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Bill Sikes’s personality traits in Oliver Twist


Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist is characterized by his brutality, aggression, and lack of remorse. He is a violent criminal who shows little to no compassion or empathy, making him a fearsome and intimidating figure in the novel.

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What traits of Bill Sikes are revealed in chapter 19 of Oliver Twist?

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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In Oliver Twist, what are Bill Sikes’s personality traits?

The response generated is correct, accurately depicting Bill Sikes’s personality traits. He is brutal, cruel, violent, ill-tempered, dishonest and sometimes shrewd in a larcenous way. He is described as the “surly Mr. Sikes” and “the brutal Sikes.” His cruelty extends to anyone and anything that threaten to prevent his getting what he wants. Although his associates are also dishonest and thieving, his cruelty and violence surpass anything they are capable of and they generally fear him.

He exerts his will over everyone. When Nancy objects to participating in the scheme to get Oliver, Bill dismisses her and tells Fagin,

“She’ll go, Fagin,” said Sikes.

“No, she won’t, Fagin,” said Nancy.

“Yes, she will, Fagin,” said Sikes.

And Mr. Sikes was right. By dint of alternate threats, promises, and bribes, the lady in question was ultimately prevailed upon to undertake the commission.

He is even cruel to his dog. In one scene, Sikes means to slit the dog's throat and kill him, but the dog escapes. Sikes is so disappointed that he is unable to inflict harm, that he “at once transferred his share in the quarrel to the new comer” and turns his attention to harming Nancy. Nancy tells Sikes “Keep back the dog; he’ll tear the boy to pieces,” but Sikes has no emotions other than anger and greed. He responds,

“Serve him right!” cried Sikes, struggling to disengage himself from the girl’s grasp. “Stand off from me, or I’ll split your head against the wall.”

His cruelty and lack of empathy have no bounds and he threatens to kill Nancy if she doesn’t get out of his way. Eventually, he does kill her. In the scene, Nancy naively begs for her life, crying, “Bill, dear Bill, you cannot have the heart to kill me. Oh! think of all I have given up, only this one night, for you.” Bill, who had been her boyfriend, then “seized a heavy club and struck her down.”

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