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Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist


Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist Chapter 12 Summary

"In Which Oliver is Taken Better Care of, Than he Ever Was Before. With some Particulars Concerning a Certain Picture"

  • Oliver is taken to Mr. Brownlow’s house, up in the suburb of Pentonville (see "Fun Facts" for more on Pentonville).
  • The poor kid is so sick that he’s unconscious for days. At least he’s being taken care of for a change.
  • He finally wakes up, and asks where he is.
  • A motherly old lady immediately checks up on him, and tells him to be quiet, because he’s been really sick and needs to take it easy.
  • Oliver’s so grateful that he pulls affectionately on her hand, and the old lady is astonished at how grateful he is.
  • Oliver muses out loud to the old lady about whether or not his mother could see him in heaven, because he dreamed about her while he was sick. And he off-handedly mentions that he’s been beaten a lot, and he hopes that it didn’t make his dead mother sad to see him get smacked around, because people shouldn’t be sad in heaven. So obviously the old lady starts tearing up. It’s tearjerker stuff.
  • A doctor comes to check on him, and is really nice; and then the old lady is there and gives him tea, and then a different lady (a "fat old woman") comes in to sit up in a chair next to his bed during the night. Everyone’s being so nice
  • Oliver gradually recovers. After another three days, he’s doing so well that the kind old lady starts crying with joy.
  • Oliver notices a portrait hanging in the room opposite his chair, and asks the old lady about it.
  • She doesn’t seem to know anything about it – even who the lady is. Oliver clearly feels some kind of deep connection to the portrait: "it makes my heart beat […] as if it was alive, and wanted to speak to me, but couldn’t" (12.43).
  • That remark strikes the kind old lady as pretty creepy, so she moves the portrait so that it’s hanging behind him, instead of across from him. Clearly it was wreaking havoc on his young, fevered imagination. Because, come on, hearts don’t talk. Especially not to portraits of random ladies.
  • Mr. Brownlow comes to visit Oliver, and we learn that the nice old lady who’s been taking care of him is named Mrs. Bedwin, and is Mr. Brownlow’s housekeeper.
  • And speaking of hearts, we learn that Mr. Brownlow’s heart is "large enough for any six ordinary old gentlemen of humane disposition," so he tears up and has to pretend it’s a cold when he sees how well Oliver’s doing (12.46).
  • Mr. Brownlow learns for the first time that Oliver’s name is Oliver, and not "Tom White," as the officer at the magistrate’s office had claimed.
  • Just when Oliver is asking him why he looks perplexed, Brownlow notices a strong and striking resemblance between Oliver and the portrait that is now hanging above Oliver’s head.
  • Oliver can’t take the excitement of Mr. Brownlow’s exclamation, so he faints, and the chapter ends along with Oliver’s consciousness.

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