Sikes And Nancy Essay

Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist

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Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist Nineteenth century London was a city brimming with life .The largest
city in Europe, it housed an ever-increasing population, many of whom
had come to London from the poorer rural areas of England and Ireland.
Large groups of poor people would live together trying to make ends
meet and often turning to a life of crime in order to survive. The
respectable classes were often completely oblivious to the plight of
these people, who lived in a hidden world of squalor.

Dickens wrote 'Oliver Twist' to bring to people's attention the
suffering of the poor. His writing was considered controversial and
was full of irony and sarcasm. He showed a great sympathy and
understanding for the poor people of London.

The book is written in the third person because Dickens is not
involved in the story, he is writing about the lives of many other
people.

The focus of my essay is to highlight what the character of Bill Sikes
brings to the novel 'Oliver Twist'.

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"Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist." 123HelpMe.com. 14 Mar 2018
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Bill Sikes is a very cruel and
violent man with a short temper, but he does have a sensitive side as
well which he occasionally shows to his girlfriend Nancy, and his dog
Bullseye. He makes many of the characters in the novel feel very
uneasy and scared around him. This terrorisation is just one of the
feelings he brings to the novel.

Throughout the novel, Sikes provides a sense of what Victorian life
was like for the under-privileged. He highlights the life that the
lower class citizens had to lead, a life of crime often being the only
way to survive. He is a king among thieves, who fear his violence and
his temper, but Sikes is a very insecure person and trusts no one.
Because he is such an aggressive, cruel and unpopular man he is never
certain whether the people around him will betray him or not. He
always carries a weapon, and it almost seems that he is scared of the
world he lives in. He shows a perfect example of how people had to
think in the nineteenth century. He is a product of society and shows
the best way of survival.

"He was utterly and incurably bad"

Although Sikes is a housebreaker and a thief, he also lives off the
illegal earnings of Fagin and his 'boys.' His selfishness and
desperation to survive is shown when he becomes too ill to 'work' but
makes sure that he is adequately fed, by eating Nancy's share of food
and letting her almost starve to death.

Bill Sikes injects a sense of drama, tension and suspense throughout
the narrative. Every time any aspect of the other characters' lives is
going well Sikes comes along and ruins it. He creates the most
suspense when Oliver has been taken by Nancy to Mr Brownlow. Anxiety
and apprehension are created when reading on and trying to find out if
Oliver manages to get away. When Oliver is caught, Sikes also creates
tension and suspense while the reader is finding out what is going to
happen to Oliver.

"The man struggled violently to release his arms, but those of the
girl were clasped round his and tear her as he would, he could not
tear them away" pg 44.

A second time when Sikes causes tension is when he comes to collect
money from Fagin. Fagin was always in a position where he could not
say no nor say how much money because of the tension between them. He
was fearful of Sikes.

**Quotation**

Sikes brings out many of the other character's real sides, which makes
them appear more complex. Although Fagin acts the boss around his boys
and makes out that he is not afraid of anyone he is, and has always
been, scared of Sikes. Sikes brings out the real Fagin and shows
everyone that Fagin is not as confident as he makes himself out to be,
and that he is scared of others, especially Sikes.

" "Only me Bill, only me my dear," said the Jew looking in." Pg.168

This quote demonstrates that Fagin does not feel comfortable enough
with Sikes. He can't even walk into his house without having to tell
Sikes who it is and poke his head around the door. He feels worried
that Sikes may even attack him if he does not identify himself. This
only goes to show Sikes' unpredictability and the violence he is
capable of. Moreover, additional information about Sikes is provided
through his reaction to Nancy. Sikes shows a sensitive and loving side
to Nancy when he is at his weakest point. Sikes is also revealed as
being very insecure and vulnerable. The fact that he constantly
carries around a weapon with him shows that he is scared of something
and highly insecure. Nancy brings out the other side of his
personality. However this is very difficult for her to do and these
episodes are short lived. Sikes does love Nancy but considers it would
be showing a weakness to display his emotions in front of others. He
is never able to say or show how much he loves Nancy, for fear of
loosing respect, but when they are alone together his body language
shows intimacy towards her.

" Sikes locking her hand in his, fell back upon the pillow: turning
his eyes upon her face, they closed; opened again; closed once more;
again opened." Pg 366.

The behaviour of the other characters in the presence of Sikes changes
as the story unfolds. At the start of the novel they act very scared
around Sikes and don't do anything to get in his way. But by the end
of the novel the characters become more rebellious and start to stand
up to Sikes. This is the dramatic crescendo of the novel. It seems
that the characters have become so angry with Sikes after the murder
of Nancy that they don't care anymore what they say or do. They have
realised that he is vulnerable right then and if they unite against
him they could be free of him. A key example of this is Charley Bates:

" 'Witness you three' cried the boy, shaking his clenched fist…'you'll
help me. Murder! Help! Down with him! ' " Pg 475.

The different emotions and characteristics that Sikes brings out in
the other characters encourage the reader to read on. Sikes makes it
easier for the reader to see the other sides of the characters,
whether it is the scared and quiet side or the loud and rebellious
side.

Bill Sikes compounds the moral sentiment of the text. He does this
most when he dies because he shows the real consequence of his
actions. He shows the moral of the story, from all the mistakes
throughout his life, that basically good will triumph over evil. His
life of crime and violence, which ultimately led to Nancy's murder and
Sikes' death, is proof of this.

After careful consideration, I have concluded that Bill Sikes brings
violence, horror and drama to the novel. He is the reason that nearly
every character that he interacts with has a terrible life, but by the
end of the story he also invokes the reader to be sympathetic and
understanding of the situation he is in.

