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Oliver Twist

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How does Dickens use language in Chapter 50 of 'Oliver Twist' to show the death of Bill Sikes? The novel 'Oliver Twist' was not written as one book as it is now. It was written in a series of short pieces. The stories were published monthly in 'Bentley's Miscellany' and each episode was 9,000 words long. That is one of the reasons why some chapters have characters in them that do not appear in the rest of the story. The novel was written in serial form with cliffhangers at the end of every chapter and edited by Dickens himself. The plot of Chapter 50 is about the chasing of Sikes, his attempt to escape and then his death. Dickens uses lots of descriptive language to describe the death of Sikes. He makes you aware of his panic as he looks for a way to escape and you know something is going to happen once Sikes puts the rope over his head, 'At the very instant when he brought the loop over his head previous to slipping it beneath his arm-pits ...'. You can sense his terror as he has a flashback and sees Nancy's eyes. Dickens refers to the speed of an arrow as to how fast the rope tightened around Bill's neck, 'tight as a bow string, and swift as the arrow speeds'. This is because 'tight as a bow string' (the pulling back of the bow string to make it taut before firing an arrow) ...read more.


'I wish, ...that you had picked out some other crib when the two old ones got too warm, and had not come here, ...'. Crackit is the one who lets Sikes into the house. He sees him from the window after someone knocks on the door (they are expecting Bates) and decides that he needs to be let in. When Sikes turns up at Crackit's 'crib', he looks dishevelled. 'Blanched face, sunken eyes, hollow cheeks, beard of three days' growth, wasted flesh, short thick breath;' His face is pale, no colour, his eyes have dark circles around them, his face is thin and drawn, he has not shaved for three days, he looks like he hasn't eaten and is possibly dehydrated. He looks like a ghost. It shows that he has been on the run for a while and hasn't slept. The words Dickens has used gives you a stronger and more powerful image of Sikes' appearance. Charley Bates is a young boy and he arrives at Crackit's house after Sikes but is annoyed that Crackit hadn't told him that Sikes was there. ''Toby,' said the boy, falling back, as Sikes turned towards him, 'why didn't you tell me this, down stairs?''. Sikes needs to win Bates over '... the wretched man was willing to propitiate even this lad.' but Bates stands up to Sikes (and seems to make him feel guilty '..., but Sikes' eyes sunk gradually to the ground.'). Bates appears not to be afraid of Sikes. ...read more.


from this aperture, he had never ceased to call on those without, to guard the back; ...' which means that Bates, through a small, narrow opening, had not stopped shouting to the crowd to get them to go to the back of the house as Sikes tries to escape. Poor Bulls Eye (who was aware of Sikes' death) had been hiding, and was running backwards and forwards along the edge of the roof. In his misery, he prepares to jump over to Sikes. Bulls Eye dives out to reach Sikes' shoulders but he misses and plummets to his death '... and striking his head against the stone, dashed out his brains'. Flash language is used instead of swearing so as not to offend the middle classes. This is because the story was published every month and if it had swearing in, it would not have been suitable for all audiences. Although there is no swearing in the story, you still get the idea of the strength of feeling in what people say. The purpose of this Chapter is that Dickens needs to finish the story and he rounds everybody up to show how they are feeling and how they are affected by what has happened. He kills off the villain as punishment for his crime and shows how such a clever, cunning thief could die so clumsily. Dickens may have chosen to have Sikes kill himself (although it was an accident) because then the responsibility of his death wouldn't have fallen to anyone else. So he gets rid of Sikes, and nobody else is to blame. ?? ?? ?? ?? Jack Aisthorpe 10B ...read more.

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