Times Educational Supplement Partner badge

Film Education - Resources, Training, Events

Skip to main content

Follow us on: Twitter, Facebook RSS
Email this page to a friend

Oliver Twist

Rich and Poor

Mr Bumble
Members of Fagin's gang


Mr Bumble would have been able to read and write and would have had some formal schooling.

There was some attempt to provide children with some education at the workhouse. Other children, for example Noah Claypole, were 'charity boys': these charity schools were organised by churches. This provides Noah with a feeling of superiority as we see when he picks on Oliver in the novel.



Mr Bumble works as the master of the workhouse. His role in society was seen to be that of a moral guardian of the souls of the 'undeserving' poor. As part of his job his food and board were taken care of. This was in sharp contrast with the diet consumed by the workhouse inmates.

Children often began full time work as young as five. This of course depended on social background. Here in Oliver Twist the children in Fagin's gang do not have recognised employment, instead working as organised pick pockets for Fagin who in return offers them food and shelter.



Mr Bumble’s dinner on the way to London consisted of "steaks, oyster sauce, porter, hot gin and water"

Food in the workhouse included "an unlimited supply of water and a periodic supply of oatmeal. Onion twice a week and half a roll on Saturdays."



This was another way that class and status were made obvious. Gentlemen, as we see several times in both the novel and the film, usually carried handkerchiefs (often silk). These then became the targets for FaginÕs gang who could not have afforded such items and used them to generate income.

The children in the film are seen to be wearing clothes that do not fit, as they wear whatever they can get.

See Also

Street Life

Related Activities

Death, Diet and Disease