Women’s Roles in “Oliver Twist”
Throughout the novel, coincidental events plague Oliver. From the beginning, starting with the robbing of Mr. Brownlow, he gets through these obstacles by either going through sheer coincidence or by people, like the women of “Oliver Twist”. These women: Nancy, Mrs. Maylie, Rose Maylie, Agnes Fleming, Mrs. Corney, Charlotte, Mrs. Bedwin, Mrs. Mann, and Monks’s mother each have unique characteristics and play vital roles, which intertwine with Oliver in some way. Contradictory to the majority in that time who view thieves and other evildoers as people who inherit this quality from birth, Dickens presents Nancy, a victim of the bad conditions of her upbringing, coming forth as one of the book’s strongest-willed and prime example of good people in not-so-good conditions. For example, Nancy knows Sikes will punish her if she helps Oliver. She also puts up with Sikes’s treatment of abusing her. Nancy’s inner strength sheds new insight about her character. Her strong will toward protecting Oliver from evil is perhaps the strongest value that stands out, and her virtuous and self-sacrificing nature will come about to help Oliver tremendously. Nancy helps Oliver as an inside informant. Later in the book, she meets Rose and Mr. Brownlow, and tells them important information that would help them. On the other side of town is a young woman by the name of Rose. Rose fits the category of a Victorian woman from her kindness, physical characteristics, and loving nature. Her willingness to help Oliver albeit her aristocratic upbringing is later explained through her background. Her tainted family honor (from her sister marrying after giving birth) could explain why she has sympathized with Nancy and Oliver, unlike some aristocrats. When Rose and Nancy were having a talk, Nancy says, “If there was more like you, there would be fewer like me” (Dickens 358). Oliver also receives her kindness. She helps...