by Charles Dickens
Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.
Plot Type : Rags to Riches
Initial wretchedness at home and the ‘Call’
Oliver is shuffled from one scene of misery to the next, and finally ends up at Mr. Sowerberry’s.
Things can’t get much worse for Oliver when he leaves the workhouse – or so you might think. Mrs. Sowerberry doesn’t feed him much better than the workhouse authorities, and Oliver is surrounded by death all the time. Oliver’s "call" into the wider world occurs when Noah mocks his mom, and Oliver punches him in the face and decides to run away. So really, it’s his loyalty to his mother’s memory, and his commitment to life, that launches him into the world.
Out into the world, initial success
Oliver is picked up by Mr. Brownlow, who takes him in and befriends him.
Bad things happen to Oliver at first – he’s "befriended" by the Artful Dodger, who brings him to Fagin to join the gang. But Oliver doesn’t get it at first. When he realizes that he’s in a den of thieves, he takes off at a run, and is immediately arrested as a pickpocket. But that turns out to be a blessing in disguise – the man who accused him decides to take mercy on him, and eventually takes him in and befriends him.
The central crisis
Oliver is shot while attempting to rob a house.
Oliver gets kidnapped away from Mr. Brownlow, his first friend, and is completely miserable about it. Things get worse for him when Fagin sends him off with Sikes and Toby Crackit to rob a house. Just when he decides to make a break for it so that he can warn the household, he finds himself caught between Sikes on one side, and Giles and his hunting gun on the other, and he’s shot in the arm. Everyone keeps assuming he’s a thief.
Independence and the final ordeal
Oliver is taken in by the Maylies, reunited with Mr. Brownlow, but still has to contend with Monks’s plots against him.
Things are looking up for Oliver – the Maylies take care of him after he was shot, and even shield him from the police, even though he was part of the attempted robbery of their house. They teach him to read and write, and reunite him with Mr. Brownlow, his first friend. But Monks is still out to get him, and Oliver doesn’t yet know why – it’s up to Nancy, who sacrifices herself to help him, to get the information they need to force a confession from Monks.
Final union, completion, and fulfillment
Mr. Brownlow adopts Oliver, and all the good guys settle down and form a happy little community.
Once the mystery surrounding Oliver’s birth is cleared up, he inherits a bit of money – not a ton, but enough so that he’s not destitute. And Mr. Brownlow legally adopts him, because he was the son of his dead best friend. The mystery surrounding Rose’s birth is cleared up, too, and so she marries Harry Maylie. All of the good characters move to a little village in the country, where they all live happily ever after.