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Oliver Twist > Oliver Twist Chapters 42-46

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message 1: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2984 comments Mod
Chapter 42

Hello Fellow Curiosities

As we approach the end of Oliver Twist I hope you have enjoyed the discussions and insights as much as I have. Have you been on vacation while reading it, or simply sitting in your yard or under a tree with the book in your hands? Tristram will be joining us after his vacation for our reading of Nicholas Nickleby. At present, my wife and I are surrounded by boxes as we complete our packing for our move back to Toronto. We have become grandparents and are moving there to enjoy the first years of our grandson’s life. Here’s hoping he will grow up to be an avid reader like his mother, father, grandmother and myself. For now, however, here are this week’s commentaries.


This chapter begins with a mystery as so many of Dickens’s chapters do. Our mystery is who are these two persons coming to London? It takes Dickens a few paragraphs to let us know that the couple is Charlotte and Noah, and they are walking. Noah continues to demonstrate his earlier crude and bullying manner as we learn that while his load is much lighter than Charlotte’s, he tells Charlotte that if she can’t keep up with him “I’ll kick her, and so I give her notice.” Is Noah a Sikes in training? Apparently Charlotte is no Mrs Bumble for she takes Noah’s abuse. We learn that Charlotte took money from Sowerbury’s till for Noah. Poor Charlotte, she thinks it is because Noah trusts her that she still carries the money, little realizing that means she remains in direct possession with the stolen goods should they be caught.

As they enter London Dickens becomes more specific as to their exact location. I can’t help but think what today’s residents of the streets and lanes think when they read their locations in a Dickens novel. Noah and Charlotte end up at The Three Cripples where they are ushered into a room for a meal. Little do they suspect that the room has a spy hole and the owners of The Three Cripples and Fagin are watching and listening to our rural travellers. Fagin likes the looks of Noah and the fact that “he knows how to train the girl already.”

Thoughts


The conversation between Noah and Charlotte reveals that Noah’s long range criminal plans sound suspiciously like Fagin’s world. How ironic is it that Fagin is listening intently to Noah’s conversation? What do you think Dickens’s purpose was in having Fagin listen to Noah’s long-range criminal plans?

I enjoyed the conversation between Fagin and Noah where we see Noah believing himself to be so clever and sharp. Noah learns quickly, however, that Fagin is the much the sharper individual. In fact, Fagin goes so far as to say that “I have taken a fancy to you and the young woman; so I’ve said the word, and you may make your minds easy.” What other events in the conversation between Fagin and Noah prove that Noah is way out of his league when it comes to being a criminal?


As their conversation continues we find that Noah is just as intent on not getting caught in a crime as he is willing to be a criminal. Fagin schools Claypole in various types of crime from robbing old ladies purses to stealing charge from children on errands for their parents. Fagin even offers to show Claypole the best places to perform a crime. Claypole and Charlotte arrange to meet tomorrow morning at ten. Noah says his name is Mr Morris Bolter and so our chapter ends with Noah Claypole (aka Morris Bolter) thinking he is a very clever criminal. For Fagin, the chapter ends no doubt with him in disbelief he has met such a country stooge and fooled him completely.

Thoughts


This chapter can be approached in many ways by its readers. Is it a chapter of comedic melodrama, a chapter of character and plot development, a filler chapter of little importance, or a major chapter as it draws more of the separate plot characters closer together and thus signals a coming climax, or at least intensity of action? Perhaps more than one purpose? Tell us what you think.


message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2984 comments Mod
Chapter 43

The chapter begins with Noah (aka Bolter) finding out that Fagin’s friend was, in fact, Fagin. This leads to a rather convoluted discussion about friends and enemies and who is what and when. Dickens must have enjoyed writing this chapter’s opening paragraphs. The summary comment on their philosophical discussion is, I would guess, always look after yourself first, but make the other person think they are as important to you as you are to yourself. OK. Too much philosophy!

Their conversation devolves into comments on hanging (or the “halter”) and it is important to remember that we have already encountered much discussion about hanging earlier in the novel. Something not to forget, perhaps? Fagin sees that he has totally captured Noah’s attention and so spins stories true and false about his operations. Noah is completely impressed, or would it be more accurate to say fooled?

