The Presentation of Bill Sykes in Oliver Twist
TASK: Analyse the presentation of Bill Sykes in the novel `Oliver
Twist`. You should refer to aspects such as the author's viewpoint,
language and the social and historical context.
When Charles Dickens' wrote his novel `Oliver Twist` he first put pen
to paper around 1830's and eventually completed the classic towards
the later end of the decade.
The resulting book was compiled from chapters produced as instalments
in one or more magazines. This proved to provide a more constant and
reliable source of income due to the fact that he would be paid for
every story, no-matter how many copies he sold, and if the stories
were successful a novel could come out of it. This reflects on
Dickens' poorer childhood, and also his plain common sense.
In composing the story, alongside writing for money, Dickens attempted
to highlight the ever-growing socio-economic pressures and victims of
life in Victorian England's worse off communes. He managed to show his
feelings even though the story was written as if vocalised by a
seemingly unbiased narrative speaker. In theory the impartial
storyteller would relate and objective report presenting the events of
the tale as if an omniscient character, but one that is never referred
to. However he inserts strong emotive language into the storyline so
as to influence your views, in effect telling you what you MUST think
of the characters or situations. This he uses with great regularity
when describing the villain Bill Sykes.
Sykes is one of the pivotal characters, possibly the single most evil
villain in the novel, and over the course of the tale he traces a
barbaric path of evil doing mixed liberally with cruel and malevolent
violence. He is described as "The housebreaker" and works as partner
and equal to Fagin the Jewish fence, sow e see that he is obviously a
notorious criminal. Whilst Fagin runs his child pickpocket scam and
sells off the "merchandise" he still looks to Sykes for "greater
enterprises" such as burglaries of large houses in the richer London
suburbs. In stark contrast to the houses he "works" at Bill lives in
the heart of one of London's most poverty stricken districts. This
gives us an impression of Bill living as only a parasite, feeding of
the honest workers of his city. It also allows Dickens to push the
idea that it is partly the aforesaid poverty that drives people to
breaking the law.
Dickens also tells that the heartless piece of work as being in an
intimate sexual relationship with the "fallen lady" Nancy. These two
core characters' bleakly contrasting personalities serve to emphasise
the evil in the heart of "The robber".
The use of simple language in Sykes' speech not only appeals to a wide