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In ‘Oliver Twist’ Bill Sykes brings terror to the novel, which adds to the suspense and makes you want to read on. Bill Sykes is brutal which you soon realise when he delights in beating his dog or girlfriend, Nancy. Many novels of this time were full of such characters and Dickens, a playwright and an actor as well as a novelist, knew then well. The orphan Oliver Twist escapes from the workhouse by running away to London.
Oliver is introduced to Fagin who trains him to be a thief and he is then taken on a burglary with Sykes, Oliver recovers from being shot in the burglary and Nancy nurses Sykes back to full health. Sykes kills Nancy, which has a terrible effect on him, and he later kills himself. Bill Sykes brings the real terror to the novel but he is also extremely unpredictable. Rarely he can seem quite reasonable and occasionally shows kindness to his dog and girlfriends, but generally he keeps everyone in fear of what he is going to do next.
We see evidence of this when Fagin says, “You won’t be too violent Bill? ” This statement shows that they have no trust in him. Bill Sykes also has a problem with alcohol, he drinks far too much, and this probably accounts for some of his unpredictable behaviour. We see evidence of his drinking problem when he says, “… to prevent my standing treat for a pint of so…. ” This shows that he thinks that he thinks drinking is a treat and does not himself think that he has a drinking problem. Bill Sykes us the archetypal Victorian villain.
To be a real villain Sykes must show no compassion for anyone and we see that on many occasions. When Nancy has nursed him back to health, staying up for nights looking after him, he turns on her the moment he wakes up. This shows he is very ungrateful for any sympathy given to him. “Illness had not improved Mr Sykes’ temper, for as the girl raised him up and led him to a chair, he struck her …. ” He is also quite ready to send Nancy out to work and possibly profit from what she does. From all of this we can gather further evidence that he is ungrateful for any help he received.
Sykes treats his dog very badly, it receives regular kicks and is threatened constantly. At one time when he was going to escape he contemplates killing, “The dog, though. If any descriptions of him were out, it would not be forgotten that the dog was missing. ” Sykes is a typical bully who shows no remorse for what he does to others. We see evidence of this when he takes Oliver on the burglary with him and does not care whether Oliver gets injured. Sykes has no respect for Fagin and you can tell this by the way he speaks to him.
You can see Fagin is afraid of him but Fagin does like to have the last word. If Sykes does not get his own way he will turn to violence as we see with the arguments over Oliver, “… looking sternly at him, and ostentatiously passing a pistol into a more convenient pocket. “That’s lucky for one of us. ” This shows again Sykes is unpredictable and a bully and brings more tension. When Bill Sykes sees Fagin, Fagin changes the tone of his voice at once. Fagin is obviously afraid of the physical strength of Sykes but Sykes is still wary of Fagin.