We then learn that Fagin’s “best hand,” the Artful Dodger, was taken by the authorities the day before. The Dodger may only be in custody for a few weeks or he might become “a lifer.” Charley Bates then enters the room with the knowledge that “the Artful’s booked for a passage out.” Such news is depressing to Bates who wishes that the Dodger had robbed some old gentleman and thus “go out as a gentleman.” Such regret that the Artful Dodger won’t be remembered in the “Newgate Calendar.” There is such an ironic edge to this conversation. It is a pure delight to read.

Thoughts


The capture of the Dodger brings out Dickens’s wit. When Fagin marvels at the fact that the Dodger is so young it will be a distinction to be transported, we, as readers, may pause to consider the statement at length. How do you respond to Fagin’s comments? Do you find them humourous, sad, ironic, sincere, mocking? How would Dickens’s first reading audience respond?

Fagin then decides that they will treat the Dodger like royalty in jail. He looks forward to how the Dodger will deport himself in jail and in the court and Bates looks upon the Dodger “as the chief actor in a scene of most uncommon and exquisite humour.” Fagin and Bates realize that they will need a set of eyes to report on the events befalling the Dodger in jail and the obvious person to help them is Noah. Noah, who is more talk than walk, initially refuses, but his fear of Fagin overcomes his own bravery and so he agrees.

Noah goes to Bow Street and there he encounters a room that “smelt close and unwholesome” where “depravity or poverty, or an habitual acquaintance with both” has created a “thick greasy scum.” So much for the dignity of humans or the court system. What follows is a series of paragraphs where the Dodger gives an Oscar-worthy performance and the chapter ends with Fagin receiving the news that the Dodger had established for himself “a glorious reputation.”

Thoughts

This chapter furthers the satire of the last chapter. This chapter is almost like Swift in its tone. What do you think Dickens’s intent was in this chapter? What is your response to Dickens’s style?


message 3: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2984 comments Mod
Chapter 44

Our chapter begins with a study of Nancy and the stress and trauma she is feeling internally because of her contact with Rose Maylie. In her mind she remembers Fagin as being “crafty” and Sikes as “brutal.” Mostly, however, she recalls Fagin as the person “who had led her, step by step, deeper and deeper into an abyss of crime and misery, whence was no escape; still, there were times when, even towards him, she felt some relenting.” Earlier in our discussions it was mentioned that Nancy exhibited symptoms of the “Stockholm Syndrome” and from what little I know about the syndrome that makes sense to me. What a horrid form of conflict in one’s mind, or, even with a different twist, a twist where one protects their abuser. In any case, Nancy is losing weight and experiences violent mood swings.

Thoughts


To what degree are you sympathetic to Nancy? Is it possible to feel sorrow and forgiveness to someone who has exhibited criminal attributes as Nancy has for so long?


Meanwhile, Sikes and Fagin are discussing how they do not have much business to do which is good news for property owners but not for these criminals. At this point in the chapter Nancy wants to slip out and make her rendezvous with Rose but Sikes refuses to let her leave their apartment and threatens to have the dog “have such a grip on your throat as’ll tear some of that screaming voice out.” Throats again. Here we have a double referral to earlier actions and suggestions in the novel. First, once again Sikes makes references to animals and violence and second there is a focus on violence done to a person’s throat. Nancy’s desire to leave the apartment is met with more violence from Sikes and soon the time is past midnight and thus Nancy cannot make the meeting place. Sikes tells Fagin that he thought he “had tamed her but she is as bad as ever” but takes solace that if she disobeys like this again “l’ll let her a little blood.”

As Fagin leaves Sikes says that it would be a pity if Fagin “should break his neck himself, and disappoint the sight-seers.” More references to necks. Alone with Nancy at the bottom of the stairs, Fagin turns tempter and assures Nancy that he is her friend and tells Nancy that if she wants revenge on those “that treat you like a dog —like a dog! worse than his dog ... [Sikes] is the mere hound of a day.”

Thoughts

In this chapter we are getting repeated references to Sikes exhibiting animal-like tendencies or being referenced as an animal and more than once we read references to a person’s neck. Why might these associations and images continue to occur?



As Nancy leaves Fagin he begins to muse on the changes that seem to be occurring in Nancy’s character and actions. He correctly assumes that she must have “conceived an attachment for some new friend” which is correct. However, Fagin is wrong when he assumes this new person must be another criminal. He calculates that Nancy may be willing to kill Sikes by poisoning to rid herself of him. Then, Fagin reasons, he will have full access to both Nancy and the mysterious person she is now becoming attached. And full access would mean, in Fagin’s mind, full control.

