Oliver Twist is the story of a young orphan, Oliver, and his attempts to stay good in a society that refuses to help. Oliver is born in a workhouse, to a mother not known to anyone in the town.
She dies right after giving birth to him, and he is sent to the parochial orphanage, where he and the other orphans are treated terribly and fed very little. When he turns nine, he is sent to the workhouse, where again he and the others are treated badly and practically starved.
The other boys, unable to stand their hunger any longer, decide to draw straws to choose who will have to go up and ask for more food. Oliver loses.
On the appointed day, after finishing his first serving of gruel, he goes up and asks for more. Mr. Bumble, the beadle, and the board are outraged, and decide they must get rid of Oliver, apprenticing him to the parochial undertaker, Mr. Sowerberry. It is not great there either, and after an attack on his mother’s memory, Oliver runs away.
Oliver is very happy with Mr. Brownlow, but Fagin and his co-conspirators are not happy to have lost Oliver, who may give away their hiding place. So one day, when Mr. Brownlow entrusts Oliver to return some books to the bookseller for him, Nancy spots Oliver, and kidnaps him, taking him back to Fagin.
Oliver slowly recovers, and is extremely happy and grateful to be with such kind and generous people, who in turn are ecstatic to find that Oliver is such a good-natured boy. When he is well enough, they take him to see Mr. Brownlow, but they find his house empty—he has moved to the West Indies.
Meanwhile, Fagin and his mysterious partner Monks have not given up on finding Oliver, and one day Oliver wakens from a nightmare to find them staring at him through his window. He raises the alarm, but they escape.
Sikes is on the run, but all of London is in an uproar, and he eventually hangs himself accidentally in falling off a roof, while trying to escape from the mob surrounding him. Fagin is arrested and tried, and, after a visit from Oliver, is executed.
Oliver, Mr. Brownlow, and the Maylies end up living in peace and comfort in a small village in the English countryside.