Mr. Brownlow is Oliver’s first friend and mentor. He’s had a rough life—he was going to marry his best friend’s sister (Victorians were fond of doing that… it was the next best thing to marrying their best friend), but she died on the morning of their wedding day. And then his best friend died far from home, too.
So you’d think that Mr. Brownlow would be a bitter, cynical old man, but he’s not. He still has faith in people. He’s kind of a bookworm —the first time we see him, he’s so absorbed in reading a book at a bookseller’s stand in the street that he doesn’t notice the Dodger and Charley trying to pick his pocket. But he’s no wimp, either. When Mr. Fang, the magistrate, insults him, he stands up for himself immediately. He’s also a loyal friend, and dedicated to doing what’s right. Generally, he’s a stand-up guy.