Rollover Information
About the Series Schedule The Archive Learning Resources The American Collection Home Search Shop
Oliver Twist Links and Bibliography The Forum A Victorian Twister game Novel to Film Oliver Twist Teachers Guide The Dickens Timeline Olivers London Whos Who Section Essays an Interviews Masterpiece Theatre Oliver Twist
Teacher's Guide [imagemap with 9 links]

Teaching Oliver Twist: Viewing Strategies

Masterpiece Theatre's adaptation of Oliver Twist is made up of three two-hour programs. We know this can be a challenge for educators and have suggested some ways you might break up the programs to be viewed over several days. Remember, you or your media specialist can tape the programs off the air and use them for one year after broadcast. You can also purchase the videocassettes (see Shop).



Episode I
Airs Sunday, October 8, 2000, 9 - 11 pm
(Check local listings)

Plot Synopsis

Young Agnes Fleming becomes pregnant by the charming but feckless Edwin Leeford, and cannot understand why he won't marry her. The truth is he is stuck in a loveless, forced marriage to the soulless and greedy Elizabeth Leeford, who lives abroad with their epileptic son, Edward. Leeford sees a future with Agnes when he learns he is to inherit a fortune from a rich uncle in Rome. Elizabeth follows Leeford to Italy and reads his new will. It leaves his money to Agnes and her unborn child, who will inherit his father's fortune if he reaches adulthood without committing a crime or disgracing his family. Elizabeth poisons Edwin and burns the will, only to discover that another copy still exists. Mother and son go in search of Agnes, knowing they must kill her to inherit the money. Edward's attempt to murder Agnes fails, and she, having learned Leeford is dead, flees her disgraced family and travels on foot to a small seaside town. There, in the workhouse, she gives birth and dies, telling no one her name. The child is christened Oliver Twist by the parish beadle and sent to be raised at a baby farm until the age of nine.

Suggested viewing segments
Day 1
43 minutes
Start: Episode opening
End: Fleming family's arrival in the country. Brownlow looks at Agnes's portrait and sighs, "Edwin!"

Day 2
40 minutes
Start: Edward and Elizabeth Leeford in Paris
End: Agnes standing at the cliff

Day 3
30 minutes
Start: Brownlow playing the piano as Grimwig arrives
End: Conclusion of episode



Episode II
Airs Sunday, October 15, 2000, 9 - 11 pm
(Check local listings)

Plot Synopsis

Oliver is taken to live in the workhouse, where he is branded as a troublemaker when he dares to ask for more gruel. He is sold as an apprentice to an undertaker and is nearly found by Edward, who has learned Oliver's identity. Oliver runs away, and he is spotted by The Artful Dodger, who takes him to Fagin's den. He meets Nancy and the terrifying Bill Sikes. Edward, now calling himself Monks, has hired Fagin to set Oliver up as a criminal and disgrace him in the eyes of Brownlow, Leeford's best friend and the administrator of his fortune. The plan backfires when Oliver's innocence is proven to Brownlow and the warmhearted man takes him into his home, unaware that Oliver is his dear friend's lost son. Fagin and Sikes force Nancy to grab Oliver outside Brownlow's home. Fagin tries again to defame Oliver by sending him to burglarize Brownlow's country home. Bill Sikes and Toby Crackitt force a terrified Oliver to climb through a window, and he is shot by one of Brownlow's servants.

Suggested viewing segments
Day 1
41 minutes
Start: Episode opening
End: Mrs. Mann leaving Sally's deathbed. "Stone dead. Nothing to tell after all."

Day 2
40 minutes
Start: Fagin showing Monks the sleeping Oliver
End: Brownlow's argument with Mrs. Bedwin

Day 3
26 minutes
Start: The wedding of Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Mann
End: Conclusion of episode



Episode III
Airs Sunday, October 22, 2000, 9 - 11 pm
(Check local listings)

Plot Synopsis

Sikes drags Oliver from Brownlow's country house and leaves him for dead in a ditch. Oliver makes it back to the door, where he collapses and is recognized by Mrs. Bedwin, Brownlow's housekeeper, who takes him in. Meanwhile, Monks has managed to obtain the locket Agnes wore when she died in the workhouse, the key to proving Oliver's identity. Fagin and Monks track Oliver to the country house, where they are seen and recognized by Oliver and Rose Fleming, Agnes's sister, who has been raised by Brownlow. Nancy overhears Fagin and Monks plotting against Oliver, and visits Brownlow in London to alert him to Oliver's danger. Brownlow suspects Oliver's true identity when Nancy describes Monks. She protects Fagin and Sikes, but The Dodger tells them about her visit. Sikes murders Nancy. A mob pursues Sikes and Fagin. Sikes falls to his death and Fagin is arrested. Monks is forced to reveal all he knows about his half-brother, and Oliver learns his identity, finds a family, and secures his inheritance.

Suggested viewing segments
Day 1
41 minutes
Start: Episode opening
End: Brownlow's piano duet with Dr. Losborne

Day 2
42 minutes
Start: Bill and Nancy argue
End: Fagin's arrest

Day 3
30 minutes
Start: Tea at Brownlow's
End: Conclusion of episode



Keeping a Viewing Journal
To help your students keep track of the plot during the six-hour film and to focus their viewing, you may want to have them keep a viewing journal of some kind. You can use one of the following formats or try one of your own.
  • After each viewing session, have students spend five minutes writing down observations or plot summaries. Before the next viewing, ask volunteers to read their entries.

  • To help keep track of all the characters, divide journal pages into four columns:

    CharacterLocationRelationship to OliverGood or bad influence on Oliver

    Characters include Oliver, Edwin Leeford, Agnes Fleming, Elizabeth Leeford, Edward Leeford (Monks), Brownlow, Fagin, Bill Sikes, Nancy.

  • Make a page for each character as they are introduced. During or after each episode, have students note the important events that happen to each character, including conflicts, climaxes, and resolutions that affect them. They could also do this journal in two columns: students can record specific events in the left-hand column and their observations, interpretations, and analysis of the relevance of each event in the right.

  • After viewing, students can use their journals to create a Chain of Events graphic organizer. They may need to include one or more parallel plot strands that ultimately come together for the final event.

Other Web-based resources that may be helpful to students are the map of Oliver's London, the Who's Who, and the Dickens Timeline.


Return to Teaching Oliver Twist



Teacher's Guide:
Using the Web Site | Teaching Oliver Twist | Serial Publication
Other Web-based Resources | Printed Teacher's Guide | eNewsletter Sign-up

Essays + Interviews | Who's Who | Oliver's London | A Dickens Timeline
Teacher's Guide | Novel to Film | A Victorian Twister | The Forum
Links and Bibliography

Home | About The Series | The American Collection | The Archive
Schedule & Season | Feature Library | eNewsletter | Book Club
Learning Resources | Forum | Search | Shop | Feedback

WGBH Logo PBS logo

©


Masterpiece is sponsored by: