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How Does Dickens Present the Character of Fagin in Chapter 52 of Oliver Twist

  • Date Submitted: 05/03/2011 12:18 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 70.7 
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Oliver Twist is a well known novel which features controversial and unique characters. Set in London town, this famous book was written by Charles Dickens, a renowned author. It was published in 1838. Oliver Twist mirrored a lot of what was going on in that time in London, such as poverty, prostitution, and murder. They are three of the main themes which run all the way through Oliver Twist, as we are taken on a gripping journey from workhouses to hospitals, mansions to prisons, all the way back to the squalid, rat ridden streets of London.

When Fagin is in his cell, we are given references to living conditions in 19th century London. Some examples of this are ‘a stone bench’ which implies that people used to sleep rough in Victorian London. Previous descriptions of Fagin suggest that he is very similar to early preconceptions of the devil. We are made to think, as readers, that Fagin is evil and will undoubtedly go to hell. ‘Sitting in a vault strewn with dead bodies’ could be seen as a morbid grave yard or mortuary or again, as hell. The ongoing theme of darkness links with death, which Fagin knows will be his fate. ‘It was very dark; why didn’t they bring a light?’ Shows that light is needed in this situation, but they are deprived of it, maybe to make them realise they have done evil things, so their punishment is to be starved of light, a basic life necessity, until they are slaughtered for everyone to see. The lack of light links with the idea that life and death are linked with light and dark.
Death is a theme which resonates across the novel. ‘They rose up in such quick succession’ showing that peoples lives could be over so soon, after a relatively long life of easy living. This cross references with Shakespeare’s Richard III, in the ‘parade of ghosts’. Fagin is haunted by ghosts of previously living men that he knew, and they show his guilt. The Jew was then terrified. ‘He had seen some of them die, and joked too, because they died with prayers on...


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