Coincidence Weaving the Fabric of Novel Oliver Twist

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Immoderate Use of Chance and Coincidence

      The role of chance and coincidence is indispensable in the novel, Oliver Twist. Not only in the novel but in real life also, chance and coincidence plays an important role but it is not that frequent as is observed in Oliver Twist. In this novel it is given a lot of importance. As we notice in the novels of Hardy that chance and coincidence are given so excessive importance that they appear unrealistic. In Oliver Twist also we feel that Dickens has given exaggerated role to chance and coincidence and story seems improbable to seek any place in reality. Thus it can be regarded as a flaw because in most of the cases novel is thoroughly convincing and realistic.

Oliver's Encounter with Artful Dodger and Later with Monks

      Only by chance Oliver meets Artful Dodger. He flees from Mr. Sowerberry's house and walks towards London because he was bitterly beaten by Mr. Sowerberry. Artful Dodger happens to meet Oliver in the way, and takes him to the old Jew Fagin who is the boss of a criminal group of boys. It is not informed by the novelist what Artful Dodger was doing on the way towards London. This proves an unfortunate meeting for Oliver to be fallen in the hands of thief and robber. His life becomes too miserable among them because he was not ready to commit any crime but all the boys of Fagin's group forced him to do that. Likewise is his chance meeting with Monks at the inn in the town of Chertesy when he was sent by Mrs. Maylie to hand over a letter concerning with Rose's illness to the landlord of the inn. For Oliver this meeting was horrifying. Oliver does not know who this man is and even the reader fails to ascertain his identity. He is absolutely alien to Oliver and Oliver is frightful because this man treats him without any reasonable cause. Though this incident adds terror and horror in the novel yet it is just chance that causes their meeting. In this succession Oliver again sees the same man with Fagin standing at the window of Mr. May lie's house when Oliver is nodding inside the house. This incident also alarms and frightens Oliver.

The Past Friendship of Edwin Leeford and Mr. Brownlow

      Mr. Brownlow whose pocket was picked by Artful Dodger and Charley Bates, and who becomes the benefactor of Oliver turns out to be an intimate friend of Mr. Edwin Leeford, Oliver's late father. This is just the result of coincidence which has great bearing upon the rest of the story. This discovery of the relationship comes out very late in the story than the incident of Mr. Bronwlow's pocket being picked by the mates of Oliver. Oliver's innocent face causes Mr. Bronwlow's sympathy towards him who takes him to his own house in unconscious state.

Coincidence and Miseries in Oliver's Life

      It is just coincidence that Nancy and Sikes walk through the same street and at the same time when Oliver goes to return few books and pay some money to the owner of the bookstall on behalf of Mr. Brownlow. Thus coincidence provides opportunity to Nancy to catch hold of Oliver and drag him through forcefully to Fagin's lodging. This causes excessive anguish to Oliver because he is deprived of the home of Mr. Brownlow and Mrs. Bedwin who have shown considerable kindness and sympathy to him. Besides, Oliver is suspected by Mr. Brownlow as a thief because he could not return to Mr. Brownlow and forcibly fetched by Nancy to Fagin's den. Now Mr. Brownlow agrees with Mr. Grim wig's opinion that Oliver should not be trusted. Oliver goes through a lot of mental torture because of the worry that Mr. Brownlow might have considered him, a thief who had run away with all his books and money.

Coincidence Ascertains Mr. Brownlow's Adverse Opinion about Oliver

      When Oliver did not return Mr. Brownlow gives an advertisement to the newspaper about inquiring the history and whereabouts of Oliver's life. Mr. Bumble, coincidentally, sees this advertisement when he is going to London on some parochial business. He happens to notice this advertisement and offered reward in a newspaper. He decides to meet Mr. Brownlow in the interest of getting reward. Mr. Bumble goes to meet Mr. Brownlow at given address and gives him a wrong account of Oliver's life. His ill account of Oliver confirms Mr. Bronwlow's belief that Oliver is not an innocent and good boy. Consequently he strictly forbids Mrs. Bedwin to mention his name in his house.

Oliver, Seeking Shelter in Mrs. Maylie's House

      When Oliver recovers his consciousness because one of the inmates of Mrs. May lie's house has fired upon him because they (Sikes, Toby, Oliver) were trying to rob the house, he seeks shelter in the same house of Mrs. Maylie which was soon attempted to burgle with his assistance. Here also, only chance leads him to the house where a girl Rose is living with Mrs. Maylie, that later on turns out to be the aunt of Oliver and one of the great well-wishers and helpers of Oliver in rescuing him from any harm done by Monks. Rose happens to be the sister of Agnes who had died soon after giving birth to Oliver.

The Incidental Meeting of Noah with Fagin

      Noah Claypole and his beloved Charlotte arrive at The Three Cripples which is the usual meeting place of criminals like Fagin. Noah and Charlotte have reached London after stealing the money from Mr. Sowerberry's treasury. They arrive this public house for temporary stay. Here they meet perchance Fagin and this too has certain consequences upon the plot of the novel. Fagin persuades Noah to join him and given the job to spy upon the dubious activities of Nancy. Noah carries out his instructions under the name of Mr. Bolter and brings few important informations which end in Nancy's murder by Sikes.

Fagin and Monks' Secret Conversation Overheard by Nancy

      Sikes demands for money to Fagin and it is decided that Fagin would give the money from his den to Nancy and she would hand over that to Sikes. Consequently Nancy has gone with Fagin to his den but incidentally Monks arrives there to have an urgent talk with Fagin. They talk into a room and Nancy overhears what is going on between them. She reports that to Rose Maylie in order to save Oliver from Monks ill-designs to harm him.

Chance and Coincidence, the Instruments of Fate

      Coincidence and chance determines Oliver's destiny to a great extent in the novel. We can not deny the fact that Fate has its role in real life but the excessive frequency of it in the life of Oliver and several other events mars the realism of the Oliver Twist. Chance and coincidence may be called the instrument of Fate or Fate manifest itself sometimes in these faces.

University Questions

How the device of coincidence contributes in weaving the fabric of novel, Oliver Twist?
Discuss the role of chance and coincidence in the plot of Oliver Twist.

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