Oliver Twist

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Monks Character Analysis

The second of the novel's antagonists, Monks is Oliver's half-brother, and is hellbent on keeping his own fraudulent inheritance by eliminating all traces of Oliver's inheritance, and on making Oliver into a thief so that his name might be ruined. Monks fails in this attempt, after being caught by Brownlow, and admits to his misdeeds and acknowledges Oliver's true parentage.

Monks Quotes in Oliver Twist

The Oliver Twist quotes below are all either spoken by Monks or refer to Monks. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Oliver Twist published in 2002.
Chapter 26 Quotes

I tell you again, it was badly planned. Why not have kept him here among the rest, and made a sneaking, sniveling pickpocket of him at once?

Related Characters: Monks (speaker), Oliver Twist
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

Monks, an associate of Sikes whose relationship to Oliver is, at this point, unclear, is upset that Oliver has been initiated so quickly into serious robbery. He's upset not because he fears that robbery is bad, or thinks that Oliver shouldn't rob things at all. Instead he absolutely supports the idea of Oliver becoming a thief - but he believes that Oliver should be led slowly into the craft, initially via pickpocketing, and then, over time, into larger and larger hauls. Therefore Monks critiques Fagin, in the conversation with Sikes, arguing that Fagin has rushed along Oliver in his "development."

What is interesting to note in this section, too, is how Monks and Fagin are each concerned with Oliver's "development" as a thief, his "education" such as it is. This follows in the tradition of the "Bildungsroman," or coming-of-age novel, in which a character is educated in schools or school-like places, and in which he or she learns the difficulties of life from a young age. For Oliver, this learning often comes outside educational establishments, within the seedy underworld of London. 

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Chapter 33 Quotes

Death! Who would have thought it! Grind him to ashes! He's start up from a marble coffin, to come in my way!

Related Characters: Monks (speaker), Oliver Twist
Related Symbols: Coffins
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

This is an instance of foreshadowing, and of the nature of coincidence and apparent coincidence in the novel. Oliver, running back to the Maylie's house after having delivered a letter for Dr. Losborne, who is to help Rose in her illness, runs straight into the man who will turn out to be Monks. And Monks, though he seems only to "accidentally" be in the same place as Oliver, is indeed following him, and has had his eye on him. Oliver, of course, cannot know this, nor can he know what will be revealed later - that Monks is Oliver's half-brother, and has been trying to frame Oliver as a thief in order to "ruin" Oliver. 

Monks brings up the "coffin" again, a symbol that recurs in the novel. The coffin is emblematic, of course, of the omnipresence of death - and it is also a piece of workmanship, and a trade, into which Oliver almost himself enters. Oliver, wherever he turns, cannot seem to avoid the coffin - they surround him, as does violence and death on the difficult streets of London. 

Chapter 34 Quotes

It was but an instant, a glance, a flash, before his eyes; and they were gone. But they had recognized him, and he them; and their look was as firmly impressed upon his memory, as if it had been deeply carved in stone . . . .

Related Characters: Oliver Twist, Fagin, Monks
Page Number: 214-5
Explanation and Analysis:

Oliver has been attempting to improve himself - to become educated following a lifetime's lack of formal schooling. He does this in the Maylie's home, under their supervision, and in his room there is a space for quiet contemplation and a good deal of work. It is, in short, the life he has always wanted - a life of personal and intellectual freedom. 

But when Monks and Fagin show up, they do so in part,to remind him that they have not forgotten him - that they will hound him for as long as they can. They want to take Oliver back to them as a point of pride - because they believe they are responsible for Oliver's "education," such as they see it. They are also worried that, if Oliver is free, he might be able to point the authorities to them - and that would be the end of their criminal enterprise. 

Chapter 49 Quotes

You must do more than that . . . make restitution to an innocent and unoffending child, for such he is, although the offspring of a guilty and most miserable love . . . .

Related Characters: Mr. Brownlow (speaker), Oliver Twist, Monks
Page Number: 319
Explanation and Analysis:

Brownlow has remained a staunch and dedicated defender of Oliver's throughout the novel, even as other characters have attempted to convince him that Oliver is only using Brownlow for his money and goodwill. Brownlow seems to sense that Oliver has "good" or "noble" (really, wealthy) blood in him - and that, though Oliver might have been the child of an unwed mother, he is nevertheless "deserving," based on his "high birth," of a far greater lot in life than he has already achieved.

That Monks and Brownlow know and have known each other is a surprise to the reader at this stage in the novel - but really should not be, as Dickens has primed the reader to expect coincidences at every turn. The characters in Oliver Twist, as in many Dickens novels, are drawn together in a "net" of overlapping relationships that is often knotted up, or unwound, at the close of the novel - when those relationships are revealed and explained, or else destroyed. 

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Monks Character Timeline in Oliver Twist

The timeline below shows where the character Monks appears in Oliver Twist. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 26
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
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...also asks the chairman, who is the landlord of the establishment, whether a man named Monks will be at the pub that evening. The chairmen replies that none of the men... (full context)
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The man is Monks, whom Fagin had been seeking out. Fagin takes him into a spare room on a... (full context)
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It appears that Monks has a mysterious vested interest in Oliver, and, especially, in Oliver being sent away, but... (full context)
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Monks, paranoid that someone has heard them speak, tells Fagin they must search the dark abandoned... (full context)
Chapter 37
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...all this Bumble, confused, agrees. The man, as he is leaving, gives his name to Bumble—Monks, the same man who was seen with Fagin outside Oliver's window, by the Maylies' house. (full context)
Chapter 38
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Bumble and his wife go to meet Monks, in a shabby old building down by the river Thames. They find him outside and,... (full context)
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Monks produces twenty-five gold coins and gives them to Mrs. Bumble, who begins her story of... (full context)
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...wedding-ring, and two locks of hair. At this, Mrs. Bumble completes her story, and asks Monks whether this is what he wanted, and whether he can use this package or this... (full context)
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Monks then tells Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Bumble that this is all, and tells them, too,... (full context)
Chapter 39
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...gets Nancy the money and seems about to speak to her about something important, when Monks enters the apartment, brusquely. Monks and Fagin go off to the second floor to have... (full context)
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...a genteel neighborhood. Acting on information she has gleaned from the conversation between Fagin and Monks the previous night, she asks after Miss Maylie, to a footman in the hotel, hoping... (full context)
Chapter 40
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Nancy reveals to Rose information she has heard from conversations between Fagin and Monks (whom Rose does not know). Nancy says that Monks has his own reasons for wanting... (full context)
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Nancy reveals the content of tonight's conversation between Monks and Fagin to Rose: Monks said that the only proof of Oliver's family ties lies... (full context)
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This last piece of information is most shocking to Rose. Monks also told Fagin that the Maylies would die to know their relationship to Oliver, but... (full context)
Chapter 41
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...speak again with Nancy on London Bridge, with the aim of getting more information about Monks. Brownlow says that all these developments should be kept from Oliver (who has overheard nothing,... (full context)
Chapter 46
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Brownlow says that, if they cannot secure Monks, then Nancy will have to hand over Fagin to them. Nancy becomes upset at this,... (full context)
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Nancy describes Monks to Rose and Brownlow, and tells how he might be found at the pub the... (full context)
Chapter 49
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Between chapters, Brownlow has found Monks at the Cripples and has brought him, with help from servants, in a carriage back... (full context)
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It is revealed by Monks, when the servants have gone, that Monks is Brownlow's "father's oldest friend." This is, naturally,... (full context)
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Brownlow tells Monks that he has a brother—Monks does not at first admit that this is true. But... (full context)
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Meanwhile, in England, Monks' father became friends with a naval officer with two daughters—one nineteen, and the other only... (full context)
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Brownlow knows this because Monks' father stopped to see Brownlow on his way to Europe to collect his inheritance. At... (full context)
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Brownlow tells Monks that it was he, Brownlow, who took Oliver in off the street, and Fagin purposely... (full context)
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Monks hears all this but still refuses to admit to his plans for Oliver. Monks tells... (full context)
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Brownlow also declares, to Monks, that murder has been done on account of this secret—as Sikes, after all, killed Nancy... (full context)
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Brownlow tells Monks he will protect him if he swears to this version of events. Losborne then enters... (full context)
Chapter 51
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After dinner, Brownlow brings Monks before Oliver, and declares that Monks and Oliver are half brothers, that their father is... (full context)
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Monks also says that the father of Agnes Fleming, and the rest of the family (including... (full context)
Chapter 53
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...as well. Oliver's inheritance is meted out, by Brownlow, half to Oliver and half to Monks, since Brownlow believes this money might allow Monks to start a new life as a... (full context)