Monks: Character Analysis in Oliver Twist

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Monks' Indispensable Role in the Novel

      Edward Leeford who is more discussed under the name Monks in the novel is among the most remarkable characters of the novel, Oliver Twist. Though Dickens has not drawn him with the same devotion and knack that he has shown in the portraiture of some other characters like Fagin and Sikes yet Monks' role is very important rather indispensable in the certain important happenings of the novel.

      Monks is Oliver's half-brother and his identity is disclosed very late in the novel. Whenever he appears in the novel, he comes out more a mysterious figure, otherwise he remains in the background. Monks: As Shadowy Character Dickens has portrayed Monks more like a shadoway character, not a real figure. Although Fagin seems to be given a touch of supernatural yet it is Monks who is mysterious and unreal personality. His parentage is established in the novel yet it is too late in the development of the plot. For the major part, he remains a shadowy personality. He neither inspires awe nor fear as we find Fagin, Sikes and Toby successful in doing that.

An Ugly Personality Subjected to Epileptic Fits

      Monks is presented in chapter (25) as a dark stranger. But we learn about his personality when in chapter (46) Nancy gives a detailed account of his personality to Mr. Brownlow. She says that there is a red scar on his neck which he tries to hide with his handkerchief. He is subjected to epileptic fits. These fits have developed in him the habit of biting lips and hands. The lurking walk and habit of constantly looking over the shoulder are the stamps of, his personality. He is evil-hearted and it is reflected clearly in his appearance.

      When Oliver has been sent by Mrs. Maylie to the town of Chertsey with the message for the landlord of the inn, he encounters a stranger in his way. This entirely unfamiliar man becomes furious and starts uttering curses the moment he sees the boy. He says that if he had enough courage he would have murdered the boy. He continues to say: "Curses on your head, and black death on your heart, you imp!" As he is about to hit Oliver, he becomes the victim of epileptic fits. He falls on the ground and foam comes out of his mouth. Oliver examines him as a mad man and takes his heels as fast as he can. This man is Monks who has recognized Oliver's identity by the close semblance between his (Oliver's) face and his dead mother's.

Monks: Not a Professional Criminal but Incorrigibly Wicked

      Monks first meets the readers when Fagin returns to his den after his vain search for Sikes. He finds Monks there waiting for him for the last two hours. They start talking about Oliver in which we come to know that Monks is desperately interested in converting Oliver into a criminal. He wants to see Oliver ruined, destroyed and tattered. He says to Fagin, "Anything but his death." This conversation between Monks and Fagin reveals that Monks is a criminal but not of that kind to which belongs Sikes and Fagin. Monks is incorrigibly wicked and he seems to inherit it. His mother tells him something about Oliver's parentage before her death. He learns that Oliver will share his property. From that day he makes it his first purpose in life to convert Oliver into a criminal. He gives a good amount of money to Fagin in order to make Oliver involved in any criminal activity. He destroys all possible evidences that could disclose Oliver's parentage and he feels at ease when he throws the locket into the current of water.

Monks, Fails in his Conspiracy against Oliver

      Nancy reports all the evil designs of Monks to Mr. Brownlow that he is mad after destroying Oliver because Oliver is his half brother and he owns the partnership in his property. Mr. Brownlow, through physical strength and threatening voice makes Monks to surrender his half property with Oliver because he is his half-brother. After giving half of his property to Oliver, Monks departs for America and lavishly spends all his money there and finally dies of an epileptic fit. Thus in order to satisfy his intense hatred for Oliver he becomes a conspirator but fortunately not a murderer.

Monks: A Bond between Three Worlds

      Monks is also a device created by Dickens with the purpose of connecting all the three worlds Oliver goes through. Mr. Brownlow is the representative of middle class, Bumble represents the world of workhouses and Fagin presents the criminal world. Monks is the key figure who meets all these worlds. He has blood relation with Oliver. He meets Mr. and Mrs. Bumble in order to destroy the evidence of Oliver's parentage; he shares a relationship with Fagin with a sole purpose to convert Oliver into a criminal and Mr. Brownlow catches him in order to destroy their evil plot against Oliver.

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