The presentation of Bill Sikes as a villain, in the original text of Oliver Twist and its film adaptation, is very different, with Sikes being portrayed as a more ruthless and remorseless character in the original text. These characteristics of Sikes being a villain are expressed through the way he is presented by Charles Dickens, through the use of language and his various interactions with other characters present in the scene. In the text version of the scene, Sikes is far more intimidating and he achieves this by a lack of speech and physical dominance. On the other hand, the film adaptation focuses more on the “human” side of Sikes and how, through the use of digital devices, is presented to be a more regretful and a far less villainous character.
In both the book “Oliver Twist” and it’s film adaptation, the interaction that Bill Sikes has with the other characters presents him as a villain, but more so in the extract from the book. Firstly, in the extract of the book, in a conversation with Bill Sikes, Fagin tries to convince Sikes not be so violent when “beating” Nancy. When talking to Fagin, Sikes’ response is harsh and asserts his dominance: “Hell’s fire!” is one particular example where his aggressive use of words is expressed. In addition. Sikes uses short, command like phrases to prove he is the leader and that people will consequently obey him. “Let me out….Let me out I say”. His use of language creates a semantic field of violence and aggression =. However, in the film adaptation of Oliver Twist, Sikes does not speak at all, even though Fagin tells him to be “none too savage”. This lack of speech from Sikes shows that, once again, he is the dominant figure, and is furthermore continued in his interactions with Nancy. In the film adaptation, Sikes does not mutter a single word, until after beating Nancy, and consequently killing her. The silence that exists from Sikes implies that he has no respect for Nancy, and that instead of using words, he results to violence. Nevertheless, although Sikes does not speak, he still has the overall upper hand and asserts this through the physical force that he exerts upon Nancy. He grabs her by the head and despite Nancy’s pleading, she is helpless to Sikes’ blows to her head. This leads onto the point that Nancy does not get a fair chance to argue or to reason with Sikes. She manages to only string a few sentences together, whilst constantly repeating the words “I kept you out, Bill.” In the film adaptation, Nancy’s voice quivers cowardly and it is evident that she knows that Sikes will kill her cold-bloodedly. This is different to the original text where Nancy pleads in much longer speeches: “…stop before you spill my blood! I have been true to you upon my guilty soul I have!” In the original extract from Oliver Twist, Sikes has more to say and although this takes away his presentation as a villain, when he does speak, he does so with hostile and aggressive words. He labels Nancy a “…she devil!” and this concludes the fact that he is the more dominant between the two. After eventually killing Nancy, Sikes is presented by the written extract as being remorseless and a villain. Once Nancy was ruthlessly killed by Sikes, he does not utter a single word and does not seem to feel any sort of regret; instead, Sikes is described to have “seized a heavy club and struck her [Nancy] down”. This sort of action can be interpreted as barbaric and so in the original extract, Sikes is seen to be a far more villainous character, through the lack of emotion he has when interacting with Nancy. In contrast, the film adaptation of Oliver Twist shows that Sikes’ interaction with Nancy is far less villainous and perhaps it can be argued that the murder was spontaneous. Following the killing of Nancy, Sikes talks to the “dead” Nancy as though she is still alive, telling her to “Get up” and that “You’re [Nancy] all right…” These orders from Sikes show that he possesses a more compassionate personality compared to the original text. Although he is aware that Nancy is dead, he continues to speak and tries reassuring himself that all is well, even though it is quite clearly the contrary. This delayed reactions shows that he has far more regret about killing Nancy compared to the text where he has a greater intent to kill in cold bloodedness.
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The extract from Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, taken from the 47th chapter, consists of not only in the original text, but also in the film adaptation, various devices used from the author’s and or filmmaker’s craft, in the respective pieces of work. Dickens and the filmmakers from the BBC film adaptation have used different craft’s both from the extract of the text and film adaptation, some of which are similar and some which are different. Such devices have been used to enhance the overall effect of the film and text, to aid with the portrayal and presentation of the character of Bill Sikes. In the original text, Dickens presents Sikes using certain devices, including how Nancy is pleading to Sikes, and also how Dickens chooses to give Sikes very few words to say, during the scene of Nancy’s death. The devices used in the film include the use of various camera angles and also the use and absence of music, these are the two key devices used in the film adaptation. In terms of the author’s craft and the filmmaker’s craft, the main similarity is the character of Bill Sikes a limited amount of lines to say during both extracts. This device is important as it helps with the presentation of Bill Sikes, as it emphasises the different actions which he carries out when killing Nancy, it suggests how determined he is on expressing his anger and asserting his authority. One of the last lines which Sikes says to Nancy is “You know you she-devil”, this illustrates his anger and through the little words which he says, what Sikes does say is of importance, because it is spoken in such a concise manner. Dickens also presents in this extract, as Sikes walks into the room where Nancy is, Nancy who appears to be in a situation where, she is pleading him to spare her life. She says to Sikes “Then spare my life…” which implies how desperate she is, and how Sikes has the upper hand in this situation, in the text. The use of the word “cried” from the original extract further suggests the urgency in her voice as she tries to justify her actions to Sikes, who has already gone in to the room, with the intent to kill Nancy. Both the use of few lines and the pleading of Nancy are replicated somewhat in the film adaptation; however Nancy does not have the opportunity to explain and justify her actions in the film adaptation. The film uses various camera angles as a device, for example a low angle shot for Sikes, to make him appear more powerful in the situation, and the high angle shot for Nancy, suggesting she is vulnerable and weak. There is a point of view shot, immediately after Sikes has realised he has killed Nancy to suggest the realisation of his own actions, and it helps to see what has happened from the character’s viewpoint. The use of music is another device within the film adaptation used to present the character of Bill Sikes, which can clearly not be included in the original text. There is no initial audio, as the absence of music, the silence, suggests the great anger which Sikes is feeling. The music is mainly diegetic, quite silent, as it includes sounds of breathing and movement and so on. During the period after Nancy is killed, soft music is played, with no lyrics to suggest it is quite sad, and also implying there is very little to say as Nancy has been killed. Therefore there have been a number of devices which have been used with the character of Bill Sikes in ‘Oliver Twist’, some which have been included in both the original text and film adaptation, such as the choice of giving a small number of lines to Sikes. However there have been some devices, from the filmmaker’s craft, which can only be used in a film, which include the camera angles and music.
