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In Oliver Twist, Chapter 19, with what traits is the character of Bill Sikes...

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anasking11 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 20, 2009 at 2:35 AM via web

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In Oliver Twist, Chapter 19, with what traits is the character of Bill Sikes portrayed?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted October 21, 2009 at 11:48 AM (Answer #1)

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In Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Chapter 19, Bill Sikes behavior and conversation with Fagin portray a number of character traits. All of these character traits are negative except for one. Sikes portrays the good character trait of trust when he refers to Nancy. Fagin wants Nancy to leave the room before he'll discuss details of a robbery with Bill Sikes, but Sikes declares she can be trusted:

"Why, you don't mind the old girl, do you, Fagin?" he asked at length. "You've known her long enough to trust her, or the Devil's in it."

Sikes's other traits are not at all admirable. He demonstrates he is a drunkard by drinking so much that he falls over in mid-project and falls asleep where he lay:

"Mr. Sikes proceeded to drink brandy at a furious rate...than [sic] he fell over the box upon the floor, and went to sleep where he fell."

Sikes is also irrational in thought: His outbursts contradict his feelings and beliefs to the extent that he has to backtrack on his behavior after realizing an error or inconsistency:

"Let 'em hear!" said Sikes; "I don't care." But as Mr. Sikes did care, on reflection, he dropped his voice as he said the words, and grew calmer..."

On top of this he is contemptuous (scorning others) and heartless:

"With a hoarse grunt of contempt, Mr. Sikes seized the glass..."
"I want a boy, and he mustn't be a big un. [Ned]  kept [his boy] small on purpose, and let him out by the job."

Sikes was also violent, angry and mean:

"Frighten him!" echoed Sikes. "It'll be no sham frightening, mind you..."

The character traits Bill Sikes reveals in Chapter 19 of Oliver Twist are all the things to strive in life to not be--except for having trust in a proven friend.

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