Thoughts

Did anyone else feel a hint of Shakespeare’s Iago in this chapter? Fagin and Iago are both masters of manipulation, both evil, and both willing to sacrifice anyone’s life to gain total control over others.

This chapter was one of insightful psychology and the nuanced actions of characters. What part of this chapter most interested, intrigued, or even frightened you?


message 4: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2984 comments Mod
Chapter 45

We continue to follow Fagin in this chapter as he awaits his new associate Noah Claypole (aka Morris Bolter) who insists on satisfying his hunger before any other business is attended to. I found this meeting to be of great interest. As the Dodger can no longer be of any use to Fagin we see how Fagin does not waste any time in planning to refresh his band of criminals. In the last chapter he has planned to kill Sikes and recruit Nancy’s new acquaintance (can you imagine Rose as part of Fagin’s Gang?) and is already grooming Bolter and Charlotte. Fagin, always cautious and always in the shadows as others do his bidding, instructs Bolter to follow Nancy and to find out where she goes and who she meets. Bolter, eager to please Fagin, and equally enamoured by his own supposedly brilliant criminal mind, readily agrees.

Fagin and Bolter head off to The Three Cripples where they spy on Nancy. When Nancy leaves Bolter is close behind and follows her into the London night.

Thoughts


A short chapter to be sure, but I feel the pace and the urgency of the novel increasing. Who do you think has the upper hand in the Bolter - Fagin relationship? What is your reasoning?

For what structural reasons do you think Dickens included this admittedly very short chapter in the novel?


message 5: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2984 comments Mod
Chapter 46

The last chapter was short; this chapter is long and rich in suspense, character revelation, and foreshadowing. Dickens has made up for his earlier brevity.

As the dark midnight hour approaches we find Nancy on London Bridge and Bolter in the “deepest shadows he could find.” Both Bolter and Nancy restlessly wait, in silence, in the mists, on the bridge. Dickens is taking his time in this chapter He slowly creates suspense and atmosphere. We read that a young lady and a grey haired gentleman appear on the bridge and Nancy moves towards them. Nancy wants the meeting to occur down some private steps. Bolter is near. Dickens must be enjoying creating this scene. Nancy explains that she is full of dread and fear and has had “horrible thoughts of death, and shrouds with blood upon them, and a fear that has made me burn as if I was on fire.” She then says she was reading a book and would swear she saw the word “coffin” on every page of the book in large black letters.

Thoughts

How would you explain, or do a close reading, of Nancy’s words and imaginings of coffins, shrouds with blood, fires, and imagining she saw the word “coffin.”

I was surprised that Nancy said she was reading. I had assumed that a person such as herself would have had little or no education given the fact that she is only 18 and has been with Fagin for so long. Do you think this was a mis-step by Dickens or will this comment lead us somewhere else later in the novel?



Nancy is told that in order to unravel the secret of Oliver it will be necessary to secure either Monks or Fagin and that either of these men must be delivered up by Nancy. Nancy says she will never deliver Fagin to them. Her reasoning is that she has been bad as well, and they have never turned on her so she will never turn on them. It is painful as a reader to see the honour that Nancy holds for Fagin, regardless of her logic or right reasoning, and know that Fagin has turned on Nancy and that as she speaks Bolter is hearing every word. Nancy and Mr Brownlow decide to get Monks into custody. Fagin will go free unless Nancy gives her consent for him to be captured.

Nancy gives a full description of Monks which centres on his face which is “dark, like his hair and eyes. ... his lips are often discoloured and disfigured with the marks of teeth; for he has desperate fits, and sometimes even bites his hands and covers them with wounds.” This description suggests that Monks almost self-consumes himself. What a truly grotesque thought! Now, let’s take a breath and finish off the description, shall we? Nancy continues her description by saying that “upon his throat: so high that you can see a part of it below his neckerchief...” can be found “a broad red mark, like a burn or scald.”

Thoughts

The description of Monks is a key to the novel. If we consider the description of his face - and here we must again note the use of a face - what impressions do you think Dickens is trying to convey? Why might this be important?

In last week’s comments on the illustrations posted by Kim we read that Monks has the look and actions of a Gothic character. Do you find that this chapter creates further examples of a Gothic connection to Monks’s character?

We also note in this description there is a focus on Monks’s neck. What does this description suggest to you?

To what degree do you think that Dickens “just happened” to describe Monks’s neck as he did?


