Oliver Twist: Chapter 4 - Summary & Analysis

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Oliver, being afforded another Place, makes his first Entry into Public Life


Mr. Sowerberry's Interest in Accepting Oliver as an Apprentice

      The Board wanted to get rid of Oliver by sending him far away in some small trading vessel towed by some party with this anticipation that the skipper would probably beat him to death or knock his brains out with an iron bar. Mr. Bumble had a talk with local undertaker whose name was Mr. Sowerberry. When Sowerberry came to know that he would be given five pounds for taking away Oliver Twist, he expressed his interest in this matter. Mr. Sowerberry was interviewed by the board. He did not require much persuasion to accept Oliver. He agreed to take Oliver upon linking' that means if the master finds, upon a short trial, that he can get enough work out of a boy without putting too much food into him, he shall have him for a term of years, to do what he likes with.

Mr. Bumble, going to Sowerberry's place, to leave Oliver Twist

      Mr. Bumble took Oliver to Sowerberry's house. On the way Oliver wept bitterly. Mr. Bumble called the boy most ungrateful and disposed. Oliver just sobbed and said in meek voice, No no, sir; I will be good indeed; indeed, indeed, I will, sir! I am a very little boy sir, and it is so-so— So what? Mr. Bumble interrogated. "So lonely sir! so very lonely! Everybody hates me. Oh, Sir, don't, don’t pray be cross to me!" At this touching words, even a cruel like Mr. Bumble was slightly moved.

Oliver Twist, left at the House of Mr. Sowerberry

      Mr. Sowerberry took Oliver Twist to his home. Mr. Bumble accompanied him with the purpose to make sure the arrangements which had been decided by the Board. Mr. Sowerberry presented the boy in front of his wife who said that the boy was very small. Mr. Bumble assured her that in the course of time the boy would grow up. She said that he would grow up because of getting free food in her house. She pushed the boy into her kitchen where a dirty girl was sitting. Her name was Charlotte. Charlotte was ordered to give the boy scrap that was not eaten by the animal. Oliver, ravenously devoured those scraps, then given a place in the undertaker's shop among the coffins to sleep.

Critical Analysis

      This chapter deals with few very effective use of irony. Mr. Bumble is referred to as 'that dignitary'. Political economists who are responsible for inhuman poor laws are called 'philosophers'. In the previous chapter, Mrs. Mann was remarked "a very great experimental philosopher."

      Dickens almost burst out when he depicts the picture of hungry Oliver ravenously eating those scraps of meat which were left by dogs.

      "I wish some well-fed philosopher, whose meat and drink turn to gall within him; whose blood is ice, whose heart is iron; could have seen Oliver Twist clutching at the dainty viands that the dog had neglected. I wish he could have witnessed the horrible avidity with which Oliver tore the bits asunder with all the ferocity of famine. There is only one thing I should like better; and that would be to see the philosopher making the same sort of meal himself, with the same relish."

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