How Dickens Creates an Atmosphere of Violence Around the Characters of Sikes and Nancy in Oliver Twist
Essay Preview: How Dickens Creates an Atmosphere of Violence Around the Characters of Sikes and Nancy in Oliver Twist
Report this essay
How does Dickens create an atmosphere of violence around the characters of Sikes and Nancy? Refer closely to chapters 45-50.
Oliver twist is story written by an author named Charles Dickens, set in Victorian Britain. The story portrays a young boy by the name of Oliver Twist, born in the workhouse and later sold to an undertaker, where he is ill-treated and beaten. When he is threatened with a life at the workhouse Oliver decides to run away to London where he meets the Artful Dodger and is introduced to Fagin, the leader of a band of pick-pockets who later proves to be an untrustworthy character. After being wrongly accused of stealing he is arrested where Mr Brownlow notices him and takes him in. Fagin steals him back for fear of betrayal, Nancy decides to help Oliver return to Mr Brownlow and in doing so deceives Bill Sikes her violent boyfriend. When Fagin learns of her betrayal he informs her boyfriend who vows to punish her. Bill carries out Nancys violent murder and is haunted by his conscience. Bill becomes crazy with guilt and eventually hangs himself accidentally.
Dickens story was issued as a serial over a period of many months. Each chapter finishes with a cliff-hanger with an intention to leave the reader curious and with an incentive to read the next issue. Throughout the story Dickens uses violent adjectives in calm scenarios which increases the tension felt in the reader, also with the use of pathetic fallacy the reader is made to feel the build up of violent events to come.
Throughout the story an atmosphere of violence is created in the lead up to Nancys murder, through the characters and their behaviours, Dickens descriptions of setting and how the dynamics of Nancy and Bill Sikes relationship are portrayed. Fagin, for example, is a sneaky character of whom the reader is wary of from the moment he is introduced. Similarly Bill Sikes is depicted as a bully and controls Nancy, his girlfriend. Dickens use of pathetic fallacy effectively creates a negative atmosphere. An example of this is in chapter 46 where he uses the phrase: A mist hung over the river, here he creates a mysterious and creepy atmosphere by using grim and gloomy weather. Moreover, Bill and Nancys relationship is shown as one of fear and mistrust, this gives an idea to the reader what violent deeds Bill Sikes is possibly capable of in future events. As Oliver Twist was written in the Victorian era, people viewed poor people of being more capable of committing crime than those who were economically comfortable. Also the cities were viewed as dangerous and so simply from the setting of his story Dickens is creating a violent atmosphere.
Nancys death is brutal and vicious and provokes feelings of hatred in the reader. The reader feels sympathetic for Nancy as she has risked her life for young Oliver. Although as Fagin has cunningly encouraged Bill to express what he would do was someone to betray the gang, Sikes has no choice but to go through with what he vowed he would do. In the readers eyes Nancy is the heroine and the reader hopes she will emerge unscathed from the circumstances.
Dickens uses many literary techniques in order to aid his audience in understanding the plot. Pathetic fallacy is used in the build up to Nancys murder which foreshadows what is to occur. The use of phrases such as a mist hung over the river uses pathetic fallacy to create a negative atmosphere, also the word hung is used, which is dramatic irony as this is was fate awaits Sikes. Personification is also used to create a violent atmosphere: The old smoke-stained storehouses on either side, rose heavy and dull from the dense mass of roofs and gables, and frowned sternly upon water too black to reflect even their lumbering shapes this phrase shows even the building being miserable and oppressed. Another literary technique that Dickens uses is metaphors. In the phraseI am chained to my old life. I loathe and hate it now. Here the author allows