For all of Nancy’s help Rose and Mr Brownlow offer, in return, any help or assistance she would request, even to be whisked away to a safe place to live for the rest of her life. Nancy turns down the offer of a sanctuary for life because she says “she has gone too far to turn back ... I must go home.” Nancy says, looking at the dark waters of the Thames, that “it may be years hence, or it may be only months, but I shall come to that at last.” Here, Nancy shows that she knows her life will end in pain or suicide. Nancy refuses the purse of money that Rose offers and so Rose and Mr Brownlow depart. Nancy then leaves the bridge and finally Noah Claypole leaves his hiding place and rushes to Fagin’s den as quickly as he can.


Thoughts


The novel is moving closer and closer to a time where the various characters, both good and bad, will confront each other. What event or events in this chapter did you find most interesting or powerful?


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Peter wrote: "Chapter 42

As we approach the end of Oliver Twist I hope you have enjoyed the discussions and insights as much as I have. Have you been on vacation while reading it, or s..."


What better reveal is there of Noah's personality than his smiling and laughing when he learns all he has to do to be a successful thief is take a child's change, shove him to the ground, and walk away calmly leaving the child sniffling and crying while everyone thinks he has fallen and scraped a knee. Meanwhile stealing a purse from a lady is too dangerous.

He has psychopathic tendencies peppered with cowardice. My best guess is Noah could be a Sikes when it comes to children and women, but not men. He's a manipulator though, and given the right tutoring could succeed as a Fagin. Fagin would have had Charlotte carry the money for the same reason.


message 7: by Xan Shadowflutter (last edited Aug 06, 2018 01:42PM) (new)

Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Peter wrote: "Chapter 43

The chapter begins with Noah (aka Bolter) finding out that Fagin’s friend was, in fact, Fagin. This leads to a rather convoluted discussion about friends and enemies and who is what and..."


I enjoyed this chapter. When Fagin and Charlie, after commiserating over the Dodger's predicament, set eyes on Noah I thought they got the bright idea of somehow swapping Noah with the Dodger. I have to say I was rooting for this and was disappointed when it didn't happen.

One of the things missing in this novel is we don't see or know enough about the Dodger. If this were a TV show, the Dodger would soon be starring in a spin-off.


message 8: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2275 comments Peter wrote: "Our mystery is who are these two persons coming to London? ..."

I groaned a little when I started this chapter, thinking that it was pretty late in the book for Dickens to be introducing us to yet more new characters. So I was relieved that it turned out to be Noah and Charlotte. I shouldn't have been surprised. In the last segment, he brought together the various factions of "good guys" and now, in perfect symmetry, he's bringing together all of our "bad guys."


message 9: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2275 comments Peter wrote: "What follows is a series of paragraphs where the Dodger gives an Oscar-worthy performance and the chapter ends with Fagin receiving the news that the Dodger had established for himself “a glorious reputation.”..."

This scene of the Dodger in the courtroom gave me my first real laughs in this book. He's such a cheeky bugger! Xan is spot on when he says Dodger would have his own spin-off if this was TV. I think, though, that I would give him a less annoying sidekick than Charlie Bates!


message 10: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2275 comments Peter wrote: "To what degree are you sympathetic to Nancy? Is it possible to feel sorrow and forgiveness to someone who has exhibited criminal attributes as Nancy has for so long?..."

I had all kinds of sympathy for Nancy..... until she met with Rose. There she was given an opportunity to get out and start anew - even in another country - but she made the conscious decision to return to Bill. I know I'm coming to this from a position of comparative privilege in the 21st century, but I still find it hard to respect her at this point, Stockholm Syndrome and all.

Sikes refuses to let her leave their apartment and threatens to have the dog “have such a grip on your throat as’ll tear some of that screaming voice out.”

After last week's illustrations, I looked at a couple of websites for information about Bullseye. Guilty of being an unapologetic animal lover, I always felt bad for Bullseye, and considered him another victim of Sikes (I wonder if he'd return to Bill, given the opportunity to live with a family who fed him regularly and treated him with kindness.... hmm....). The little bit of literary analysis I found, though, treated Bullseye as a representation of Sikes - a brute without a conscience. Spoilers prevent me from sharing more, but I'd be interested in hearing everyone else's views of Bullseye when we discuss the novel as a whole. Is he Nancy, Sikes, neither, or both?


message 11: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2275 comments Peter wrote: "This chapter was one of insightful psychology and the nuanced actions of characters..."

