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Laurel
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Re: Oliver Twist: The Masterpiece Classic Film

Yes. The women are prostitutes, and they probably are told to steal all they can from their clients. Fagin and Sikes are pimps and thieves and fences. Nasty business.

 


MaryE935 wrote:

I just finished reading Chapter 16, and Nancy has a violent emotional outburst against Sikes and Fagin.  However, although she makes alot of noise, she is not effective in getting them to change their plans for Oliver.   I got the feeling that she doesn't like her life, and blames them for her situation, but doesn't have any real power or control in the situation.  Also, Dickens says that she throws these tantrums often...

"The Jew wiped his forehead: and smiled, as if it were a relief to have the disturbance over; but neither he, nor Sikes, nor the dog, nor the boys, seemed to consider it in any other light than a common occurance incidental to business.

 'It's the worst of having to do with women,' said the Jew, replacing his club; 'but they're clever, and we can't get on, in our line, without 'em. Charley, show Oliver to bed.'"

 

Do you think that their "line" of business includes prostitution?  Does this make Sikes and Fagin pimps?  Especially Sikes, who assumes the role of her boyfriend/protector and presumably takes money from her?   


 

 

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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MaryE935
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Re: Oliver Twist: The Masterpiece Classic Film

Yes, I understood that Nancy and Betsy were prostitutes, but I guess I didn't realize that Sikes and Fagin were their pimps- 

 

To me, it gives Nancy a deeper character, as an abused woman who has been controlled by these powerful men since her childhood.  It's a shame that these types of situations, personalities, and patterns of behavior are still continued today, in modern society.

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dulcinea3
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Re: Map

[ Edited ]

Choisya wrote:

Great interactive map Laurel - worth keeping for future reference.  I lived 30 years in Barnet before I came to my present home. It was once a leafy village but the underground line turned it into a suburb of London.  I was struck by the statement that Oliver 'left his native place' and walked 70 miles to Barnet which is a further 11 miles from the Strand, where Mr Brownlow lived.  This presumes that his pregnant mother, in turn, had walked 70 miles north when she left her home in the Strand.  Vast distances to walk in such circumstances!

 

 

 


Laurel wrote:

Here's the map I kept wishing I had while I was reading the book:

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/olivertwist/olivers_london.html

 

 


 


 

Actually, Oliver's mother walked from Wales, where her father had taken her and her sister to try to escape their dishonor:

 

'...Goaded by shame and dishonour he fled with his children into a remote corner of Wales, changing his very name that his friends might never know of his retreat; and here, no great while afterwards, he was found dead in his bed. The girl had left her home, in secret, some weeks before; he had searched for her, on foot, in every town and village near; it was on the night when he returned home, assured that she had destroyed herself, to hide her shame and his, that his old heart broke.'

 

Wales seems like it would be even farther to walk from! :smileysurprised: Although I suppose we don't really know where Oliver was born; it is only referred to as "a certain town", so it could be close to Wales (or maybe even in Wales?).

Message Edited by dulcinea3 on 02-18-2009 12:50 PM
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WinterLady
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Re: Oliver Twist: The Masterpiece Classic Film

I also see Nancy as a complex character because there seems to be this internal struggle that she goes through.  I haven't finished the book yet, but as the story progresses I can see how she wants to help Oliver but then ends up doing what Sikes tells her to do. (We see it clearly in the film.)  She gets angry at Sikes and Fagin but then she brings Oliver to Sikes.  So many of the other characters in the book are either all bad or all good, but Nancy appears to be caught in-between.  I think it makes her more likeable.

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crazyladyteacher
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Re: Oliver Twist: The Book (spoilers, ok)

If I can keep up!
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Choisya
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Re: Map

Thanks D - I had forgotten that!   That is one heck of a walk - nearly two hundred miles (212km) and in those days over bad roads, as Wales was a bit of a backwater:smileysad:.  I wonder if the idea of Wales came into Dickens' head when he visited Anglesey to report on the loss of the ship the Royal Charter?  (Anglesey is a small island off the coast of Wales.)

 

 

 


dulcinea3 wrote:

Choisya wrote:

Great interactive map Laurel - worth keeping for future reference.  I lived 30 years in Barnet before I came to my present home. It was once a leafy village but the underground line turned it into a suburb of London.  I was struck by the statement that Oliver 'left his native place' and walked 70 miles to Barnet which is a further 11 miles from the Strand, where Mr Brownlow lived.  This presumes that his pregnant mother, in turn, had walked 70 miles north when she left her home in the Strand.  Vast distances to walk in such circumstances!

 

 

 


Laurel wrote:

Here's the map I kept wishing I had while I was reading the book:

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/olivertwist/olivers_london.html

 

 


 


 

Actually, Oliver's mother walked from Wales, where her father had taken her and her sister to try to escape their dishonor:

 

'...Goaded by shame and dishonour he fled with his children into a remote corner of Wales, changing his very name that his friends might never know of his retreat; and here, no great while afterwards, he was found dead in his bed. The girl had left her home, in secret, some weeks before; he had searched for her, on foot, in every town and village near; it was on the night when he returned home, assured that she had destroyed herself, to hide her shame and his, that his old heart broke.'

