When Oliver reaches London he falls into the hands of Fagin who is likened to the devil by Dickens who upon Oliver’s first meeting is described to be wearing a red cloak and holding a fork in front of a fire, he then continues with a more frightening description, ‘whose villainous-looking and repulsive face was obscured by a quantity of matted red hair. ‘ Dickens cleverly does this as Fagin like the devil tempts people into a life of sin and crime.
Even the colours black and red suggest that it was not a nice place, that it was evil and dangerous. Something that Nancy, in the book struggles to break free from like many of the paupers in those situations. Like Oliver, Nancy has a sense of right and wrong, after playing a part of the re-capturing of Oliver she realises what she has done is wrong but it is her loyalties to Sikes and his gang that keep her from taking action sooner.
Although she does save Oliver, Dickens keeps the story realistic, when she is discovered to have alerted Mr Brownlow and Rose, Sikes clubs her to death. The one person that ever truly cared for him, who he constantly abused he eventually killed. Dickens based him on typical hardened criminals in Victorian England. Children in Victorian England were intensely used by adult gang members, as pick pockets, prostitutes and even in organised robberies. Once involved in crime there was no escape unless you were very lucky as Oliver was.
Oliver is taught to pickpocket and winds up in trouble when he is thought to have stolen from a wealthy man when in fact it wasn’t him. Mr Brownlow shows compassion and takes him into his home even though he has been wronged, this is an ideal that Dickens holds dear and tried to vent it through his writing even if he does make it comical when he ridicules the rich by comparing Oliver’s terrible illness and suffering to Mr Brownlow’s worrying for his health when he uses a slightly damp cloth.
As the future begins to look bright for Oliver you discover that Fagin is not far and he wants Oliver back as he could be a danger to them, this is an example of the never-ending crime cycle in Victorian England. Oliver is captured and forced to help Sikes in a robbery where he is shot and then left presumed dead. Dickens uses this as an example of how harsh Victorian England could be Sikes and his gang had fled when it had gone wrong leaving anything that would slow them down.