Why is Nancy such an important character in the novel Oliver Twist?

Why is Nancy such an important character in the novel Oliver Twist?

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Why is Nancy such an important character in the novel Oliver Twist?

There are many reasons Nancy’s character is such an important one in
the novel.

One of these reasons is that when you first see her you are told
that she wears a lot of make up and that she has a great deal of hair
and she is ‘not very tidy about her shoes and stockings’. At that time
this was not a respectable way to dress for a young, respectable
woman, so it gives you the idea that she is a prostitute .At this
moment you think that she is just a low- life woman trying to make a
living.

Even though most people would recognise Nancy for what she is, Oliver
does not and thinks of her as a nice lady. This tells you that Oliver
is meant to be innocent and does not have a clue on what is going on
around him.

Slowly as the story starts to develop, you get the idea that Nancy has
another, more caring, side to her. You find out about this side on
page 142 where she says to Bill Sikes that he’ll have to go through
her if he wants to attack Oliver with his dog, Bullseye. At this point
she also says to Bill that she doesn’t care if he splits her head
against the wall but she still won’t get out of his way. This tells
you that she is caring and does not want Oliver to suffer.

Nancy feels sorry for Oliver because she recognises his innocence and
does not want him to get involved in the criminal underworld as she
did. She is reminded of how she got involved in the criminal
underworld at such a young age and does not want Oliver to waste his
life as she did. When this happens the reader starts to feel a bit
sorry for Nancy.

Nancy also helps to develop the story. It could have ended when Oliver
meets Mr.Brownlow but Nancy kidnaps him, allowing the story to
progress. After kidnapping him, she tries to reunite Oliver with Rose
Maylie so this also helps the plot. By this stage of the story, Nancy’s
life is near its end so Charles Dickens begins to build up sympathy
towards Nancy.

He does this by writing up a cruel end to her life. It starts with the
Jew, Fagin, employing Noah Claypole (whom Fagin knows as Bolter) to go
and spy on Nancy.

Throughout the story, Dickens uses the word ‘Jew’ when referring to
Fagin. This tells you that the anti-Semitic nature of the British does

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not change until after world war two. The play ‘Merchant of Venice’
was written approximately 250 years before and that also had a very
anti – Semitic nature to it. In approximately 250 years, there is no
difference in their attitude towards Jews.

Once having employed Noah, Fagin finds out that Nancy has been meeting
with Rose Maylie. Fagin is furious with Nancy and intends to get her
killed in some way or another. Nancy by this stage of the novel is
starting to see so called ‘signs of death’. She sees things such as
coffins and church bells. All of these things are somehow linked to
death in at least one way. By doing this Dickens builds up even more
sympathy for Nancy, because she is now almost about to be brutally
murdered by Bill Sikes.

In this book there are some characters who are too good to be true and
some who are too bad to be true. For example, Mr. Brownlow and Rose
Maylie are too kind to a boy who has just tried to rob them. On the
other hand, Fagin and Sikes are just too bad, to be even a bit
realistic. For example, Fagin, even though Sikes is his comrade,
wishes dearly to poison him. Sikes is also made out to be too bad as
well. He is always talking in a cruel and harsh manner towards his so-
called ‘girlfriend’ Nancy,whom he, in the end, murders in such an
unbelievable way, that you couldn’t possible believe that he is a
realistic character.

Throughout the book you really only meet two believable characters,
who are Nancy and Mr. Brownlow’s friend, Mr. Grimwig. I think they are
the most believable because they have two sides to them. For example,
Nancy is both kind and caring, but also is part of a criminal
organisation, while Mr. Grimwig is said to be a good person but
doesn’t trust Oliver with the books that Mr. Brownlow has given to
him. Who would anyway? This boy has just been in court for having been
pick pocketing ,so Mr. Grimwig in my opinion is right, to not trust
Oliver.

Fagin gets his own way in the end and gets Nancy killed by Bill Sikes,
by provoking him into it. He says such things as ‘you won’t
be-too-violent, Bill?’and ‘I mean, not too violent for safety .Be
crafty, Bill, and not too bold’. When he knows perfectly well that he
doesn’t care about being violent and is not ever crafty, but he still
says it to him to get him fired up so he will feel no remorse when it
comes to killing Nancy. Fagin also wants Bill Sikes to kill Nancy
quietly so they are not caught.

Even when Nancy is about to be killed she is glad to see Bill.
Dickens writes ‘It is you, Bill’ said the girl, with an expression of
pleasure at his return’. This makes the reader sympathize with Nancy
even more. This also proves that she has two sides to her character.
Even though she has had a meeting with Rose Maylie, She has not
betrayed any of her friends.

This makes Nancy probably the most believable in the entire novel.
Nancy is an important character mainly because of her two sided
personality and because of how she cares for Oliver and this helps
develop the plot of the story.

Lastly because of her being a not too bad and not too good character
she helps to make the whole story more realistic and believable. She
is the only member of the underworld to be liked by the reader and is
also the only one who is nice to Oliver.
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