I suppose it's safe to say that changes in Nancy's behaviour in recent weeks caused Sikes and Fagin to be watching her more closely than they may have in the past. I can't think that Nancy would have made arrangements to be on the bridge if she didn't believe she could get there easily enough, but the men were having none of it. The stress is obviously getting to her. But for a woman who's had to live by her wits, and has been accustomed, I think, to lying as much as breathing, she proved in this case to be a terrible liar. As I read, I found it hard to believe just how awful her acting was! She may as well have told them straight out that she had a rendezvous on the bridge. Ah, well.... I guess it served the purpose of giving them a reason to have Noah follow her.


message 12: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2275 comments Question: Did anyone else notice that Dickens never named the "gentleman" who was with Rose on the bridge until the very end of the chapter? For most of the meeting with Nancy, we knew not if it was Mr. Brownlow or Mr. Losberne. I believe we could rule out Harry, as the gentleman was sometimes described as "grey-haired," and I think it was a safe assumption to rule out Grimwig, as he does not have as much of a bond with Oliver, and was probably brought in in more of an advisory capacity. Why do you think Dickens didn't name Brownlow until the very end of the chapter?

As for the description of Monks (and Brownlow's recognition), I still haven't got the slightest clue how they all tie together. With all the talk of hangings, throttlings, and necks in general, I'm intrigued by the scar on Monks' throat. Did he manage to escape from the noose at some point? What else might have left a lasting mark?


message 13: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "What better reveal is there of Noah's personality than his smiling and laughing when he learns all he has to do to be a successful thief is take a child's change..."

Xan,
I agree with all of your insights about Noah. He does seem a weird blend of Fagin and Sikes, but much more lazy and cowardly. He is a very dislikeable character.


message 14: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5598 comments Mod


The Jew & Morris Both begin to understand each other

Chapter 42

George Cruikshank,

Text Illustrated:

Mr. Claypole looked into the porter-pot with an aspect of deep wisdom; and having well shaken its contents, nodded condescendingly to Charlotte, and took a draught, wherewith he appeared greatly refreshed. He was meditating another, when the sudden opening of the door, and the appearance of a stranger, interrupted him.

The stranger was Mr. Fagin. And very amiable he looked, and a very low bow he made, as he advanced, and setting himself down at the nearest table, ordered something to drink of the grinning Barney.

"A pleasant night, sir, but cool for the time of year," said Fagin, rubbing his hands. "From the country, I see, sir?"

How do yer see that?" asked Noah Claypole.

"We have not so much dust as that in London," replied Fagin, pointing from Noah's shoes to those of his companion, and from them to the two bundles.

"Yer a sharp feller," said Noah. "Ha! ha! only hear that, Charlotte!"

"Why, one need be sharp in this town, my dear," replied the Jew, sinking his voice to a confidential whisper; "and that's the truth."

Fagin followed up this remark by striking the side of his nose with his right forefinger, — a gesture which Noah attempted to imitate, though not with complete success, in consequence of his own nose not being large enough for the purpose. However, Mr. Fagin seemed to interpret the endeavour as expressing a perfect coincidence with his opinion, and put about the liquor which Barney reappeared with, in a very friendly manner.

"Good stuff that," observed Mr. Claypole, smacking his lips.

"Dear!" said Fagin. "A man need be always emptying a till, or a pocket, or a woman's reticule, or a house, or a mail-coach, or a bank, if he drinks it regularly."

Mr. Claypole no sooner heard this extract from his own remarks than he fell back in his chair, and looked from the Jew to Charlotte with a countenance of ashy paleness and excessive terror.

"Don't mind me, my dear," said Fagin, drawing his chair closer. "Ha! ha! it was lucky it was only me that heard you by chance. It was very lucky it was only me."

"I didn't take it," stammered Noah, no longer stretching out his legs like an independent gentleman, but coiling them up as well as he could under his chair; "it was all her doing; yer've got it now, Charlotte, yer know yer have."

"No matter who's got it, or who did it, my dear," replied Fagin, glancing, nevertheless, with a hawk's eye at the girl and the two bundles. "I'm in that way myself, and I like you for it."

"In what way?" asked Mr. Claypole, a little recovering.

"In that way of business," rejoined Fagin; "and so are the people of the house. You've hit the right nail upon the head, and are as safe here as you could be. There is not a safer place in all this town than is the Cripples; that is, when I like to make it so. And I have taken a fancy to you and the young woman; so I've said the word, and you may make your minds easy."

