Oliver Goodness Overcome Evil in Oliver Twist

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Oliver: The Representative of Goodness

      In the novel Oliver Twist Dickens has achieved his target of presenting Oliver as an embodiment of the principle of goodness. The conditions under which Oliver is brought up in the workhouse where he was born he is expected to become easily a thief or monster or a most wicked criminal. But this does not happen. Oliver resists all the evil that he encounters. He is not fallen as a prey to these vicious temptations because his chief and most powerful characteristic was goodness that stands ineradicable against all the evil forces. Oliver is a born good. What happens in most cases that sometimes man is governed by evil and sometime good overcomes the evil, but there are such persons also who are either utterly devil or entirely good. Oliver belongs to the category of those men whose goodness can never be shaken by any severe blow of circumstances. They remain a thorough good throughout their lives. Oliver goes through several adverse circumstances but he stands good in each and every cases.

Oliver's Goodness Overcoming the Temptation of Vice

      Oliver is most ill-treated by the officials of the workhouse and the undertaker Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry. But Oliver escapes himself from the ill-treatments by fleeing from the establishment of the undertaker. Noah Claypole and Charlotte also leaves the house of Sowerberry but they steal his money before running away from there. This is the dominance of innate goodness or evil. Later Noah and Charlotte easily become the victim of the temptation of crime as persuaded by Fagin but Oliver stands firm against all the allurements given by Fagin or his disciples. Infact, for so many days Oliver cannot understand the intention of Fagin, he fails to comprehend Fagin's occupation for so many days even when Fagin plays the game of picking pocket with his boys. When Fagin sends Oliver with Bates and Artful Dodger to learn the technique of picking pocket, still Oliver can not realize its meaning but when he sees through his own eyes Artful Dodger picking the pocket of an old man wrapt in reading book, he comes to understand everything—the meaning of Fagin's secret treasury and the dubious activities of his inmates. The sight of pocket being picked stuns Oliver and very mechanically he takes to his heels because Artful Dodger and Charley Bates have already rushed away. Oliver feels disinclined to adopt this job. He feels quite relaxed after recovering from his unconsciousness and being in a new house full of love, care and sympathy. He is most happy in the house of Brownlow and does not wish Mr. Brownlow to send him away. Mr. Brownlow acknowledges this goodness and innocence in Oliver though his intimate friend Mr. Grimwig forms adverse opinion about Oliver.

Oliver's Fear of Being thought by Mr. Brownlow, A Thief

      The next remarkable point is that unfortunately Oliver is kidnapped by Nancy from the streets when he was going to return few books and pay money to the owner of the bookstall. Oliver feels most unhappy and depressed being again in the den of Fagin and among his boys. When Sikes and Fagin argue over who will take the money or book, Oliver makes a request to them that books and money are of Mr. Brownlow who brought him to his house when he was unconscious and took great care of him, thus it must be returned to him. He bends down to their feet to send those books and money to Mr. Brownlow. Oliver even offers his whole life, if they will send the books and money to that gentleman. He further says that he does not want the old man to think that Oliver has stolen all his money and books. He says: "Oh, do have mercy upon me and send them (books and the money) back." But he receives nothing but coldness in return. Now, he becomes furious and starts shouting for help. He tries to rush in order to escape but get caught by Sikes. He feels tormented by the thought that Mrs. Bedwin and Mr. Brownlow would think that he is a thief and unreliable dishonest boy. Now Fagin starts beating Oliver in order to shut his mouth and take him under control but Nancy comes forward to rescue him. This incident stamps this truth that Oliver can stand against evil force.

Not a Little Attracted - by Fagin's Temptations

      But the culminating point of Oliver's ineradicable goodness comes at the time when Sikes and Toby Crackit attempted to rob Mrs. Maylie's house through Oliver's help. Although Oliver has spent lots of time among thieves and robbers and is placed in between good and evil, his resolve not to surrender in front of evil persons remains unshaken. From the moment of restoring Oliver, Fagin has begun to prevail upon him in order to convert him into a criminal. Fagin has done his best to persuade Oliver to join the boys in their criminal activities. He even threatens Oliver and make him able to realize the consequences of being fallen into the hands of police. But Oliver remains adamant. He does not pay any attention to Fagin's threats or persuasion. Though Artful Dodger says Oliver that Fagin can make his future bright if he would work sincerely for him yet all meets no success. Everyone fail to inject poison in the blood of Oliver.

Oliver's Resolve not to Assist Sikes in Burglary

      Sikes forcibly takes Oliver to the house which they have planned to rob. When Oliver is pulled upon the wall, and understands their evil-designs, he appeals Sikes to let him go; but Sikes threatens him to tear his brain with the pistol. Oliver says that if he allows him to rush away, he would never come to London again but would die in the fields. He says: "Oh, pray have mercy on me, and do not make me steal. For the love of all the bright angels that rest in heaven, have mercy upon me!" But Sikes swears a terrible oath and putting his hand upon Oliver's mouth, drags him to the house which is to be robbed. Then Oliver resolves in him that whether he dies or remains alive, somehow he would alert the inmates of the house. Thus Oliver's goodness remained unaffected by evils. He has his strong will-power to resist these forces of evil.

Dominated by a Mysterious Moral Instinct

      Oliver is left in a ditch of a field in unconscious state. When he regains his consciousness, he recalls what had happened to him. He had been shot by the servant of Mrs. Maylie, whose house was attempted to burgle. Oliver is governed by some mysterious moral instinct and reaches to that very house which they attempted to burgle in order to seek shelter. Oliver finds himself again amidst the good and kind people who treat him sympathetically. Here, when he recovers completely his pain and fever, he first desires to see Mr. Brownlow and explain him the circumstances under to which he had failed to go back to him. But he learns that Mr. Brownlow has gone away to West Indies. After sometimes, he does meet Mr. Brownlow fortunately and he explains everything to him. Mr. Brownlow finds his former opinion about Oliver right. Mrs. Bedwin s persistence in regarding Oliver a good boy proves right.

Oliver's Goodness remains Good regardless of Monk's Extreme Efforts to Spoil Him

      Oliver's gratitude to the family of Mrs. Maylie is as deep as his gratitude to Mr. Brownlow and Mrs. Bedwin. But the stock of Oliver's misfortune is yet not finished. Monks continue his efforts to transform Oliver into a corrupt and criminal personality. Monks had promised his dying mother to pervert his half-brother Oliver, but his efforts are made useless by Nancy who gives important particulars about him to Rose and Mr. Brownlow and also tells them his evil plot to harm Oliver. Thus Oliver continues to be a good boy and at the end of the novel fortunately adopted by Mr. Brownlow as his son. Thus he remains victorious over the evil temptations.

University Questions

How far Dickens has succeeded in his purpose of showing in little Oliver the principle of good surviving through adverse circumstances and triumphing at last ?
Oliver's innate goodness makes him able to resist and overpower every evil temptation. Elaborate with references to Oliver Twist.

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