Act I Synopsis
Oliver! opens in the dining hall of a workhouse. Oliver, a 13-year-old orphan who has been brought up in the workhouse, approaches the workhouse master and asks for more food. This outrages the workhouse staff and prompts them to remove him from the workhouse, selling him to a local undertaker as an apprentice. After one of the undertaker’s employees mocks Oliver’s mother, he escapes his apprenticeship and runs away to London. A week later Oliver arrives in Paddington Green in central London where the Artful Dodger approaches him. The Dodger brings him to Fagin’s hideout where he is taught how to be a thief. Oliver is sent out with the other young thieves where the police capture him after Mr. Brownlow’s pocket is picked.
Act II Synopsis
Oliver was released by the police and taken in by Mr. Brownlow after he was shown to be innocent. The Artful Dodger has rushed to the Three Cripples, a tavern in Clerkenwell, where he explains to Fagin that the police have caught Oliver. Fagin decided that someone must go and find out where Oliver has been taken and if he has told the police anything about Fagin and the rest of the thieving operation. Two weeks later, at Mr. Brownlow’s house, Oliver is sent to return some books against the advice of Mr. Brownlow’s friend. On the way to the bookseller Oliver is accosted by Nancy and taken back to Fagin, where Mr. Brownlow’s goods are distributed amongst the thieves. Back at the workhouse, revelations about Oliver’s true identity prompt the workhouse masters to approach Mr. Brownlow, who realizes he is Oliver’s grandfather. Nancy has a change of heart and also goes to Mr. Brownlow to help get Oliver away from Fagin. Nancy brings Oliver to London Bridge where she is murdered by Sykes, who is in turn killed by a policeman. Oliver is reunited with his grandfather and Fagin decides to turn a new leaf in order to find a new, legitimate form of employment.