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Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist


by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist Chapter 33 Summary

READ THE BOOK: Chapter 33

"Wherein the Happiness of Oliver and his Friends Experiences a Sudden Check"

  • Spring is over, and now it’s summer. Ah, summer.
  • One day, after a particularly long walk, Rose gets really emotional while playing the piano. She tries to hide her tears from Mrs. Maylie and from Oliver.
  • Obviously she’s not sad (Who could be? It’s summer!), and she denies that she’s sick.
  • But she is. She’s very, very sick.
  • She has some kind of a fever that causes wild fluctuations in temperature, and just in the few hours since they got back from her walk, her skin has gotten flushed and she’s getting sicker by the minute.
  • Mrs. Maylie realizes how serious it is (very), and, after putting Rose to bed, starts crying.
  • Oliver comforts her as best he can, telling her that young and beloved people never die.
  • Mrs. Maylie knows better, but decides that she needs to suck it up and do what she has to do.
  • Which is to call a doctor, obviously. And since apparently there are no doctors in the entire village, they send for Mr. Losberne, their old friend from Chertsey.
  • Oliver’s the one chosen to go to the village to mail the letter summoning Mr. Losberne.
  • He’s eager to be off, but Mrs. Maylie is hesitating about whether to send a second letter, or not —it’s addressed to "Harry Maylie Esquire" at some lord’s house. We don’t know who that is, and Oliver doesn’t really care—he just wants to take off for the town as soon as possible because he’s worried about Rose.
  • Mrs. Maylie decides against sending the letter, and Oliver’s off like a shot for town.
  • They didn’t have overnight mail like we have now, so what Oliver has to do is to hire some guy at the town inn to ride a horse to London and hand deliver the message. (Sending letters by regular mail would take way too long.)
  • On his way out of the inn, Oliver stumbles into a tall man wearing a cloak.
  • He apologizes automatically (after all, he did just run into the guy), but the man overreacts: "Death! […] Who’d have thought it! Grind him to ashes! he'd start up from a marble coffin to come in my way!" (33.44).
  • Oliver backs away slowly, and assumes (understandably, we think) that the guy is totally crazy.
  • The fact that the man then falls on the ground, foaming at the mouth and grinding his teeth, doesn’t really help his case.
  • Oliver runs to get help from the inn, and then heads home.
  • There’s too much going on at home for him to remember to tell Mrs. Maylie about the crazy guy.
  • The local "medical practitioner" (so, not a real doctor like Mr. Losberne) is there, and thinks that it’s unlikely that Rose will recover.
  • Mr. Losberne arrives the next morning, and goes straight in to take care of Rose.
  • Two days go by, and the narrator reflects about how weird it is that it’s summer, and everything is blossoming and in the fullness of life, and yet Rose is dying. Life is always juxtaposed with death, he tells us.
  • Mrs. Maylie finally comes out of Rose’s room, where she’d been sitting pretty constantly for the past couple of days. She says that Rose has fallen asleep, and will either wake up once before dying, or will wake up healthy. We’re not sure how that works medically, but hey.
  • Guess what? She wakes up healthy. They’re all very relieved.
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 33

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