Oliver Twist: Chapter 49 - Summary & Analysis

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Monks and Mr. Brownlow at Length Meet. Their Conversation, and the Intelligence that Interrupts it.

Summary

Mr. Bronwlow Brought Monks to His Home

      In an evening Mr. Bronwlow stepped down from a carriage and entered his house. There was a man with him who called himself Monks though his actual name was Edward Leeford. Mr. Brownlow traced this man on the basis of particulars given to him by Nancy and also through his own knowledge of the family which this man belonged to. Mr. Brownlow had caught Monks in a street and threatened him to inform police. He had to use his physical strength also and thus he overpowered him. Mr. Brownlow had to take the services of two other man in order to have command over Monks. He had also discovered that Monks was the son of Mr. Edwin Leeford who had been an intimate friend of Brownlow but now dead.

Monks' Surrender to Mr. Brownlow

      Mr. Brownlow now began to interrogate Monks. At first Monks was not ready to answer Mr. Brownlow's questions. Mr. Brownlow again threatened Monks to call police and charged him for committing robbery, if he would not cooperate with him. Monks found no alternative but to surrender in front of Mr. Brownlow because he knew of his weaknesses and criminal activities. Feeling an intense sense of guilt he thought it better to answer Mr. Brownlow correctly.

Monks, the Issue of An Unhappy Marriage

      The helpful information had came out from the conversation between Mr. Brownlow and Monks specially for Oliver and Rose. Mr. Brownlow has stated certain facts and many other facts were disclosed by Monks whose real name was Mr. Edward Leeford, the son of Mr. Edwin Leeford. Once Mr. Brownlow wanted to marry the sister of Mr. Edwin Leeford when Edwin Leeford was just a boy. Unfortimately his sister had died and Mr. Brownlow's sweet dreams of marriage met its end with her death. Rest of the life of Mr. Brownlow remained unhappy and barren. (Here, we remind Mrs. Brownlow's that statements in which he said that whom he had loved were buried in the grave, when he was talking to Oliver. Indeed he meant to refer Edwin Leeford and his sister.) When Edwin Leeford grew up, he was forced by his father to marry into a family which Edwin did not approve to. Monks was the result of that marriage which Edwin Leeford had to agree though most unwillingly and only in order to obey father's wishes. This marriage of Edwin Leeford proved very wretched and unhappy. It ended in the separation of husband and Wife, and his wife took away her son along (of course, the name of the boy was Edward Leeford). After separation, Mr. Edwin Leeford had taken several wanderings and finally got settled up at a distant place. He came in contact of a retired navel officer whose wife was dead and he had two daughters. One among them was a beautiful girl of nineteen named Agnes and other was a mere child of two or three years. Edwin Leeford had fallen in love with this girl Agnes who was also equally interested in Mr. Edwin Leeford. Their relation was very passionate and consequently Agnes became pregnant. One day Mr. Edwin Leeford got a news that one of his rich relatives had left behind him a vast property. Mr. Edwin had to rush to Rome where his relative had died. Mrs. Edwin Leeford who was living in Paris also went to Rome with her boy. Mr. Edwin Leeford’s intension was to entitle some part of his property to his wife and son Edward and rest of the property to Agnes and her child who would take birth. It would be an issue, of their illicit relation. Mr. Edwin's intention was to take Agnes abroad with him and marry her away from England.

Oliver, the Issue of an Illicit Relation

      At that time Mr. Edwin Leeford's wife died and Edward went to West Indies in order to leave behind the consequences of a sinful life he was leading in London and Paris. Mr. Edwin Leeford had also died but he had left behind a will leaving all his property to his wife and she was told to give a part of that property to Agnes. Edward's mother had destroyed this will in order to capture all the property. Edward's mother too had died and Edward became the owner of all the property. Agnes gave birth to a child named Oliver Twist in a workhouse in order to escape from shame.

Oliver, Entitled to Possess Half of Monk's Property

      Now, Mr. Brownlow added that Edward Leeford had once gone to that workhouse where Oliver had taken birth. He had met Mr. and Mrs. Bumble and got some evidences related to Oliver's parentage. Edward had already destroyed those evidences. Mr. Brownlow further said that it would be fair if Monks would agree to share his property with Oliver because Oliver was the son of same father though their mothers were different. In this way Oliver was Monk's half-brother. Then he said in menacing tone that if he would not give share to Oliver in his property, his criminal activities were soon be reported to police. Now Monks was left with no option except to agree with Brownlow's proposal.

Sikes and Fagin about to be Arrested

      Right at that moment Dr. Losberne arrived there and informed Mr. Brownlow that the murderer of Nancy was about to be arrested by the police. Sikes' dog was lurking about in the streets of London and this showed that William Sikes was also in London. Fagin was also likely to be arrested. Then Mr. Brownlow told Dr. Losberne about their conversation in brief.

Critical Analysis

      This chapter deals with a partial resolution of a number of mysteries. Several enigmas are revealed; like the similarity between the portrait of Mr. Brownlow's house and Oliver's features, Mr. Brownlow's sudden departure from London and his visit to West Indies, Monks's conspiracy against Oliver etc.

      It seems a bit disturbing when Mr. Brownlow does not go for law and takes everything in his own hands to proceed in the plan but here we should not forget that Dickens had little faith in institutions like law, he had much faith in individuals effort.

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