Noah Claypole's mind might have been at ease after this assurance, but his body certainly was not; for he shuffled and writhed about, into various uncouth positions: eyeing his new friend meanwhile with mingled fear and suspicion.


Commentary:

Having been at Broadstairs on holiday during the summer months, Dickens skipped an instalment for Bentley's Miscellany in September, and thereby missed the opportunity to preview Cruikshank's work. Dickens edited out "the Jew" and replaced it with the name "Fagin" in 1867, but the caption endures as it is embedded in the engraving itself.

Part 18 of the novel as serialized in the illustrated monthly periodical edited by Dickens himself for the first two years of its existence, Bentley's Miscellany contained chapters 40 and 41, neither of which has an illustration; Part 19, contains chapters 42 and 43 — and a single illustration marking the meeting of Oliver's old nemesis, the spindly-legged Noah Claypole (who has robbed Sowerberry's till and fled to London with the Sowerberrys' maid, Charlotte) and Fagin, who has made his temporary headquarters at the disreputable public house known as The Three Cripples. Cruikshank realises the moment when Noah believes he has met a kindred spirit, a knowing denizen of the metropolis — just prior to Noah's becoming highly apprehensive when by chance Fagin asserts that making drinking such a beverage will require augmenting one's income by such illegal expedients as robbing the master's till.

Whereas Cruikshank enjoys the character comedy of country-bumpkin Noah's attempting to look as "knowing," as worldly wise as his new Hogarthian acquaintance, both Eytinge and Mahoney have realised the moment when Noah and Charlotte have travelled on foot far enough south to see the lights of London. In contrast to these "dark" scenes Harry Furniss has remodelled the Cruikshank plate. The setting is once again The Three Cripples in Little Saffron Hill, the part of London through which the Artful Dodger leads Oliver at the beginning of the book. The bundle that sturdy Charlotte has shouldered all the way to London now lies between the exploitative males, and Noah is again to the left of the table, satisfying his appetite, as he is in Mr. Claypole as he appeared when his master was out in chapter 27.

A much more amusing subject from this monthly part is the trial of Jack Dawkins as observed by "Morris Bolter," the alias which Fagin has given Noah Claypole now that he has joined the gang of pickpocketing gypsies — but only the Household Edition illustrator James Mahoney realizes this scene, "What is this?" Inquired one of the magistrates. "A pick-pocketing case, your worship", with the plucky, street-wise Jack, channeling the waggish Sam Weller of Dickens's previous novel, the Pickwick Papers, debating with the magistrate the validity of the British legal system and challenging the authority of the court since it violates his "rights" as an Englishman. Despite his delighting the onlookers in the courtroom, as he is an inveterate criminal, the magistrates sentence the Dodger to transportation in chapter 43. Incarcerated and thus sentenced, the Dodger is therefore no longer a useful tool for Fagin. Thus, coincidental arrival of Noah at this juncture is highly convenient as Fagin will shortly need somebody to follow Nancy whom Sikes's doxy does not already know.

Although a relatively minor character, in Dickens's text Noah has a distinctive drawl ('yer") that renders him instantly recognizable, just as Cruikshank has given him a unique form (long, thin legs and a head like a globe with a fringe of hair obscuring his forehead) that renders him unmistakable in his four appearances, three of which are with Charlotte, the vacuous housemaid infatuated with his irreverent and exploitative personality. Whereas Cruikshank provides visual continuity by placing Oliver as the eponymous character in fourteen illustrations (the majority of these being in the first half of the novel), the obnoxious Noah as his antagonistic double (a charity boy with an eye to the main chance) appears only four times, in plates accompanying chapters 6, 27, 42, and 46; these scenes contrast Noah's dishonesty and "smartness" with Oliver's fundamentally honest and sensitive way of coping with life's trials, for Noah, alternately cringing and posturing, is an example of both operant conditioning and Darwinian ethos — as, of course, are the Dodger (five appearances), Sikes (five appearances), Fagin (five appearances), and Charley Bates (four appearances). Whereas Noah is inherently a mean-spirited bully, Oliver is a noble, honourable, and sensitive underdog, possessing a strong sense of social justice. The characters most like him in nature are Mr. Brownlow (three appearances) and Rose Maylie (two appearances), so that Cruikshank's strategy is overwhelming contrast rather than comparison. With his distinctive profile, Oliver's image provides considerable visual continuity, and physically in terms of face and form Oliver like the other characters whom Cruikshank depicts changes little in face and body throughout the sequence of twenty-four illustrations, although unlike the other figures he does change in his clothing, signalling his changes in fortune as goes back and forth from the influences and milieus of Fagin and Bumble to those of Brownlow and Rose Maylie. To mark his rural origins, Cruikshank has exchanged Noah's regency fashions of his second appearance into an agricultural labourer's linen smockfrock in this and in his final appearance. Significantly, while Noah looks the same as he spies on Nancy in the succeeding illustration, set on the south stairs of New London Bridge, Nancy, activated by an awakening conscience, becomes more slender and more attractive as she transcends this social barrier by conveying vital information about Monks's machinations and appearance to Oliver's benefactors.