Bill Sikes is presented as a villain in Chapter 47 when Bill kills Nancy and in the BBC adaptation of the book. In the chapter Bill Sikes kills Nancy ruthlessly after learning that she has told the police about his pick pocketing scheme. The author, Charles Dickens, presents Bill Sikes as “a robber”, “a housebreaker” and “a murderer”. These terms reflect on Bill Sikes’s villainy in the book as these terms are associated with bad crime and criminals. In the chapter when Bill Sikes learns of Nancy’s deeds he storms off to meet her however, he completely ignores Fagin’s shouts telling Bill Sikes to be “not to savage” however Bill completely ignores this and goes on to kill Nancy. As Bill Sikes is killing Nancy in the book he listens to her pleading and her cries for mercy as she begs for her life. She surrenders to Bill Sikes with the symbol of the white tissue and starts to pray and cry however, Bill Sikes completely ignores them and shows no mercy and kills her with three blows to the head. It takes Bill Sikes three blows because rather than the two in the film because he is far more composed and he has come into the house with the intention to kill so he does it with no extra force or effort however in the film adaptation it takes Bill Sikes only two blows because he is far more furious and he came in why the intention to inflict pain so he kills her in two hits on the head. In the film adaptation Bill Sikes is portrayed to be less villainous as he shows regret at the end however his silence makes him more of a villain as people know what’s coming just the way Nancy knew. As Bill Sikes entered the room with Nancy after he heard what Artful Dodger had he locked the door first and grabbed Nancy by the head. Nancy started to beg for her life and she started to cry however Bill Sikes was not hesitant in picking up the baton and killing her. During this whole time he was silent and all you could hear was Nancy’s begging and screaming. After the murder Bill Sikes says his first words which are “Get up”. These words are said in a remorseless and gruff tone as to show no sympathy for her. After a few moments when there has been no movement from Nancy Bill Sikes starts to feel worried. Fear starts to creep in to his voice as his intonation changes and he realises that Nancy is dead. He feels upset and this can be seen by his facial reactions in the film adaptation and then the non-diegetic sympathetic music starts to play. Bill Sikes is presented as a villain in both the novel and the film adaptation however in the film he is regretting what he has done to Nancy which makes him less of a villain as there is a sense of guilt and remorse.
In Oliver Twist, the novel, Dickens uses a variety of language techniques to show how villainous Bill Sikes is. The vocabulary he uses is course and elementary. That, with the use of short, sharp sentences gives a fierce thuggish effect. In the film, Bill Sikes is calm in his words however with brutal with his actions. In the film adaptation he is also presented with a delicate, more human side rather than being pot rayed as a monster all the time, like in the novel. This is helped with the non-diegetic sound, to help create and eerie and tense atmosphere. In the novel, Dickens describes him as a 'Robber, Housekeeper' these negative words add to his person as wanting to be the alpha-male. The language Sikes uses is not thought out properly. He says whatever comes into his head and this is why he is always quick to reply. In the film, even though Nancy explains herself, he hits her, and only after hitting her he realises what he has done.
In conclusion, the way that Bill Sikes is presented as a villain in both the original novel by Charles Dickens and the BBC film adaptation are quite different. The villainy and the traits of Bill Sikes are portrayed by the language used by Charles Dickens which is short and sharp for fast paced action. The interactions of Bill Sikes with the other characters in the scene and chapter in which Bill Sikes completely ignores Fagin’s warnings and is very brutal to Nancy. Furthermore his villainy is also enhanced by the author’s and the film maker’s craft and use of various devices such as non-diegetic music and how Bill Sikes is called various names in the novel and finally his presentation of a villain is also based upon how he treats Nancy and how he reacts to his surroundings. In the novel he is presented to far more villainous than he is in the BBC film adaptation as in the adaptation there is remorse and regret over Nancy’s death.