Charley Bates: Character Analysis in Oliver Twist

Also Read

Next to Artful Dodger

      Among the members of Fagin's group of pick-pockets and thieves Charley Bates is next to Artful Dodger in importance. He usually accompanies Artful Dodger in his criminal activities. In fact these two boys are presented as enjoying picking pockets. They also introduce innocent paupers and miserable boys to Fagin in order to make them involved in crime. Oliver is told to follow these two boys as his models. Fagin says that if Oliver follows them sincerely, he will go very high.

His Cheerful Disposition

      Charley Bates is a mirthful and jovial boy. Though Fagin is a kind of stern man who ill-treats the boys yet Charley Bates' cheerful disposition helps a lot to relieve the gloominess of Fagin's world. This is the remarkable discriminating point between Artful Dodger and Charley Bates. Dodger is not as jovial and cheerful as Bates is. It is informed by the novelist that Bates laughs to the extent of losing his balance and falls down to the floor. Dickens says that he 'laid himself flat on the floor, and kicked convulsively, in an ecstasy of facetious joy.' In chapter (9) he laughs heartily over the innocence and ignorance of Oliver when he seriously makes promise that he will try to follow them because it seems to him that Bates and Dodger are involved in any honest work. On one occasion Charley Bates comments on Sikes' dog in a witty manner that his dog is "an out-and-out Christian."

      Charley Bates takes much pleasure in playing cribbage and whist also. When Chitling has lost his money to Dodger in whist, Fagin says that if Chitling wants to defeat Dodger, he should get up very early in the morning. Thereupon Bates says that he (Chilling) should not only ' get up very early in the morning but he has to put on his boots overnight and have a telescope at each eye and an opera glass between his shoulders. Such kind of jovial figure Charley is.

Bate's Funny against Sikes

      When Sikes comes to take shelter in the den of Toby Crackit, Bates is already there. As he sees Sikes, he pounces upon him as if to kill him. He is enraged by Sikes' murder of Nancy. He does not feel discouraged by the fact that Sikes is strong-built and stronger than him. Soon, he is overpowered by Sikes who locks him into a room but Bates does not stop his protest, he keeps on shouting to the crowd to capture the murderer if he tries to escape. It is only his shout that compelled Sikes to escape in hurry and it causes his death.

The Significant Role of Charley Bates

      The paramount theme of the novel is criminality and Charley Bates contributes significantly in the development of this theme. He can be called an indispensable subsidiary character. He is a skillful pickpocket, who goes with Artful Dodger when Fagin asks them to earn and Oliver is sent to observe the technique of picking pockets.

His Significant Transformation

      It is only Charley Bates in the group of Fagin who escapes the bad results of crimes. He transforms himself to an honest life. In the last chapter of the novel Dickens writes that Charley Bates "struggled hard and suffered much, for sometime; but, having a contented disposition and a good purpose, succeeded in the end; and, from being a farmer's drudge, and a carrier's lad, he is now the merriest young grazier in all Northamptonshire."

Previous Post Next Post