William Sikes: Character Analysis in Oliver Twist

Also Read

William Sikes: Symbol of Evil

      Like Fagin, Sikes is the symbol of evil in the novel Oliver Twist. Sikes can be called a greater villain than Fagin. In the novel's world of crime Sikes is a leading figure. He is more vigorous and dynamic in comparison to Fagin. Throughout the novel Sikes is presented as a solely devilish character. If anyone says that no one can be entirely good or bad in life, we don't agree. We do accept that there are completely good or evil personalities in this world. In Oliver Twist, the best example of wholly good character is Mr. Brownlow; likewise Sikes is convincingly drawn as solely bad and he bears the stamp of realism also. He does not seem entirely imaginative character, he is given realistic touches also.

The Outward Appearance of Sikes

      Sikes is described as a stoutly-built man who is about thirty-five years old. His personality does not attract men because it is in no way neat and handsome. He is that kind of man whom we would not like to encounter in our life. We repel the characters like him. He is always accompanied by a shaggy dog.

      In chapter (13) he is described as unshaven, scowling and dirty with 'the kind of legs which.... always look in an unfinished and incomplete state without a set of fetters to them'. Dickens has used several adjectives to refer Sikes—'savage', 'surly', 'fierce', 'furious’, 'desperate', etc. His outward appearance is the out come of Dickens' belief that there is a correspondence between the physical appearance of a man and his inner truth. As in Oliver, his innocence is reflected on his face.

Inhumanity of Sikes

      From the very start Sikes is presented as inhuman. Though he is always accompanied by his dog yet he never shows any affection for him. Nancy ardently loves him and she persists in her loyalty and fidelity inspite, of Sikes' brutality and ill-treatment. He addresses her with a growl as he calls his dog. Though in chapter (19) Sikes has shown his full confidence in her yet it is not revealed in her outward maimer. Ultimately he murders her after displaying much tyranny and extreme ruthlessless to her.

      Sikes feels over-confidence and speaks to others as their superior. He talks to Fagin even in a threatening tone. He threatens Fagin for bullying the boys. Sikes previous crimes are awe-inspiring and horrifying. Few criminal friends of Sikes have already been hanged. He is so dominating that Fagin has to yield and act according to his dictates. Sikes scolds Fagin a lot when Fagin visits him after very long gap.

The Killer of Nancy

      Nancy is deeply in love with Sikes and she is working under his supervision for a long time. She is very much devoted to him. Dickens' Preface to the novel reveals that there has developed a sexual relationship between them. Nancy is like his mistress attending upon him during his illness. But Sikes always rebukes her and scolds her. He keeps on criticizing her and curses her during his illness though Nancy does her best to take care of him. He, on one occasion, has beaten Nancy because she wants to go out of home late in the night. When Noah Claypole reports the conversations between Nancy and Mr. Brownlow to him that she has gone against them, Sikes bursts out in anger. He rushes to his home and so mercilessly batters Nancy that she consequently dies. Here Sikes comes out as a real savage and real diabolical character. Thus he seems a veritable devil.

Sikes conditions after Killing Nancy

      After murdering Nancy Sikes becomes so frightful that he starts running from one place to another. His ghastly act perpetually haunts his mind, and he finds it too difficult to escape particularly from Nancy's eyes. When the village catches fire he puts his best to save the villagers and extinguish the fire not because he has any sympathy for them but because he is badly in need of some change. He finds himself all alone and craves for a human company.

Sikes' Death

      Sikes' condition has become worst after murdering Nancy. He always thinks what would happen to him if the murder comes in light. He wanders here and there in order to save himself. Finally he comes back to London city and seeks a shelter at Toby Crackits home. Charley Bates who is also there physically attacks upon him in furry outraged by the murder of Nancy but Sikes has soon overpowered him. He starts escaping himself with the help of a rope. He ties its one end to the chimney-top but he is estrangled by the noose and everyone outside the house sees him hanging dead. Dickens has so impressively portrayed the condition of Sikes during his wanderings that Sikes' end becomes the most powerful piece in the novel. In fact, this scene transforms him into a man from brute.

Sikes, not Unconvincing Character

      Few critics have raised objection against the portrayal of Sikes that this character is unconvincing because it is almost impossible to find a character entirely bad. Dickens was perhaps conscious of this objection, thus he has written in the Preface to the novel: "It has been objected to Sikes....that he is surely overdrawn...But of one thing I am certain: that there are such men as Sikes, who, being closely followed through the same space of time and through the same current of circumstances, would not give, by one look or action of a moment, the faintness indication of a better nature."

Previous Post Next Post