indeed write Bleak House.

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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in Oliver Twist


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