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Oliver Twist

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Introduction

Oliver Twist What is the importance of the character of Nancy? Charles Dickens' classic novel Oliver Twist was written in the 19th century it provides a valuable insight towards the life of the British during the Victorian times. Through the character of Nancy, Dickens is able to advance the plot and send out a social message. She is a useful contrast against the other character because there is no one like her. Her character is important because in the Victorian times there was a huge divide between men and women. Women did not have as much say as men. They were just expected to serve the men. In the novel Nancy does not serve the men she does what she has to do to survive. We are first introduced to Nancy in chapter 9 but our view of her is coloured by the innocence of Oliver; he believes them to be 'very nice girls'. Nancy and her friend's demeanour are described with a great deal of ambiguous adjectives such as 'free and agreeable' which could mean two things, free spirited or free sexually. ...read more.

Middle

The reader is encouraged to hope that Oliver's future is not like Nancy's although they had a similar up bringing, as well as allowing the reader to see Nancy as someone who once shared the innocence of a child like Oliver. Importantly in chapter 16 the reader learns that Nancy knows that her 'work' is wrong and she does not enjoy it. This sets her aside from Bill and Fagin because she a strong moral conscience whereas the others don't. Chapter 16 is important in the book because in the chapter the reader learns that Nancy is mental and physical victim of Bill. Her unhappiness with her situation is shown when she says to Fagin 'I thieved for you when I was a child not half his age, and I've thieved for you ever since, don't you know it...It is my living. And you're the wretch that drove me to them long ago, and that'll keep me there, day and night, day and night, DAY AND NIGHT' The reader feels sympathy for such women of the Victorian times because such a brutal atmosphere was part of everyday life. ...read more.

Conclusion

Nancy has gone from being someone who is confident, strong willed and a survivor to a weak and broken person by the end of the novel. This tells the reader that the environment she is living is a down bringing and destructive one, as it calls the degeneration of a character as powerful and strong as Nancy. As Nancy renounces her sins and become more pure whereas Fagin has become more demonic, as illustrated by the wording 'black finger nails' and 'fangs'. Undoubtedly Nancy should be saved because she altruistic, she has repented all her sins and she trying to make the lives of the people around her (Oliver) better. In conclusion I think that Nancy is an important character because she represents the good amongst evil, she is needed for satisfactory plot development and she highlights Dickens social message of treating the poor better. Nancy is a complex character and integral to the story as without her Oliver could not have his happy ending. She is a character constantly in transition, from shady to angelic. ...read more.

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