In the novel 'Oliver Twist' why did Charles Dickens choose Fagin, a jew, to be a leader of the criminal gang?

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coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Unfortunately London at the time of Charles Dickens was very anti-semitic. Anti-jewish feelings were running high, and it may well have been that,as usual, Dickens was writing from life becuase there is a possibility that he based Fagin on a real life criminal of that time. The man,while he may not have gone out to rob people personally, recieved and sold goods he knew to be stolen. However, it does not look like Dickens did this intentionally to upset Jewish Londoners. However, the latter may have found the depiction offensive, simply because of the stereotype. Dickens also had Jewish friends. Doubtless there were many good Jewish philanthropists also - he later included a more positive Jewish character into his works. Typically, this one isn't remembered as well as famous Fagin.