Rose Maylie: Character Analysis in Oliver Twist

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Idealized Nature of Rose

      Rose Maylie appears late in the novel and first introduced as the niece of Mrs. Maylie who at the end, turns out to be Oliver's aunt. Actually the character of Rose is modeled upon Dickens' sister-in-law Marry Hogarth who died during the time when Oliver Twist was being written. Dickens loved her very much and she died of a sudden illness. At the time of her death, she was in the arms of the novelist. Dickens failed to forget her in his life and many of his good female characters are based upon this young lady.

      Rose Maylie falls among the category of those characters whose physical appearance is not described elaborately. It seems intentional because Dickens wanted to present an idealized picture of lady rather than a lady in flesh and blood. He himself has written, "The young lady was in the lovely bloom and spring-time of womanhood, that; age when, if ever angels be for God's good purposes enthroned in mortal forms, they may be, without impiety, supposed to abide in such as hers". Though Rose is given major role in the second half of the novel yet she is presented with too sweetness and goodness to digest Her parentage is kept as a mystery for very long and she refers to it as a 'blight' upon her name but somehow she fails to arouse a curiosity in readers.

      Rose is referred as a girl of seventeen possessing a gentle disposition. She is too sympathetic. When she sees the face of Oliver lying unconscious in the bed, she starts weeping over his wretchedness and plight. She feels deeply concerned with Oliver's welfare and spends a sleepless night after getting Nancy's account of Monk's ill-plot against Oliver. She shares her tension with Mr. Brownlow and asks for his support. Rose equally feels sympathy for Nancy also. She offers money and a good life to Nancy. She moves to hear the story of Nancy that she has been compelled by circumstances to lead a life of crime. This is something on the part of Rose that her heart is full of sympathy and love.

Rose's Love for Harry Maylie

      Mrs. Maylie has brought up Rose as her daughter. Rose has deep regard and profound affection for Mrs. Maylie's son Harry Maylie but she rejects his proposal of marriage because of some dubious conditions of her birth though she herself does not know the truth. Her birth and parentage are not clearly discovered thus she does not like Hany to face humiliation or disgrace. When this mystery regarding her birth and parentage is solved she again does not consent to marry Harry because she does not want that Harry's friend say that Rose has used Harry to be rich and go high in the society. But when Harry says that he has discarded the life of luxury and sophistication she agrees to marry him.

Rose's Parentage

      Rose is the second daughter of a naval officer Fleming. She had a sister Agnes who dies after giving birth to Oliver in a workhouse. Her father has died and she is brought up by Mrs. Maylie and introduced as a niece of her. Thus, she is the aunt of Oliver. Her whole parentage and relationships are discovered by the investigations of Mr. Brownlow.

Rose's Poignant Illness

      In the novel, at a point Rose becomes extremely ill. It was very sudden and it seems that she would not survive. Even Dr. Losborne feels hopeless but miraculously she starts recovering. Though this incident has no bearing upon the development of the plot yet it is interesting to note why, has Dickens made her fallen ill. Perhaps it Marry Hogarth's sudden illness that caused the illness of Rose Dickens could not collect himself to make Marry die. Her recovery is the personal satisfaction of the novelist.

The Comparative Study of Rose and Nancy

      There are several parallels between Nancy and Rose. Both are unselfish and much concerned with Oliver's welfare. Rose protects him from the hands of criminals and Nancy saves him from the furry of Sikes and Fagin. She goes to meet Rose because she wants her to save Oliver from the treacherous hands of Monks. Rose's love for Harry Maylie is profound but she rejects his marriage proposal with the intention not to harm his career and humiliate him. Nancy also sincerely and genuinly loves Sikes, she is very much devoted to him and refuses the offer of Rose and Mr. Brownlow to receive money or lead a good life though she knows that Sikes would not treat her lovingly and sympathetically.

      There is only one discriminating point and it is of their environment. Rose belongs to a wealthy middle-class family but - for Nancy her house is gutter. She is like a slum dwellers. But if Mrs. Maylie had not adopted Rose, she might be the same. When Nancy says to Rose in chapter (40): "Oh, lady ! if there was more like you, there would be fewer like me but she does not recognize that there are really certain similarities between them.

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