Oliver Twist plunges the reader into an uncomfortably unromantic world where people are starving to death, children are killed off by their keepers, the innocent suffer, and the cruel and exploitative prosper. Despite the horrifying accounts of reality, Dickens also portrayed a different kind of world. He portrayed several people capable of great compassion. Mrs. Bedwin, Rose Maylie, and Nancy all exemplified compassion for others through their care for the misfortunate and down-trodden.
Mrs. Bedwin was a kind old nurse who unquestioningly cared for Oliver in his time of need. She treated Oliver with great tenderness although she did not fully know his status or condition in life. In one encounter:
The old lady very gently placed Oliver's head upon the pillow; and, smoothing back his hair from his forehead, looked so kindly and lovingly in his face, that he could not help placing his little withered hand in hers, and drawing it around his neck.
All that she knows about Oliver is based on what she perceives from the sight of the enervated and ailing young boy. She cares for him not for a need of praise, but for the good of her frail patient's health. The sympathy and kindness Mrs. Bedwin showed to Oliver displayed the very meanings of compassion and mercy.
Rose Maylie showed her compassion to both Harry Maylie and Oliver Twist. Although Harry was deeply in love with Rose, and she with him, she sacrificed her happiness to prevent his suffering. She knew that her past would bring Harry down, so she precluded his misery by denying her own contentment. Rose also showed strong empathy for Oliver Twist. When others considered his past as a liability, she chose to look beyond it:
Even if he has been wicked, think how young he is;...