Oliver Twist is one of Dickens’ early novels and one of his best loved. It has what you would expect from him: memorable characters, evocative descriptions, melodrama, a plot that relies on completely incredible coincidences. Dickens is the master of descriptive narrative and he conjures a grim and compelling view of Victorian London.
His over view of London is created through his own experience of growing up and experiencing the ‘badlands’ and the derelict surroundings put in front of him as a child and through his youth, in this novel he doesn’t hold back any knowledge about London or any details either, a true opinion which has made this novel so successful.
Introduction How does dickens use language to show the death of Bill Sikes in Chapter 50 of Oliver Twist. What this title is asking me to do is to pick evidence out of the text to describe how Charles Dickens builds up tension and depicts and creates characters in Chapter 50.
It is simple to just look at the death of Bill Sikes as an accident and a coincidence, but there is an enormous amount more that Charles Dickens has done in this chapter. Dickens ability to create an image in the readers head is outstanding, at the start of the chapter Dickens describes Jacobs Island, a small part of London where the story is basically set, he uses long descriptive sentences with superlatives such as blackest, dirtiest, filthiest, strangest, roughest, poorest, cheapest and coarsest, all of these words on the same page and even most in the same paragraph, he uses these words to put across his opinion of the area, the ‘est.
‘ words are the worst of the worst you can describe something as. He is describing the derelict ness and the poverty of Jacobs Island in this time by also describing the jobs and even the unemployment of the area, jobs such as ballast heavers, coal whippers and brazen women, all of these jobs are hard labouring jobs.
Dickens also creates a wide range of characters that make you as a reader know them, Dickens splits these characters apart by giving them their own sense of speech on a page, different language, in a sort of ‘slang’, strong language of criminal underclass which is used in great effect later explained. Again Dickens reflects on the social difficulties and background of London itself in the 1830’s, London was swarmed with poverty, diseases, crime, different class’s of people, orphanages, overall a very commercial but saddened city.
Dickens ability to structure a chapter is also another point to look at, the way he progress’s from the description of Jacobs Island, he goes on to describe the river Thames, and then goes on to describe houses, windows, buckets, utensils, and then warehouses, which then develops into one house in particular where the criminals are uncovered which is Toby Crackits room and then to the old chimney which goes on to build more tension and more suspense and thus making the reader want to read on and on to uncover what entertainment lies ahead.
Charles Dickens doesn’t only have descriptive prestige in this book, he is very well known for his narrative devices, his dramatic use of the dog Bull’s Eye, that is so ‘in love’ with his owner (Sikes) so to speak really captivates the audience in a sense that you feel sorry for this dog, in the end Sikes’s dog comes back to haunt him as his dog leads the mob to him and that leads on to his death.
Which also bring the mob, which is another great example of Dickens’s dramatic narrative devices, the mob are described as a huge crowd all after one man, Bill Sikes, every man or woman in London seems to be chasing Bill Sikes and after his head in the way Dickens describes them, hundreds of angry, bloodthirsty citizens of London, in fact there were so many of them as he describes they got themselves in grave danger, falling over each other and nearly crushing each other.
Before the mob is introduced there is a coming together of little Charley Bates and Bill Sikes which leads to the mob coming, Charley stands up to bates and a fight breaks out, the description of the fight is outstanding, ‘Pouring out the cries, and accompanying them with violent gesticulation, the boy actually threw himself, single-handed, upon the strong man, and in the intensity of his energy and the suddenness of his surprise, brought him heavily to the ground’. These words give you a sense of tension and happiness as Charley attacks the murderer, but also leaves you with anxiety as to whether Charley has a chance.