Murder of Nancy & Flight of Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist

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      The murder of Nancy by Bill Sikes is most famous scene of Oliver Twist. Dickens himself liked it a lot. Whenever public invited him to read the extracts of his novel, he was often requested to read the passage concerning Nancy's murder. As Dickens proceeded, the listeners became spellbound. Though this passage is no more than the live elaboration of horror and thrill yet Dickens' mastery in delineating it ranks this scene upmost among all the magnetic scenes of Dickens novels. When Nancy goes to meet Rose Maylie and Mr. Brownlow on London Bridge she gets the intuition of death an illusion of coffins. From here the reader starts anticipating the tragic end of Nancy that can take place any time. Noah Claypole has been set by Fagin to spy upon the activities of Nancy. Noah comes to Fagin and reports him that Nancy has betrayed their group. Now Fagin's mind starts working on how to get rid of Nancy. His devil mind contrives' a plan to kill Nancy through the hands of whom she is deeply in love with. When Sikes comes to visit him at his den, Fagin instigates him against Nancy. He first mentions the name of Noah Claypole, then Dodger, Charley Bates and even himself, then after he asks him what will be his reaction, if anyone among them would betray him. Sikes replies that he would grind the skull of the man under the iron heel of his boot into so many grains as there are hairs upon the head. When Fagin becomes confident that Sikes is enough enraged, he asks Noah about what he has seen and heard on the London Bridge. On hearing Noah’s account of Nancy and Mr. Brownlows meeting and her betrayal, Sikes' furry crosses all the limits and he rushes to approach Nancy.

      When he arrives, he finds Nancy sleeping but he awakes her with a jerk. She gets terrified to see him in such a furious mood. Sikes holds her by the head and drags her into the middle of his room. Then he places his hand firmly upon her mouth. Nancy struggles to liberate herself. She begs to listen her and spare her life but Sikes has remained utterly unaffected. He is about to shoot Nancy but feels afraid of immediate search by police, he strikes her twice with all his strength. Nancy staggers and falls down. Her eyes and face is smeared in blood, that is coming out of a gash on her forehead. She tries her best to raise on her knees and takes out a white handkerchief from her bosom, that she had received from Rose Maylie on asking for some token of remembrance. Then she holds that up in her folded handsome, she murmurs a prayer for mercy to her God and then faints. Sikes strikes her again and again in rage and terror. He throws a rug over her body but still feels the staring eyes of Nancy. Then he lights a fire in order to destroy the club with which he had killed her. He clears himself and rubs his cloth but fails to clean the blood spots. So, he cuts out those parts. Everywhere, blood stains can be seen in the room. Even dogs feet are stained with blood.

      Sikes immediately leaves, the horrible sight in terror. But Nancy's eyes keep on haunting him. Her apparition chase him everywhere. In his lunatic state Sikes leaves the town behind and enters into the darkness of a road but he feels a kind of dread shaking him very deep. Everything, stagnant or moving, substance or shadow seems him fearful. The terrifying shape drowned in blood and flesh pursues him all the time. Even the rustling garments in the leaves and every "noiseless noise" of the wind bring the low cry of dying Nancy. If he stops, that apparition also stops, when he runs, that figure follows him like a corpse given the machinery life. Sometimes Sikes prepares himself to beat off the ghost with strong determination but his hairs erect straight and blood ices to find the ghost just behind. Dickens well observers, "let no man talk of murderers escaping justice and hint that providence must sleep. There was two score of violent deaths in one long minute of agony of fear." Sikes is bent down with excessive guilt because it is not possible to escape from own conscience. Suddenly he hears a cry and sees a village caught fire. He rushes to extinguish the fire. Like a devil, he works on throughout the night moving quickly through flames, up and down the ladders. Here Sikes is outcast because of murdering Nancy. He wants to forget the sight by his utmost efforts, but fails. Therefore this scene of fleeing from himself is undoubtedly the most vital and catching of all the scenes of Dickens' novels.

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