message 15: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5598 comments Mod


Noah and Charlotte

Chapter 42

Sol Eytinge Jr.

1867 Diamond Edition

Text Illustrated:

Thus, they had toiled along the dusty road, taking little heed of any object within sight, save when they stepped aside to allow a wider passage for the mail-coaches which were whirling out of town, until they passed through Highgate archway; when the foremost traveller stopped and called impatiently to his companion.

"Come on, can't yer? What a lazybones yer are, Charlotte."

"It's a heavy load, I can tell you," said the female, coming up, almost breathless with fatigue.

"Heavy! What are yer talking about? What are yer made for?" rejoined the male traveller, changing his own little bundle as he spoke, to the other shoulder. "Oh, there yer are, resting again! Well, if yer ain't enough to tire anybody's patience out, I don't know what is!"

"Is it much farther?" asked the woman, resting herself against a bank, and looking up with the perspiration streaming from her face.

"Much farther! Yer as good as there," said the long-legged tramper, pointing out before him. "Look there! Those are the lights of London."

"They're a good two mile off, at least,' said the woman despondingly.

"Never mind whether they're two mile off, or twenty," said Noah Claypole; for he it was; "but get up and come on, or I'll kick yer, and so I give yer notice."

As Noah's red nose grew redder with anger, and as he crossed the road while speaking, as if fully prepared to put his threat into execution, the woman rose without any further remark, and trudged onward by his side.

"Where do you mean to stop for the night, Noah?" she asked, after they had walked a few hundred yards.

"How should I know?" replied Noah, whose temper had been considerably impaired by walking.


Commentary:

Having made off with the contents of Sowerberry's cash-register, the surly apprentice Noah Claypole and the Sowerberrys' former housemaid, Charlotte, follow the high road down to London as Oliver did earlier. Their arrival in the criminal underworld of the metropolis proves fortunate for Fagin, who requires somebody unfamiliar to Nancy to follow her. Eytinge depicts Noah as hectoring and exploitative, and Charlotte as a mere beast of burden. Both exhibit the effects of nemesis as they are already worrying about Sowerberry's apprehending them for theft.

Whereas Cruikshank enjoys the character comedy of country-bumpkin Noah's attempting to look as "knowing," as worldly wise as his new Hogarthian acquaintance, both Sol Eytinge and James Mahoney have realised the moment when Noah and Charlotte, exhausted and footsore — and quite fed up with one another — see the lights of London in the distance. In contrast to these "dark" scenes Harry Furniss has remodelled the Cruikshank plate. The setting is once again The Three Cripples in Little Saffron Hill, the part of London through which the Artful Dodger leads Oliver at the beginning of the book. The bundle that sturdy Charlotte has shouldered all the way to London now lies between the exploitative males, and Noah is again to the left of the table, satisfying his appetite, as he is in Mr. Claypole as he appeared when his master was out in chapter 27.

Eytinge depicts Noah and Charlotte as a species of Industrial Age Punch and Judy, with Noah's small burden and upright posture contrast the bent-over figure of Charlotte, labouring under a much larger burden. Gone are Noah's fashionable regency clothes, replaced by a carter's white linen smock-frock that extends past his waist. That the two are apparently suffering from the rigours of the journal but from each other's company would seem to the nineteenth-century reader, whether American or British, to assert the power of Poetic Justice. Eytinge makes the heavy Charlotte puffy and breathless, the spindly-legged Noah belligerent and red-nosed; in other words, Eytinge renders them without sympathy.


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"Look there! Those are the lights of London."