 

Wales seems like it would be even farther to walk from! :smileysurprised: Although I suppose we don't really know where Oliver was born; it is only referred to as "a certain town", so it could be close to Wales (or maybe even in Wales?).

Message Edited by dulcinea3 on 02-18-2009 12:50 PM

 

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MaryE935
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Re: Oliver Twist: The Masterpiece Classic Film

I just finished the book.  I was surprised at the sudden development (in the middle of the story) of a romance between Rose and Harry.  I found their relationship to be sickly sweet and sentimental, almost ridiculous.  I suppose Dickens included it as a contrast to Bill and Nancy's relationship, however, personally, I found that Bill and Nancy's relationship was  more compelling, and frankly much more interesting, even given the tragic destructive end.  Overall, the sections in London and with the criminals were better than the sections in the country and with the saviors.

 

In fact, I feel that Nancy was the only fascinating character in the book.  Does anyone else think so, or disagree?

 

Of course, I have to agree with Everyman that Dickens is not my favorite, and I never thought his work was as polished as other authors' works.  I am looking forward to Little Dorrit next month, though. 

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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Oliver Twist: The Masterpiece Classic Film


MaryE935 wrote:

 

In fact, I feel that Nancy was the only fascinating character in the book.  Does anyone else think so, or disagree?

 


Could you expand a little on why you found Nancy interesting, Mary?

~ConnieAnnKirk




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MaryE935
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Re: Oliver Twist: The Masterpiece Classic Film

Nancy is not necessarily that interesting- really only in comparison to the other characters in the book.  Everyone else just acts out their parts- she's the only one who actually thinks about her place in the world (who she is, what her actions state for her being) and expresses these existential questions.

 

She is interesting because of her sexuality, her addiction, her emotional struggles- all tied up in her abusive relationship with Sikes.

 

She is torn between helping Oliver escape the criminal life (and thereby condemning her own identity and lifestyle) and remaining loyal to Sikes.  Even when given a choice by Rose and Mr. Brownlow to start over and life a "respectable" life, she refuses to leave and betray Sikes.  A tragic portrayal of how difficult it is sometimes for a woman to leave an abusive relationship.

 

Is she a product of her environment?  If she had been brought up differently and not corrupted by Fagin, would she have a personality more like Rose's?  I wonder how Dickens would answer these questions, but I fear that he would resort to the class distinctions of his time.  After all, the only reason Oliver is redeemed is because he is secretly of noble blood. 

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Laurel
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Re: Oliver Twist: The Masterpiece Classic Film

Good post, Mary. Concerning your last paragraph, I don't quite agree. If you've read David Copperfield, think of the narrator's attitude toward Peggoty and L'il Emily and their relatives.

MaryE935 wrote:

Nancy is not necessarily that interesting- really only in comparison to the other characters in the book.  Everyone else just acts out their parts- she's the only one who actually thinks about her place in the world (who she is, what her actions state for her being) and expresses these existential questions.

 

She is interesting because of her sexuality, her addiction, her emotional struggles- all tied up in her abusive relationship with Sikes.

 

She is torn between helping Oliver escape the criminal life (and thereby condemning her own identity and lifestyle) and remaining loyal to Sikes.  Even when given a choice by Rose and Mr. Brownlow to start over and life a "respectable" life, she refuses to leave and betray Sikes.  A tragic portrayal of how difficult it is sometimes for a woman to leave an abusive relationship.

 

Is she a product of her environment?  If she had been brought up differently and not corrupted by Fagin, would she have a personality more like Rose's?  I wonder how Dickens would answer these questions, but I fear that he would resort to the class distinctions of his time.  After all, the only reason Oliver is redeemed is because he is secretly of noble blood. 


 

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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WinterLady
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Re: Oliver Twist: The Masterpiece Classic Film

 

Good points about Nancy.  I think Nancy's conflicted feelings have created her anger and bitterness which Dickens shows in her drinking and her temper. 

 

In Chapter 26, after the botched burglary, Nancy says she hopes Oliver is dead in the ditch, which surprises Fagin.  And then she says "I can't bear to have him about me.  The sight of him turns me against myself, and all of you."

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Re: Oliver Twist: The Masterpiece Classic Film

[ Edited ]

Thanks, Laurel.  I have not read David Copperfield, but in Great Expectations Dickens' attitude is that Joe, the blacksmith, is the exemplary character.  But perhaps this is because Joe is content with his station in life, and not trying to rise above his birth, like Pip tries to do.

