Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist Chapter 51 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Two days later, Oliver travels by carriage with Rose, Mrs. Maylie, Mrs. Bedwin, and Brownlow. Oliver has been told the nature of his connection to Monks, but Oliver still does not understand the full nature of his backstory, and he is anxious to discover this truth. Brownlow and Losborne have also kept the details of Nancy's murder and Sikes' death from the ladies, until such a time when he can tell them properly.
Oliver is finally informed of everything having to do with his own history, and with the plot Monks has been organizing against him. This, like other important activities at the end of the novel, also takes place outside the frame of the narrated story, as the reader is already acquainted with what Oliver has yet to learn.
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Oliver tells Rose he looks forward to seeing Dick, and promises that, this time, Oliver will say "God bless you" to Dick. The town of his birth looks very small to Oliver now, and the party meets Grimwig, who came out before them, at the main hotel of the town, where they are to stay for the night. They have dinner together.
Dick, perhaps forgotten by the readers after his two short appearances in the novel to this point, has nevertheless remained an important touchstone for Oliver: the first person who was ever kind to him. Oliver's memory of Dick here sets the stage for the novel to reveal Dick's fate just a little later on.
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After dinner, Brownlow brings Monks before Oliver, and declares that Monks and Oliver are half brothers, that their father is Edward Leeford, Sr., and that Oliver's mother is a woman named Agnes Fleming. Monks says aloud that Oliver is his "bastard" brother, but Brownlow immediately corrects this, saying it is no fault of Oliver's. Brownlow declares, aloud, so that Oliver might hear, what Monks knew from Leeford's will: that Oliver and his mother were given equal parts of Leeford's fortune, with Monks and Monks' mother receiving a moderate annuity. Monks also declares that this will, though valid, he destroyed, in order to prevent Oliver from gaining his inheritance.
Brownlow is oppositional to the last, even though he knows that Oliver will, at this point, receive his inheritance. But the nature of Monks' anger against Oliver is much deeper-seated than was originally shown. It is not just that Monks wanted Oliver's share of the money Edward left behind; Monks hates the very idea that so virtuous a child can spring from a union that society has determined "improper," the one between Agnes and Edward. There is also a sense that Monks despairs at his own inability to escape his criminality—a criminality that he sank into because of a crime he and his mother would not have had to commit if Oliver never existed—and so he wants to drag Oliver down to the same moral hell where he must reside.
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Monks also says that the father of Agnes Fleming, and the rest of the family (including a much younger daughter), fled to Wales and took on another name. Monks learned all these secrets from his own mother, who died of illness when Monks was a young man. Before this, Monks had stolen a good deal of money from his own mother, thus beginning his criminal career in London. Brownlow believes this to be the start of Monks' shameful behavior.
It seems that Monks has always had a penchant for misbehaving, as though his criminal nature is inborn in him, and not just a product of the society around him. Though, again, its also possible to trace Monk's criminality back to his and his mother's first crime—destroying the will that would have given Leeford's wealth to Oliver..
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Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Bumble are then brought into the hotel room, where they admit that Mrs. Bumble took the pouch from Sally, given by Agnes, which contains another link between Oliver and his mother—this they gave to Monks in the aforementioned chapter, and Monks threw these items in the Thames, in hopes of destroying Oliver's link to his past. But this was, of course, not successful. Bumble and Mrs. Bumble are humbled in front of Brownlow and Oliver.
The Bumbles, finally, are called to account for what they have done. Bumble is exposed as a mediocrity and a terrible judge of character, and his wife is shown to be the mastermind of a very small plot to enrich herself by 25 pounds. But soon the Bumbles will be suffering, stripped of their positions, in the workhouse.
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One final revelation is in order: Rose is brought forward, and it is declared that Rose is the younger daughter of the naval captain—the sister of Agnes Fleming, Oliver's mother. This means that Rose is Oliver's aunt. Rose is thrilled to know this, as is Oliver—the bond of kinship had already been strong between them. At this point, Harry Maylie comes in, to reiterate his proposal to Rose. He says that his circumstances have now changed—he is a country parson, having forgone the "brilliant promotions" he was to have in London—and he would like to marry Rose now, since his future will not be impeded by the union.
This coincidence is almost too much for the structure of the book to bear; it does seem to strain credulity. But Dickens was not interested in writing "realistic" fiction so much as he cared to write fiction that generated a series of emotional states with which the reader could sympathize. Here, the reader is happy to know that Rose could be reunited with part of her family, and that Oliver, also a good boy, should have so noble and virtuous an aunt.
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Rose agrees to the marriage, and the party appears happy, until, at the end of the chapter, Oliver receives word that, in the workhouse, poor Dick has died. This bit of sadness mars the proceedings, as Oliver had hoped to bless Dick in return for the blessings Dick had given him.
The novel began with an extended attack on the Poor Laws and the state of the poor in England. As Oliver's adventure begins and his background is revealed, that attack recedes. But the story of Dick's fate brings that attack back. Dick was as kind as Oliver, as good as Oliver, but unlike Oliver his poverty killed him. In this way Dickens is able to once more show the brutal unfairness and immorality of the Poor Laws.
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