IMPORTANT CHARACTERS IN OLIVER TWIST Oliver
A Symbolic character: Oliver is the central character of the novel. He is also a link among the three different worlds depicted in the novel-the workhouse, the crime world and the world of the genteel middle class people. Dickens wanted to make him an instrument of exposing the inhumanity and the callousness o0f the workhouse and the underworld. He belongs to no class. Oliver is symbolic of the principle of good. And Oliver being a deprived and out casting child.
He is more a mysterious force than a real character. Monk is described as a dark stranger. Nancy tells Mr. Brownlow that there is a mark like a burn or a scald which he tries to keep covered with his handkerchief. He is subject to fits, most probably the fits of epilepsy. When he suddenly comes across Oliver in the inn yard, he is much taken by surprise that he curses the boy and then falls into a fit. He is completely evil-minded and his evil is fully reflected in his appearance.
Monk is incorrigibly wicked. It seems that he has inherited this wickedness from his mother .He pays a quite a huge sum to Fagin and it is mainly to satisfy him that Oliver is involved into the robbery at Chertsey although he is furious when he throws the locket into the dark, surging waters of the river Thames.
He helps to bring out the inhuman workhouse system which was a bane of the Victorian era. Mr. Bumble seems to enjoy inflicting pain on the poor little orphans. Basically Mr. Bumble is a very greedy man when he comes across the advertisement inserted by Mr. Brownlow for some information about Oliver; he immediately approaches him and speaks against.
Fagin is the old man who provides shelter to Oliver on his arrival in London. Fagin is the leader of a gang of young pickpockets , who also deals in stolen goods and is quite willing to undertake any other villainy that might offer him some material benefit. The dodger, charley Bates, Tom chit ling and later Noah Claypole work for him.
Fagin corrupts innocent children, converts them into thieves and pickpockets and permanently condemns them to the accursed underworld.
Dickens has made Fagin a Jew and throughout the novel he identifies himself as ‘a Jew’. Fagin was the only Jew in the Novel, All other criminals are Christians. Fagin is never attacked as a Jew, he attacked as a criminal.
On the surface he talks very politely, but basically he is a heartless schemer. He set Noah claypole as a spy on Nancy and when he realizes that Nancy has disclosed some of the vital secrets no Mr. Brownlow, he incites Sikes to murder her. He doesn’t trust ‘anyone and he has no sympathies for anybody. He is shrewd and cunning master-mind with a brilliant. Fagin is the evil spirit that always keeps hovering around Oliver.
Bill Sikes is the most terrifying figure in the novel. He is a thief and house breaker for whom there are no limits and no laws except his own self. Although he belongs to Fagin’s gang, even Fagin is afraid of him.
Dickens tries to reinforce this picture of Sikes with a number of adjectives like ‘savage’, ‘surly’, ‘bitter’, ‘fierce’, ‘harsh’, ‘furious’, and ‘desperate’.
Right from the beginning we are given indications that Sikes is almost inhuman. He owns a dog ,but nowhere does he show any trace of affection towards it. Nevertheless these feeling of faith and respect are nowhere revealed in his outward manner towards her. Instead, he displays extreme ruthlessness and cruelty when he murders her. Throughout the burglary episode, he is rough and threatening towards Oliver. He tells Oliver to be careful or he would shoot him. At one moment he is almost close to carrying out his threats but is restrained by Toby Crackit.
After Nancy’s murder. He is so frightened that he starts running from place to place. He feels he is being followed by Nancy’s apparition, the eyes specially, and he does not find anyrest anywhere. Sikes at this moment is not merely a hunted animal but a human being in the grip of terrible guilt :he suffers ,in fact, from conscience and thus finally is transformed brute to man.
Nancy is a drab (prostitute) working for Fagin’s gang. Only two aspects of her nature are given prominence-.She agrees to respect Oliver and bring him back him back to Fagin’s den. Later when she overhears the conspiracy being hatched by Fagin and Monks, She decides to restore Oliver to the genteel world from where she had captured him. She might have been if she had grown up in a different environment. In particular when she meets Rose and Mr. Brownlow on the London Bridge with Noah Claypole over-hearing them ,she behaves in a very sentimental manner.
Mr. Brownlow is the kind old gentlemen whom Oliver is accused of having robbed. He is the representative of the middle class benevolent world. Mr. Brownlow makes every effort to help her and to help Oliver. Ultimately he adopts Olive as his own son and settles down in the countryside at a small distance from the Maylies.