By concentrating on his irrational behaviour and his devastation at his actions, Dickens shows Sikes as the very insensitive character he is. Dickens begins the chapter by describing Fagin in terminology, that otherwise, wouldn’t relate to human behaviour. By using words and phrases such as “old lair”, “he bit his long black nails” and “fangs”, Dickens is comparing the human and non-human activity of Fagin. He is described in such a way, that the image created, is comparable to a mysterious creature authors often use to represent evil.
Dickens employs a technique where Fagin is shown as he is about to act like an animal, like when he uses the word “crouching”, as if to suggest Fagin is going to move in an unexpected way. The apparent rage of Fagin is effective at showing the life he lives, and the effects he thinks he has on others. The expression of the phrase “mortification at the overthrow of his notable scheme” demonstrates the undulating confusion Fagin has. His barrier to the outside world seems almost impenetrable. Dickens creates a volatile relationship between Fagin and Sikes by making an image of Fagin in his mind.
The fact that Dickens uses phrases such as “lips quivering so violently” and by describing his expressions specifically as “his face altered by emotions”, shows us that Fagin is unsure of his actions and the way Sikes may react. His supposed knowledge of the outside world’s systems makes Sikes somewhat confused with Fagin’s personality, because he never usually ventures outside the life they have. Dickens then goes on to secretly show Fagin as wisely hiding his hatred for Sikes, who fails to see the value of restraint for contempt.
He does this by playing Sikes’ character needlessly into the hands of Fagin. In pages 457 and 458, Fagin manipulates Sikes’s emotions by using a repetitive action: he suggests that many people such as Noah, Charley, Dodger and even Bet may have betrayed him. Fagin’s attitude suggests to Sikes, who is seen to be simple, that as the time goes on the evidence, although incorrect, is mounting. So then, when Sikes’ explosive reaction to the news that Nancy has “betrayed” him, it shows the reader his indeterminate nature and that he takes news from Fagin seriously and solely as the truth.
Dickens use of Sikes as an immature character, who believes anything the elder will tell him, shows the audience who will be likely to control future events and whether or not there is a hierarchy in place. The use of moments such as when Sikes mentions that he would “smash head as if a wagon had gone over it”, to which Fagin replies “You would? “, seems to show that Fagin already knows this, but is playing Sikes along. And if that was the reason, it would make it obvious that Fagin is a malicious character who enjoys manipulating Sikes. Also it would further the evidence that Sikes is nai??
ve even to those who are close to him. In pages 457 to 459, Sikes is seen to be easily manipulated by Fagin, as the latter tries to make Sikes realise a false story constructed by Noah. Dickens describes Fagin as a man with “devilish anticipation” as if Fagin is extremely aware of his past actions and their consequences; but also the fact that the word ‘anticipation’ denotes that Fagin is keen to see the outcome. Fagin’s role as the leader of the group creates a ‘pecking order’, so it is somewhat incredulous if a member, in this case Sikes, were not to believe the rank above them.
Dickens shows that Sikes knows this and makes the character acknowledge that he must no impede the control of Fagin. He makes Fagin use Noah as a ‘witness’ to the events, and makes it as if Noah has seen the events so then they must be true. Dickens doesn’t let Sikes speak during the revelation and so the audience is left wondering what is ‘mulling over’ in Sikes’mind. The instability of his character lets the reader; ironically, predict the future actions of Sikes. It also produces a response from the audience and helps them to forecast that Nancy may be in terrible danger.