Oliver Twist: Chapter 3 - Summary & Analysis

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Relates how Oliver Twist was Very Near Getting a Place, which would not have been a Sinecure.


Chimney-Sweeper and Oliver

      Oliver was kept in solitary confinement as a punishment against asking for more food. He was also publically whipped as a warning and example. One morning a chimney sweeper Mr. Gamfield was going down the High Street and he saw the notice pasted on the gate of the workhouse. He had his donkey with him. He growled a fierce imprecation on the donkey generally but more particularly on his eyes; and running after him, bestowed a blow on his head, which would inevitably have beaten in any skull but a donkey's; then, catching hold of the bridle, he gave his jaw a sharp wrench, by way of gentle reminder that he was not his own master, and, having by these means turned him round, he then gave him another blow on his head, just to stun him till he came back again; and having completed these arrangements, he walked up to the gate, to read the bill. A gentleman with white waistcoat who was watching this 'little dispute' between Mr. Gamfield and donkey became happy to consider this man most appropriate for Oliver Twist.

The Magistrate Cancelled the Board's Decision on Hearing Miserable Condition of the Boy through his Mouth

      Mr. Limbkins, who was talking to Mr. Gamfield, wanted that Board should not have to pay the full amount of five pounds as notified. He began to haggle with Mr. Gamfield and ultimately decided that the Board would pay only three pounds and ten shillings. Mr. Bumble was deputed to present Oliver and his indentures before the magistrate for approval. He told Oliver that he should tell the magistrate that he loved the trade of chimney-sweeping and he wanted to be apprenticed. But as the magistrate was going to sign, fortunately, he cast a look on the terrified and pale face of the boy. He addressed him kindly and Oliver burst out in tears. He told the magistrate that he would prefer to be beaten, starved, even killed but did not like to go with dreadful Mr. Gamfield. The magistrate disapproved - the indentures and told Mr. Bumble to treat the boy kindly. Consequently next morning, there was a new notice pasted out in the workhouse. The Board was offering a reward of five pounds to anybody who would take Oliver Twist away and teach him some trade or occupation.

Critical Analysis

      This chapter is an instance of Dickens' intermixture of humor and pathos. The bargaining between the Chimney-sweep and Mr. Bumble is quite amusing whereas we find much pathos in the description of Oliver's sensational feelings when he tells the magistrate that he would prefer to be killed but not ready to go away with the dreadful man (Chimney sweep).

      Oliver is saved from the cruel hands of Chimney-sweep only by the mercy of the chance.

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