As part of my GCSE coursework, I have read two novels written by Charles Dickens. The first novel is ‘Oliver Twist’, from, whwhich I will look at a villain called Bill Sikes who is a thief, a housebreaker, a murderer and one of Ddickens’ most menacing characters. I will look at how Dickens characterises him as a villain. s makes him a villain. The second book I read was ‘Great Expectations’, infrom which I will look at another villain called Magwitch who bullies a young boy named Pip into helping him q.
escaping from prison. I will also look at how Dickens characterises himmakes him as a villain..
I will then compare Bboth characters will then be compared and contrasted in my study. . The first person I will look at is Bill Sikes who is a murderer, a thief, a housebreaker, a bully and is part of Fagan’s gang. Before we meet Sikes, Dickens dDescribes his environment. Firstly it is described as an ‘obscure parlour of a low public house’, a ‘dark and gloomy den’, ‘in the filthiest part of Little Saffron Hill’ and ‘where no ray of sun ever shone in the summer’.
Adjectives such as obscure, low, dark gloomy and filthiest are all negative and suggest to me a very unpleasant and rough environment.
The place being described as ‘where no ray of sun ever shone in the summer’, suggests to me further of the place’s depravity and that the public house is set in a back ally. The room Sikes is situated in is called a ‘Den’, A den is a place where animals usually live, so it suggests to me that this is an inhuman place, not suitable for a persons habitation. Over all I can say that the atmosphere is excessively bleak and miserable, the setting is used to reflect character and to create atmosphere suggestingand Sikes is in part, athe product of his own environment.
Sikes is said to have been ‘brooding’, this suggests that Sikes had been in deep thought, scheming and plotting evil things. Sikes is described as ‘strongly impregnated with the smell of liquor’, this suggests to me that he we was highly intoxicated and the result, would mean that he would be grumpy, and irrational. He wares ‘a velvet coat, drab shorts, half-boots and stockings. As you can see his clothing is very drabmonotonous and this suggests to the reader the obscure and sinister nature of Sikes and the world he inhabits. ity Sikes of which Sikes can possess.
Sikes is described as ‘even by that dim light, no inexperienced agent of police would have hesitated for one instant as Mr. William Sikes’. This suggests to the reader that Sikes is well known by the police and is obviously a common criminal. Sikes’ dog is described as being ‘red-eyed’. This is symbolic of depression and anger and many other negative emotions, so it is apparent that the dog is symbolic to the negativity in Sikes’ environment and is also a product of bad environment may be symbolic that the dog is symbolic of the harsh environment.
The dog sits at his mastersmaster’s feet, this shows the relationship between the dog and his master as being close and intermit and proves Sikes’ ownership of the animal. Later the ‘unoffending’ dog is attacked and by Sikes, this shows that Sikes is very volatile, unpredictable, unstable and dangerous because he attacks his dog for no cause and acts very spontaneously with his aggressiveness. After the attacking, the dog avenges his attack it, by attacking Sikes’ half-boots. This shows that the dog has a bad temper and has a lot in common with his master.
This eventually leads to a fight and Sikes’ attempted murder of the dog. This shows how malevolentsatanic Sikes’ can be. Sikes is a very aggressive man in his language, he ‘blasphemes’ and ‘curses’, ‘thrusts’ and ‘swears’ This type of language is rather unpleasant, shows negative emotions to a reader. This sort of dictionspeech gives a sense of violence to the reader. When Sikes speaks to his dog he says ‘Keep quiet, you warmint! Keep quiet! ‘ Here he commands and insults, so it shows that he is violent when he talks. We know this because Dickens has used exclamation marks to show that he was talking in anger.
This can also be seen when he talks to Fagan for example ‘you white-livered thief! ‘ This shows the anger in the voice with the use of insults and exclamatoryion phrases. marks. Sikes also seeksspeaks to Fagian with a ‘fierce gesture’gesture’; this adds to Sikes’ sinister character because it suggests that again Sikes is angry and violent with his oral expression. Sikes’ often ‘growled’, had a ‘fierce sneer’ and speaks ‘savage like’. This further makes him look obnoxious and unhappy. These details present him as brutal, animalistic and primitive. Sikes speaks with the ‘harshest key of a very harsh voice’.
This suggests that he is very unpleasant when he usually speaks. Therefore I would say that the way in which Sikes’ speaks shows that cruelty and ill-intent of his character. Thus from this extract we are given the impression that Sikes is incredibly evil, menacing, he is unhappy, intimidating, ferocious and volatile. This impression is reinforced later in the novel in which we look at Sikes killing his prostitute lover Nancy and the events leading up to it. It begins with Noah, repeating what he told Fagin to Sikes. Fagin ‘cries’, and says ‘Tell him that, tell him that.