Bill Sikes is capable of a huge amount of violence, which has always
forced other characters to back down, and this has therefore made
their lives worse. This violence eventually leads to the death of
Nancy and ultimately Sikes' own death. Sikes could also be seen as the
anti-hero. He ruins every aspect of Oliver's life that is good for
him. When Oliver goes to live with Mr Brownlow, and is happy, Bill
Sikes takes him away. Sikes murders Nancy the one person Oliver loves
most in the world.

In conclusion, the character of Bill Sikes brings gloom to this novel.
His character is the reason for many parts of the novel being
emotional and depressing. Even his death upsets the reader, as at that
point the reader can finally see how defenceless he is. Sikes is a
victim of circumstance and the reader finally begins to sympathise
with him.

Bill Sikes brings negative emotion, violence, horror and depression to
this novel.



Why is Nancy such an important character in the novel Oliver Twist?

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Why is Nancy such an important character in the novel Oliver Twist?

There are many reasons Nancy’s character is such an important one in
the novel.

One of these reasons is that when you first see her you are told
that she wears a lot of make up and that she has a great deal of hair
and she is ‘not very tidy about her shoes and stockings’. At that time
this was not a respectable way to dress for a young, respectable
woman, so it gives you the idea that she is a prostitute .At this
moment you think that she is just a low- life woman trying to make a
living.

Even though most people would recognise Nancy for what she is, Oliver
does not and thinks of her as a nice lady. This tells you that Oliver
is meant to be innocent and does not have a clue on what is going on
around him.

Slowly as the story starts to develop, you get the idea that Nancy has
another, more caring, side to her. You find out about this side on
page 142 where she says to Bill Sikes that he’ll have to go through
her if he wants to attack Oliver with his dog, Bullseye. At this point
she also says to Bill that she doesn’t care if he splits her head
against the wall but she still won’t get out of his way. This tells
you that she is caring and does not want Oliver to suffer.

Nancy feels sorry for Oliver because she recognises his innocence and
does not want him to get involved in the criminal underworld as she
did. She is reminded of how she got involved in the criminal
underworld at such a young age and does not want Oliver to waste his
life as she did. When this happens the reader starts to feel a bit
sorry for Nancy.

Nancy also helps to develop the story. It could have ended when Oliver
meets Mr.Brownlow but Nancy kidnaps him, allowing the story to
progress. After kidnapping him, she tries to reunite Oliver with Rose
Maylie so this also helps the plot. By this stage of the story, Nancy’s
life is near its end so Charles Dickens begins to build up sympathy
towards Nancy.

He does this by writing up a cruel end to her life. It starts with the
Jew, Fagin, employing Noah Claypole (whom Fagin knows as Bolter) to go
and spy on Nancy.

Throughout the story, Dickens uses the word ‘Jew’ when referring to
Fagin. This tells you that the anti-Semitic nature of the British does

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Why is Nancy such an important character in the novel Oliver Twist?." 123HelpMe.com. 14 Mar 2018
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=99148>.

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not change until after world war two. The play ‘Merchant of Venice’
was written approximately 250 years before and that also had a very
anti – Semitic nature to it. In approximately 250 years, there is no
difference in their attitude towards Jews.

Once having employed Noah, Fagin finds out that Nancy has been meeting
with Rose Maylie. Fagin is furious with Nancy and intends to get her
killed in some way or another. Nancy by this stage of the novel is
starting to see so called ‘signs of death’. She sees things such as
coffins and church bells. All of these things are somehow linked to
death in at least one way. By doing this Dickens builds up even more
sympathy for Nancy, because she is now almost about to be brutally
murdered by Bill Sikes.

In this book there are some characters who are too good to be true and
some who are too bad to be true. For example, Mr. Brownlow and Rose
Maylie are too kind to a boy who has just tried to rob them. On the
other hand, Fagin and Sikes are just too bad, to be even a bit
realistic. For example, Fagin, even though Sikes is his comrade,
wishes dearly to poison him. Sikes is also made out to be too bad as
well. He is always talking in a cruel and harsh manner towards his so-
called ‘girlfriend’ Nancy,whom he, in the end, murders in such an
unbelievable way, that you couldn’t possible believe that he is a
realistic character.

Throughout the book you really only meet two believable characters,
who are Nancy and Mr. Brownlow’s friend, Mr. Grimwig. I think they are
the most believable because they have two sides to them. For example,
Nancy is both kind and caring, but also is part of a criminal
organisation, while Mr. Grimwig is said to be a good person but
doesn’t trust Oliver with the books that Mr. Brownlow has given to
him. Who would anyway? This boy has just been in court for having been
pick pocketing ,so Mr. Grimwig in my opinion is right, to not trust
Oliver.

Fagin gets his own way in the end and gets Nancy killed by Bill Sikes,
by provoking him into it. He says such things as ‘you won’t
be-too-violent, Bill?’and ‘I mean, not too violent for safety .Be
crafty, Bill, and not too bold’. When he knows perfectly well that he
doesn’t care about being violent and is not ever crafty, but he still
says it to him to get him fired up so he will feel no remorse when it
comes to killing Nancy. Fagin also wants Bill Sikes to kill Nancy
quietly so they are not caught.

Even when Nancy is about to be killed she is glad to see Bill.
Dickens writes ‘It is you, Bill’ said the girl, with an expression of
pleasure at his return’. This makes the reader sympathize with Nancy
even more. This also proves that she has two sides to her character.
Even though she has had a meeting with Rose Maylie, She has not
betrayed any of her friends.

This makes Nancy probably the most believable in the entire novel.
Nancy is an important character mainly because of her two sided
personality and because of how she cares for Oliver and this helps
develop the plot of the story.

Lastly because of her being a not too bad and not too good character
she helps to make the whole story more realistic and believable. She
is the only member of the underworld to be liked by the reader and is
also the only one who is nice to Oliver.



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