"Oliver Twist," Chapters 29-41

Published in 1838, Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" plunges the reader into a world of orphanages and thieves, where the conditions are awful and
survival is in doubt (etext found here).

Learn these word lists for the novel: Chapters 1-12, Chapters 13-28, Chapters 29-41, Chapters 42-53.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. eccentric
    conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual
    Talking all the way, he followed Mr. Giles up stairs; and while he is going up stairs, the reader may be informed, that Mr. Losberne, a surgeon in the neighbourhood, known through a circuit of ten miles round as "the doctor," had grown fat, more from good-humour than from good living: and was as kind and hearty, and withal as eccentric an old bachelor, as will be found in five times that space, by any explorer alive.
  2. adjoin
    lie adjacent to another or share a boundary
    The surgeon shook his head, in a manner which intimated that he feared it was very possible; and observing that they might disturb the patient, led the way into an adjoining apartment.
  3. indispensable
    absolutely necessary
    "Then my aunt invests you with full power," said Rose, smiling through her tears; "but pray don't be harder upon the poor fellows than is indispensably necessary."
  4. retort
    a quick reply to a question or remark
    "You seem to think," retorted the doctor, "that everybody is disposed to be hard-hearted to-day, except yourself, Miss Rose.
  5. accede
    yield to another's wish or opinion
    "Very good," retorted the doctor; "then so much the more reason for acceding to my proposition."
  6. circumlocution
    an indirect way of expressing something
    Mr. Losberne, who appeared desirous of gaining time, recounted them at great length, and with much circumlocution.
  7. consummation
    the act of bringing to completion or fruition
    This consummation being arrived at, Blathers and Duff cleared the room, and held a long council together, compared with which, for secrecy and solemnity, a consultation of great doctors on the knottiest point in medicine, would be mere child's play.
  8. exonerate
    pronounce not guilty of criminal charges
    "Surely," said Rose, "the poor child's story, faithfully repeated to these men, will be sufficient to exonerate him."
  9. precede
    move ahead in time or space
    Closely following Mr. Losberne, the two officers ascended to Oliver's bedroom; Mr. Giles preceding the party, with a lighted candle.
  10. surmise
    infer from incomplete evidence
    Among other ingenious surmises, the question was then raised, whether Mr. Giles had really hit anybody; and upon examination of the fellow pistol to that which he had fired, it turned out to have no more destructive loading than gunpowder and brown paper
  11. parley
    a negotiation between enemies
    Before he could shut the door, however, the doctor had passed into the parlour, without a word of parley.
  12. vestige
    an indication that something has been present
    He looked anxiously round; not an article of furniture; not a vestige of anything, animate or inanimate; not even the position of the cupboards; answered Oliver's description!
  13. esteem
    an attitude of admiration
    Now, the fact was that the excellent doctor had never acted upon anything but impulse all through his life, and it was no bad compliment to the nature of the impulses which governed him, that so far from being involved in any peculiar troubles or misfortunes, he had the warmest respect and esteem of all who knew him.
  14. bewail
    regret strongly
    This bitter disappointment caused Oliver much sorrow and grief, even in the midst of his happiness; for he had pleased himself, many times during his illness, with thinking of all that Mr. Brownlow and Mrs. Bedwin would say to him: and what delight it would be to tell them how many long days and nights he had passed in reflecting on what they had done for him, and in bewailing his cruel separation from them.
  15. cupidity
    extreme greed for material wealth
    Sending the plate, which had so excited Fagin's cupidity, to the banker's; and leaving Giles and another servant in care of the house, they departed to a cottage at some distance in the country, and took Oliver with them.
  16. squalid
    foul and run-down and repulsive
    Oliver whose days had been spent among squalid crowds, and in the midst of noise and brawling, seemed to enter on a new existence there.
  17. unsightly
    unpleasant to look at
    Hard by, was a little churchyard; not crowded with tall unsightly gravestones, but full of humble mounds, covered with fresh turf and moss: beneath which, the old people of the village lay at rest.
  18. embellishment
    the act of adding extraneous decorations to something
    In the morning, Oliver would be a-foot by six o'clock, roaming the fields, and plundering the hedges, far and wide, for nosegays of wild flowers, with which he would return laden, home; and which he took great care and consideration to arrange, to the best advantage, for the embellishment of the breakfast-table.
  19. felicity
    state of well-being characterized by contentment
    So three months glided away; three months which, in the life of the most blessed and favoured of mortals, might have been unmingled happiness, and which, in Oliver's, were true felicity.
  20. suppress
    control and refrain from showing
    She gave way to such great grief, that Oliver, suppressing his own emotion, ventured to remonstrate with her; and to beg, earnestly, that, for the sake of the dear young lady herself, she would be more calm.
  21. verify
    confirm the truth of
    When morning came, Mrs. Maylies's predictions were but too well verified.
  22. writhing
    moving in a twisting or snake-like or wormlike fashion
    He advanced towards Oliver, as if with the intention of aiming a blow at him, but fell violently on the ground: writhing and foaming, in a fit.
  23. multifarious
    having many aspects
    The doctor then communicated, in reply to multifarious questions from his young friend, a precise account of his patient's situation; which was quite as consolatory and full of promise, as Oliver's statement had encouraged him to hope;
  24. melancholy
    a feeling of thoughtful sadness
    The melancholy which had seemed to the sad eyes of the anxious boy to hang, for days past, over every object, beautiful as all were, was dispelled by magic.
