Summary: Chapter 49
Mr. Brownlow has captured Monks and brought him to the Brownlow home. Monks’s real name is Edward Leeford. Brownlow was a good friend of Monks’s father, Mr. Leeford. Mr. Leeford was a young man when his family forced him to marry a wealthy older woman. The couple eventually separated but did not divorce, and Edward and his mother went to Paris. Meanwhile, Mr. Leeford fell in love with Agnes Fleming, a retired naval officer’s daughter, who became pregnant with Oliver. The relative who had benefited most from Mr. Leeford’s forced marriage repented and left Mr. Leeford a fortune. Mr. Leeford left a portrait of his beloved Agnes in Brownlow’s care while he went to Rome to claim his inheritance. Mr. Leeford’s wife, hearing of his good fortune, traveled with Edward to meet him there. However, in Rome, Mr. Leeford took ill and died. Brownlow reports that he knows that Monks’s mother burned Mr. Leeford’s will, so Mr. Leeford’s newfound fortune fell to his wife and son. After his mother died, Monks lived in the West Indies on their ill-gotten fortune. Brownlow, remembering Oliver’s resemblance to the woman in the portrait, had gone there to find Monks after Oliver was kidnapped. Meanwhile, the search for Sikes continues.
Summary: Chapter 50
Toby Crackit and Tom Chitling flee to a squalid island after Fagin and Noah are captured by the authorities. Sikes’s dog shows up at the house that serves as their hiding place. Sikes arrives soon after. Charley Bates arrives and attacks the murderer, calling for the others to help him. The search party and an angry mob arrive demanding justice. Sikes climbs onto the roof with a rope, intending to lower himself to escape in the midst of the confusion. However, he loses his balance when he imagines that he sees Nancy’s eyes before him. The rope catches around his neck, and he falls to his death with his head in an accidental noose.
Summary: Chapter 51
Oliver and his friends travel to the town of his birth, with Monks in tow, to meet Mr. Grimwig. There, Monks reveals that he and his mother found a letter and a will after his father’s death, both of which they destroyed. The letter was addressed to Agnes Fleming’s mother, and it contained a confession from Leeford about their affair. The will stated that, if his illegitimate child were a girl, she should inherit the estate unconditionally. If it were a boy, he would inherit the estate only if he committed no illegal or guilty act. Otherwise, Monks and his mother would receive the fortune. Upon learning of his daughter’s shameful involvement with a married man, Agnes’s father fled his hometown and changed his family’s name. Agnes ran away to save her family the shame of her condition, and her father died soon thereafter of a broken heart. His other small daughter was taken in by a poor couple who died soon after. Mrs. Maylie took pity on the little girl and raised her as her niece. That child is Rose. Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Bumble confess to their part in concealing Oliver’s history, and Mr. Brownlow ensures that they never hold public office again. Harry has given up his political ambitions and vowed to live as a poor clergyman. Knowing that she no longer stands in the way of Harry’s ambitions, Rose agrees to marry him.
Summary: Chapter 52
Fagin is sentenced to death for his many crimes. On his miserable last night alive, Brownlow and Oliver visit him in his jail cell to find out the location of papers verifying Oliver’s identity, which Monks had entrusted to Fagin.
Summary: Chapter 53
[W]ithout strong affection and humanity of heart, and gratitude to that Being whose code is Mercy and whose great attribute is Benevolence . . . happiness can never be attained.See Important Quotations Explained
Noah is pardoned because he testifies against Fagin. Charley turns to an honest life and becomes a successful grazier, a person who feeds cattle before they are taken to market. Brownlow arranges for Monks’s property to be divided between Monks and Oliver. Monks travels to the New World, where he squanders his share of the inheritance and lives a sordid life that lands him in prison, where he dies. Brownlow adopts Oliver as his son. He, Losberne, and Grimwig take up residence near the rural church over which Harry presides.
Analysis Chapters 49–53
The long story surrounding Mr. Leeford’s marriage is told to demonstrate the disastrous consequences of economically motivated marriages. Dickens’s romanticism manifests itself in the difference between Oliver and his half-brother. Oliver, the child of Leeford’s love affair, is virtuous and innocent. Monks, the result of an economic marriage, is morally twisted by his obsession with wealth. This obsession with money leads him down a long, dark path of nefarious crimes and conspiracies.