Historical Events  Books
Oliver Twist

Seconds please

MMDE: Please Sir, can I have some more?

Current: Please Sir, I want some more

When young Oliver Twist went up to Mr. Bumble, bowl in hand, to ask for seconds, what exactly did he say? Most people remember it as 'Please Sir, can I have some more?', but this isn't what is in the book or the movies. It's 'Please Sir, I want some more.' Are all these people with this false memory experiencing an MMDE?

Many also remember it slightly differently as "Please Sir, may I have some more?". 

It's been the subject of parody/satire over the years, with many assuming it's the can/may version. For example, Olivia Twist, the version with a girl as the lead often acted out by schoolchildren at Christmas, has her saying "Please Sir, can I have less?". Whatever he said, Mr. Bumble certainly got the message...

The Parish Boy's Progress

Few people are aware Oliver Twist is also titled "The Parish Boy's Progress". It might have been based loosely on a real person - Robert Blincoe - who's account of his life as child labourer was widely read at the time Dickens wrote his novel. It was published in serial form over two years in 10 episodes, before being printed as the book we're all now familiar with.

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Drawn from Dickens life

William Sykes was a shopkeeper on the same road as Charles Dickens when he was a teenager. Dickens lived just a few doors away from an ominous workhouse. Of course, a workhouse plays a crucial role in Oliver Twist and the main pantagonist is Bill Sikes. Dickens is renowned for going beyond merely using a few similar place names in his novels to those he was familiar with, but actual people and names as we see here. Even the murder of Nancy in the novel seems to have been based on a real event.

The famous scene where Oliver wants more food is probably so well-known because it capture the feel, essence and substance of the whole story in one memorable moment. Some are sure they remember it corrrectly and it has changed, most dismiss it as unimportant because the actual words don't change the overall impression at all.