Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist Chapter 27 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator begins this chapter by jokingly "apologizing" to the reader for having abandoned so estimable a personage as the beadle Mr. Bumble for several chapters, while continuing with other parts of his "history." Bumble has been waiting in the kitchen and living quarters of Mrs. Corney, while the latter has been upstairs speaking with Old Sally. Mrs. Corney returns, and tells Bumble that Old Sally has upset her a great deal. Bumble offers Mrs. Corney his sympathies and gives her a bit of wine.
Bumble's trajectory in the novel is a notable one—it trends downward, just as Oliver's position in society, and his own good fortune, rises. Bumble believes that, by serenading Mrs. Corney, he will increase his social stature and his wealth, but it soon becomes clear that the opposite is true, that his union with Corney is to be a disastrous one.
Themes
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
The two begin kissing, and Bumble continues his wooing of Mrs. Corney. Bumble also reveals, after their wooing has gone on for a little while, that Mr. Slout, current master of the workhouse, is dying, and that a man will be needed to manage the house of which Mrs. Corney is the head female official. This, Bumble declares, is a "coincidence"—that he has "fallen in love" with Mrs. Corney at the same time this position is opened. The narrator implies, however, that Bumble has arranged all this so he might advance his professional position.
Another instance of Bumble's craven self-interest. It is not clear why Bumble would care to woo Mrs. Corney if she were not in a position to offer Bumble the lead job at the workhouse, once they are married. Bumble apparently believes that this position, as master of the workhouse, would lead to even greater social recognition than his current one as beadle, a relatively minor church official.
Themes
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
Bumble promises that he will marry Mrs. Corney, and he leaves her, after kissing her goodbye, to go to Sowerberry's to make arrangements for Old Sally's funeral. When he arrives at the coffin-maker's house, Bumble walks in on Noah Claypole and Charlotte flirting, kissing one another, and having a dinner of oysters. Bumble yells at the two of them for carousing in an unchaste manner, as they are not married, and the narrator subtly points out the hypocrisy of Bumble here, who only moments before was doing the same with Mrs. Corney. Bumble then leaves the young lovers and goes downstairs to arrange Sally's funeral with Sowerberry.
Bumble's hypocrisy is on high display here. Bumble's sole purpose, in the beginning of the novel up till its midpoint, is to correct the behavior of others while continuing to behave immorally himself. In the second half of the novel, however, Bumble's behavior no longer goes unnoticed or unpunished. Dickens clearly intends for the reader to loathe Bumble, and to appreciate the extent to which Bumble is willing to lie and manipulate others for his personal gain.
Themes
Poverty, Institutions, and Class Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon