Dickens begins this chapter by talking about Fagin in non-human terms that suggest he is frightening and dangerous. Words like “lair,” “phantom,” and “fangs” describe the Fagin’s house and his physical appearance. This isn’t the first use of animal imagery to suggest Fagin is scary and dangerous in Oliver Twist. Fagin has been described before as a reptile and a predator. Dickens has used animal imagery to express a sense of evil. Dickens is suggesting that Fagin is about to act like an animal and is his need for revenge a strictly human evil?
This remark by Charley Dickens, showing Oliver’s purity, further shows us that Fagin is willing to corrupt an innocent soul for the sake of his greed, as we find out later on that he was to corrupt the boy for money.
He tries to make Oliver as one of his boys but in the end he does not succeed. Fagin seeks to corrupt even the innocent, which makes him almost evil.
Making Fagin a Jew is a metaphor as Fagin himself is a recurring symbol for the devil. Several times Dickens refers to him with known devil names or symbols. He talks of Fagin with flaming red hair and a beard, along with a three-pronged roasting fork, which all are symbols.
Before he is to die, he refuses to pray for himself and his being a Jew has a very evil connotation. He is greedy and mean, trying to pull Oliver and others into his web of evil.
After Noah delivers his report, Fagin is furious with Nancy. When Sikes enters, carrying the loot from his night’s work, Fagin un-nerves him by staring fixedly, speechless and twitching with emotion. The old man tells Sikes his story, masterfully rousing Sikes to a pitch of rage at the hint that the gang has been betrayed. Deliberately increasing the tension, Fagin wakes Claypole to make him tell Sikes about Nancy.
WITH ALL OF THE SYMBOLISM AND MORAL ISSUES REPRESENTED IN OLIVER TWIST, ALL SEEM TO COME FROM REAL EVENTS FROM THE LIFE OF ITS AUTHOR, CHARLES DICKENS. THE NOVELS CHARACTER, OLIVER, IS A GOOD PERSON AT HEART SURROUNDED BY THE FILTH OF THE LONDON STREETS. FILTH THAT DICKENS MIGHT HAVE DEALT WITH IN HIS EVERYDAY LIFE. BUT THROUGH MORALS AND MERE CHANCE OLIVER BECOMES A LIVING SYMBOL. THROUGHOUT HIS LIFETIME, DICKENS APPEARED TO HAVE ACQUIRED A FONDNESS FOR “THE BLEAK, THE SORDID, AND THE AUSTERE. MOST OF OLIVER TWIST, FOR EXAMPLE, TAKES PLACE IN LONDON’S LOWEST SLUMS.
THE CITY IS DESCRIBED AS A MAZE WHICH INVOLVES A “MYSTERY OF DARKNESS, ANONYMITY, AND PERIL. ” MANY OF THE SETTINGS, SUCH AS THE PICKPOCKET’S HIDEOUT, THE SURROUNDING STREETS, AND THE BARS, ARE ALSO DESCRIBED AS DARK, GLOOMY, AND BLAND. EVEN WHILE HIS LIFE WAS IN DANGER WHILE IN THE HANDS OF FAGIN AND BILL SIKES, TWO SCHEMING PICKPOCKETS, HE REFUSED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE STEALING WHICH HE SO GREATLY OPPOSED. ALL OLIVER REALLY LONGED FOR WAS TO ESCAPE FROM HARSH LIVING CONDITIONS AND EVIL SURROUNDINGS WHICH HE HAD GROWN UP IN. HOWEVER, NO MATTER HOW TEMPTING THE EVIL MAY HAVE BEEN, OLIVER STOOD BY HIS BELIEFS.
UNFORTUNATELY, MANY CRITICS HAVE FOUND IT HARD TO BELIEVE THAT A BOY SUCH AS OLIVER TWIST COULD REMAIN SO INNOCENT, PURE, AND WELL SPOKEN GIVEN THE LONG PERIOD OF TIME IN WHICH HE WAS SURROUNDED BY EVIL AND INJUSTICES. FAGIN THE HEAD OF A GROUP OF YOUNG THIEVES SPENDS MOST OF HIS TIME TRYING TO “DEMORALIZE AND CORRUPT OLIVER AND PREVENT HIM FROM EVER COMING INTO HIS INHERITANCE. ” HE IS SEEN AS AN ESCAPE FROM ALL PREVIOUS MISERY. HE ALSO HELPS OLIVER TO EASE ANY FEARS ABOUT STARVATION AND LONELINESS. FAGIN IS A MASTER CRIMINAL, WHOSE SPECIALTY IS FENANG (SELLING STOLEN PROPERTY).
HE EMPLOYS A GANG OF THIEVES AND IS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR NEW RECRUITS. HE IS A MAN OF CONSIDERABLE INTELLIGENCE, THOUGH CORRUPTED BY HIS SELF-INTEREST. HIS CONSCIENCE BOTHERS HIM AFTER HE IS CONDEMNED TO HANG. HE DOES HAVE A CYNICAL SENSE OF HUMOUR AND A MYSTERIOUS ABILITY TO UNDERSTAND PEOPLE. HE’S A VERY OLD SHRIVELLED JEW, WHOSE VILLAINOUS LOOKING REPULSIVE FACE WAS OBSCURED BY A QUANTITY OF MATTED RED HAIR. Fagin and his gang are of like qualities, all being thieves and gangsters, with whom poor Oliver unwittingly falls in with. Oliver, being a kind and innocent soul, is beguiled by Fagin and his boys into joining them for time.
He uses double talk to keep his true motives from others. BILL SIKES IS A BULLY, A ROBBER AND A MURDERER. HE IS AN ALLY OF FAGIN. FAGIN PLANS THE CRIMES AND SIKES CARRIES THEM OUT. SIKE’S EVIL IS SO FRIGHTENING BECAUSE IT IS SO PHYSICAL. HE IS COMPARES TO A BEAST. NANCY IS THE HAPLESS PRODUCT OF THE SLUMS, THE PUPIL OF FAGIN, AND THE ABUSED MISTRESS OF SIKES. ALTHOUGH SHE IS A PROSTITUTE AND AN ACCOMPLICE OF CROOKS, SHE HAS THE INSTINCTS OF A GOOD PERSON. SHE IS PART OF A FEW OF THE MOST MEMORABLE SCENES (WHEN SHE VISITS FAGIN’S DEN, WHEN SHE WAITS FOR BILL TO COME HOME OR WHEN SHE MEETS WITH ROSE MAYLIE AND BROWNLOW TO HELP SAVE OLIVER).