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Fagin`s Character In Charles Dickens` “Oliver Twist”

1010 words - 5 pages

Fagin`s Character in Charles Dickens`
“Oliver Twist”
Characters are one of the most significant features that writers use to express their thoughts and illustrate their messages. These characters may be good or bad depending on the characterization given to them by the writers. In other words, the goodness or evilness of a character is determined by the way the writers depict the character`s physical appearance, speech, behavior or reaction. In “Oliver Twist”, Dickens successfully chooses his characters to suit the message of his work. This novel deals with many topics, one of which is the world of crime and criminals. One major character in this field of criminality is Fagin, the Jew.
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Some say that Dickens is anti-Semitic and they have their own evidence. They support their opinion by saying that Dickens shows Fagin as extremely bad or evil which is offensive towards all the Jews. In addition, Dickens` description of Fagin is a proof for his anti-Semitism point of view. For example, in his novel, Dickens refers to Fagin by calling him “the Jew” 257 times only in the first 38 chapters. He is referring to him by his radical and religious origin, not by his real name normally as other characters. That is why Dickens is accused of anti-Semitism.
Another group of people argue that Dickens is not anti-Semitic, and they also have what support their ideas. Those people take Dickens` words of defending as their proof for Semitism. As the first group of people tells their opinions, Dickens says that he had made Fagin Jewish because "it unfortunately was true, of the time to which the story refers, that the class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew". Besides, he says that he does not mean any kind of offence towards the Jewish faith by callings Fagin “the Jew”, saying: "I have no feeling towards the Jews but a friendly one. I always speak well of them, whether in public or private, and bear my testimony (as I ought to do) to their perfect good faith in such transactions as I have ever had with them”. Moreover, Eliza, the wife of the Jewish banker to whom Dickens sold his home in London, tells Dickens that the Jews see his description of Fagin as a great wrong to all the Jews. Therefore, Dickens changes some things related to Fagin after revising the novel, and hence he removes more than 180 expression of “the Jew”. He even writes another work to show that he is not against the Jews and that he has no problem with them. This work is “Our Mutual Friend” which includes a Jewish character called Mr. Riah who is as good as Fagin is bad, and as...

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