  25. replenish
    fill something that had previously been emptied
    Oliver could not help noticing that the withered flowers were never thrown away, although the little vase was regularly replenished;
  26. discern
    detect with the senses
    The sides and brinks of the ditches were of damp clay; but in no one place could they discern the print of men's shoes, or the slightest mark which would indicate that any feet had pressed the ground for hours before.
  27. accompany
    go or travel along with
    Before noon, you announce that you are going to do me the honour of accompanying me as far as I go, on your road to London.
  28. boisterous
    noisy and lacking in restraint or discipline
    Oliver walked into the window-recess to which Mr. Maylie beckoned him; much surprised at the mixture of sadness and boisterous spirits, which his whole behaviour displayed.
  29. prerogative
    a right reserved exclusively by a person or group
    "I am going to sit here, as long as I think proper, ma'am," rejoined Mr. Bumble; "and although I was not snoring, I shall snore, gape, sneeze, laugh, or cry, as the humour strikes me; such being my prerogative."
  30. meritorious
    deserving reward or praise
    After making a tour of the house, and thinking, for the first time, that the poor-laws really were too hard on people; and that men who ran away from their wives, leaving them chargeable to the parish, ought, in justice, to be visited with no punishment at all, but rather rewarded as meritorious individuals who had suffered much; Mr. Bumble came to a room where some of the female paupers were usually employed in washing the parish linen
  31. reverie
    an abstracted state of absorption
    Mr. Bumble boxed the ears of the boy who opened the gate for him (for he had reached the portal in his reverie); and walked, distractedly, into the street.
  32. averse
    strongly opposed
    "I suppose, a married man," replied Mr. Bumble, shading his eyes with his hand, and surveying the stranger, from head to foot, in evident perplexity, "is not more averse to turning an honest penny when he can, than a single one.
  33. tirade
    a speech of violent denunciation
    "It's not of him I want to hear; I've heard enough of him," said the stranger, stopping Mr. Bumble in the outset of a tirade on the subject of poor Oliver's vices.
  34. lucrative
    producing a sizeable profit
    But Mr. Bumble was cunning enough; and he at once saw that an opportunity was opened, for the lucrative disposal of some secret in the possession of his better half.
  35. profound
    of the greatest intensity; complete
    They went on, in profound silence; every now and then, Mr. Bumble relaxed his pace, and turned his head as if to make sure that his helpmate was following; then, discovering that she was close at his heels, he mended his rate of walking, and proceeded, at a considerable increase of speed, towards their place of destination.
    "Profound" also means "showing intellectual penetration or emotional depth"--both this and the given definition seem to fit a mocking attitude towards Mr. and Mrs. Bumble, since they might be walking silently at the moment, but they are on their way to make money off a twelve-year-old secret about a woman who had nursed Oliver's dead mother.
  36. reverberate
    ring or echo with sound
    It was before this ruinous building that the worthy couple paused, as the first peal of distant thunder reverberated in the air, and the rain commenced pouring violently down.
  37. descry
    catch sight of
    Following the sound, Mr. Bumble raised his head, and descried a man looking out of a door, breast-high, on the second story.
  38. repugnance
    intense aversion
    They were no sooner gone, than Monks, who appeared to entertain an invincible repugnance to being left alone, called to a boy who had been hidden somewhere below.
  39. panegyric
    a formal expression of praise
    Uttering this last panegyric, Master Bates produced, from one of his extensive pockets, a full-sized wine-bottle, carefully corked; while Mr. Dawkins, at the same instant, poured out a wine-glassful of raw spirits from the bottle he carried: which the invalid tossed down his throat without a moment's hesitation.
  40. recompense
    make payment to
    You ought to stand something handsome, Fagin, to recompense me for keeping house so long.
  41. asperity
    harshness of manner
    It was fortunate for her that the possession of money occasioned him so much employment next day in the way of eating and drinking; and withal had so beneficial an effect in smoothing down the asperities of his temper; that he had neither time nor inclination to be very critical upon her behaviour and deportment.
  42. atonement
    the act of making amends for sin or wrongdoing
    "It is never too late," said Rose, "for penitence and atonement."
    Penitence (remorse for your past conduct) usually comes hand in hand with atonement, and although Nancy believes it is too late for her, she actually is feeling remorseful about how she'd dragged Oliver back to Fagin, and she is now trying to make amends by letting Rose know that Oliver is in danger.
  43. irascible
    quickly aroused to anger
    And, doubtless, he would, in this first outbreak, have carried the intention into effect without a moment's consideration of the consequences, if he had not been restrained, in part, by corresponding violence on the side of Mr. Brownlow, who was himself of an irascible temperament, and partly by such arguments and representations as seemed best calculated to dissuade him from his hotbrained purpose.
  44. quixotic
    not sensible about practical matters
    "Very good," replied Mr. Brownlow smiling; "but no doubt they will bring that about for themselves in the fulness of time, and if we step in to forestal them, it seems to me that we shall be performing a very Quixotic act, in direct opposition to our own interest--or at least to Oliver's, which is the same thing."
  45. wry
    humorously sarcastic or mocking
    Although Mr. Losberne received with many wry faces a proposal involving a delay of five whole days, he was fain to admit that no better course occurred to him just then; and as both Rose and Mrs. Maylie sided very strongly with Mr. Brownlow, that gentleman's proposition was carried unanimously.

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