Oliver Twist Chapter 11 Summary
"Treats of Mr. Fang the Police Magistrate, and Furnishes a Slight Specimen of his Mode of Administering Justice"
- Oliver is dragged to the magistrate, who is basically just a guy who administers justice without the inconvenience of a jury. Or fairness.
- Even though the old gentleman says he’d rather not press charges (apparently he’s started to feel sorry for Oliver, after watching him get dragged through the streets), the police officer says the magistrate has to see him.
- He gets thrown into a cell at the station house (this is like a Victorian county jail, as opposed to Newgate, which is like a Victorian federal prison). Dickens says the cell is "most intolerably dirty" because it was Monday morning, and the cell was filled with drunken people all weekend. So, basically, the police officer just threw Oliver into a cell that was covered in other people’s urine and vomit.
- Meanwhile the old gentleman is talking to himself, wondering whether Oliver might possibly be innocent, and hoping that he is, and asking himself why Oliver looks so darned familiar.
- The old gentleman is called into the presence of the magistrate, Mr. Fang.
- Mr. Fang is very, very rude. He seems to enjoy getting respectable people all riled up by treating them badly, and that’s just what he does with this old gentleman.
- But the old gentleman doesn’t want to get Oliver into more trouble, so he tries not to lose his temper. He introduces himself, and we learn his name for the first time: Mr. Brownlow.
- Mr. Brownlow tells the story of how Oliver got chased, and says that he thinks he might very well be innocent.
- When Fang turns to Oliver, Oliver’s too weak to answer, but the officer leaning over Oliver to hear his response makes up answers to repeat back to Fang. Needless to say, the officer’s made-up answers aren’t very flattering.
- Oliver faints on the floor.
- Mr. Fang says he’s faking, and commits him to three months of hard labor.
- Things are looking pretty grim for poor Oliver, when the bookseller, who saw the whole thing, comes running in, demanding to be sworn in.
- The bookseller swears that he saw the robbery committed by another boy.
- Mr. Fang realizes that he’s coming off as a total jackass, so he pretends the whole thing is Mr. Brownlow’s fault, and orders the office to be cleared before Mr. Brownlow can get a word in edgewise.
- They get cleared out of the court, and Oliver’s lying there on the pavement looking half-dead, so Mr. Brownlow orders a coach to carry Oliver away.
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