 

Do you think Dickens means that Nancy's criminal life is a result of her poverty and exploitation, as opposed to her personality?  I suppose so.  For example, Bill has a personality that insures his criminal activities, regardless of his environment.  Even if he was wealthy, he would still be cruel and violent.  But Nancy would act differently if her situation in life were different. 

 

I think at times, Dickens tries to be flexible about class in English society, but is still constricted by the culture of his times.  He reinforces stereotypes about good people being born to upper classes, and lower class people being content in their station. 

 

 

 

 

Message Edited by MaryE935 on 02-21-2009 10:20 AM
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Laurel
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Re: Oliver Twist: The Masterpiece Classic Film

I'll never be able to understand the class system, that's for sure, and I know that Dickens was not able to completely disentangle himself from it. The idea of keeping to one's station is certainly there. He definitely seems to have some forndness for and respect of Nancy, though, doesn't he? Nancy's beginnings had much to do with her end, but it's made clear that she had the power to choose. It's difficult to untangle the threads of motive. I know I can't plumb the depths of the human heart.

MaryE935 wrote:

Thanks, Laurel.  I have not read David Copperfield, but in Great Expectations Dickens' attitude is that Joe, the blacksmith, is the exemplary character.  But perhaps this is because Joe is content with his station in life, and not trying to rise above his birth, like Pip tries to do.

 

Do you think Dickens means that Nancy's criminal life is a result of her poverty and exploitation, as opposed to her personality?  I suppose so.  For example, Bill has a personality that insures his criminal activities, regardless of his environment.  Even if he was wealthy, he would still be cruel and violent.  But Nancy would act differently if her situation in life were different. 

 

I think at times, Dickens tries to be flexible about class in English society, but is still constricted by the culture of his times.  He reinforces stereotypes about good people being born to upper classes, and lower class people being content in their station. 

 

 

 

 

Message Edited by MaryE935 on 02-21-2009 10:20 AM

 

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Choisya
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Re: Oliver Twist: The Masterpiece Classic Film

Like many Victorians, Dickens accepted that the class system was god-given but he 'insisted that God meant the lower classes to have more choices than "oppression and starvation"'.  As the Victorian hymn went:-

 

'The rich man in his castle

The poor man at his gate

God made them, high or lowly

And ordered their estate.'

 

Victorian Web has further information on Dicken's beliefs about class, particularly the role of women within the various classes.  The religious role of women in the home is expressed in the VW article by the historian Catherine Hall:-

 

'...women in the domestic sphere did more than just sew, cook, and clean. They functioned as moral and religious guides for their husbands. The "division between male and female worlds had a religious connotation, for the marketplace was considered dangerously amoral. The men who operated in that sphere could save themselves only through constant contact with the moral world of the home, where women acted as carriers of the pure values that could counteract the destructive tendencies of the market" ' 

 

SPOILER This article also suggests that 'Dickens'solution to the problem of women who do not act in accordance with Victorian gender construction often involves a violent taming of them: Mrs. Joe is beaten into submission by Orlick, Molly is tamed by Mr. Jaggers, and Estella is beaten by her husband, Bentley Drummle. Any deviance from gender norms on the part of women in Great Expectations is greeted with violence.'  Nancy is not mentioned here but Dickens portrayed her as a woman willing to step outside the submissive role by disobeying both Fagin and Bill and so she paid the price by a beating, and death.

 

 

 

 

NB:  Please do not rank this or any of my posts.  Thankyou.  C.   

 

 

 

 


Laurel wrote:
I'll never be able to understand the class system, that's for sure, and I know that Dickens was not able to completely disentangle himself from it. The idea of keeping to one's station is certainly there. He definitely seems to have some forndness for and respect of Nancy, though, doesn't he? Nancy's beginnings had much to do with her end, but it's made clear that she had the power to choose. It's difficult to untangle the threads of motive. I know I can't plumb the depths of the human heart.

MaryE935 wrote:

Thanks, Laurel.  I have not read David Copperfield, but in Great Expectations Dickens' attitude is that Joe, the blacksmith, is the exemplary character.  But perhaps this is because Joe is content with his station in life, and not trying to rise above his birth, like Pip tries to do.

 

Do you think Dickens means that Nancy's criminal life is a result of her poverty and exploitation, as opposed to her personality?  I suppose so.  For example, Bill has a personality that insures his criminal activities, regardless of his environment.  Even if he was wealthy, he would still be cruel and violent.  But Nancy would act differently if her situation in life were different. 

 

I think at times, Dickens tries to be flexible about class in English society, but is still constricted by the culture of his times.  He reinforces stereotypes about good people being born to upper classes, and lower class people being content in their station. 

 

 

 

 

 

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MaryE935
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Re: Oliver Twist: The Masterpiece Classic Film

Thank you, Choisya- those articles shed some light on Dickens' attitudes as a reflection of his times.

 

And in light of Nancy, I now certainly understand better why Dickens did not allow her to step out of her place and solved her existential conflict with violence from a man.