Study Guide

Mrs. Maylie in Oliver Twist

By Charles Dickens

Mrs. Maylie

Mrs. Maylie is just so dang good, it’s hard to know what to say about her. She apparently makes a habit of taking in questionable orphans, even though she already had a son of her own. Once, when she was on a holiday in Wales, she saw a cute little girl who was being brought up by the villagers and, despite the stories that had been circulating about how this girl was bad news, Mrs. Maylie decided to take the girl in.

Of course she never regretted it, because Rose Maylie grows up to be the sweetest young lady in the world. Later, a little boy appears on her doorstep, wounded after having attempted to rob her house, and of course she takes him in, too—she even lies to the detectives who come to investigate the break-in to protect the kid.

You’d think, if she had a taste for adopting orphans, that she’d at least go for the ones who didn’t seem to have criminal propensities, but no—Mrs. Maylie seems to like saving children who might otherwise be prone to crime. It’s also weird that Mrs. Maylie keeps adopting children who turn out to be from the same family—Rose, as it turns out, was the younger sister of Oliver’s dead mother.

Although an old lady, she’s very firm and vigorous: she goes on long walks, and her posture is pretty amazing. And even when Rose is dying of the fever, Mrs. Maylie only loses her cool once... and once she dries her eyes, she’s all business. She cares deeply for Rose and Oliver (and her own son, too, of course), but she’s also very rational, and does what needs to be done.