Chapter 42

James Mahoney

1871 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

Thus, they had toiled along the dusty road, taking little heed of any object within sight, save when they stepped aside to allow a wider passage for the mail-coaches which were whirling out of town, until they passed through Highgate archway; when the foremost traveller stopped and called impatiently to his companion.

"Come on, can't yer? What a lazybones yer are, Charlotte."

"It's a heavy load, I can tell you," said the female, coming up, almost breathless with fatigue.

"Heavy! What are yer talking about? What are yer made for?" rejoined the male traveller, changing his own little bundle as he spoke, to the other shoulder. "Oh, there yer are, resting again! Well, if yer ain't enough to tire anybody's patience out, I don't know what is!"

"Is it much farther?" asked the woman, resting herself against a bank, and looking up with the perspiration streaming from her face.

"Much farther! Yer as good as there," said the long-legged tramper, pointing out before him. "Look there! Those are the lights of London."

"They're a good two mile off, at least,' said the woman despondingly.

"Never mind whether they're two mile off, or twenty," said Noah Claypole; for he it was; "but get up and come on, or I'll kick yer, and so I give yer notice."

As Noah's red nose grew redder with anger, and as he crossed the road while speaking, as if fully prepared to put his threat into execution, the woman rose without any further remark, and trudged onward by his side.

"Where do you mean to stop for the night, Noah?" she asked, after they had walked a few hundred yards.

"How should I know?" replied Noah, whose temper had been considerably impaired by walking.


Commentary:

"Look there! Those are the lights of London." — James Mahoney's illustration of the reprobates Charlotte and Noah Claypole as they reach outskirts of north London in Chapter 42, a re-injection of these characters into the action which prepares readers of the Household Edition for Noah Claypole's assuming a position of trust with Fagin as "Morris Bolter" (Fagin's nickname for him derived from his having made off with the contents of Sowerberry's cash-register, in company with the Sowerberrys' former housemaid, Charlotte). In the original narrative-pictorial serial sequence by George Cruikshank in Bentley's Miscellany, the periodical reader encountered instead the pair sharing a beverage with the canny Fagin as he secures the services of "Morris Bolter" (otherwise, Noah Claypole) to steal coins from children running errands for their parents.


Whereas Cruikshank enjoys the character comedy of country-bumpkin Noah's attempting to look as "knowing," as worldly wise as his new Hogarthian acquaintance, both Sol Eytinge and James Mahoney have realised the moment when Noah and Charlotte, exhausted and footsore — and quite fed up with one another — see the lights of London in the distance. In contrast to these "dark" scenes Harry Furniss has remodelled the Cruikshank plate in Fagin and Noah understand each other in Chapter 42. The setting is once again The Three Cripples in Little Saffron Hill, the part of London through which the Artful Dodger leads Oliver at the beginning of the book. The bundle that sturdy Charlotte has shouldered all the way to London now lies between the exploitative males, and Noah is again to the left of the table, satisfying his appetite, as he is in Mr. Claypole as he appeared when his master was out in chapter 27.

Eytinge depicts Noah and Charlotte as a species of Industrial Age Punch and Judy, with Noah's small burden and upright posture contrasting the bent-over figure of Charlotte, labouring under a much larger burden. Gone are Noah's fashionable regency clothes, replaced by a carter's white linen smock-frock that extends past his waist. That the two are apparently suffering not so much from the rigours of the journey south as from each other's company would seem to the nineteenth-century reader, whether American or British, to assert the power of Poetic Justice. Eytinge makes the heavy Charlotte puffy and breathless, the spindly-legged Noah belligerent and red-nosed; in other words, Eytinge renders them without sympathy, whereas Mahoney makes Charlotte far more attractive physically, and much better dressed.

Mahoney depicts them as just another young couple, down on their luck, seeking their fortune in the metropolis. Noah, dressed as a carter in a linen smock-frock (a disguise that in fact he acquires only once he has agreed to attend the trial of the Artful Dodger), points towards the lights of London on the horizon as he chastises Charlotte, resting for a moment, but her gigantic pack on her back still on her back. Without an accompanying text, the reader can be forgiven if he or she does not recognize the figures of the scene at the Sowerberrys' home 140 pages earlier, the distressed Charlotte rushing into the kitchen, left, and the craven Noah lying on the floor, centre, his face turned towards Oliver and necessarily away from the reader, in Oliver rather astonishes Noah in Chapter 5. In the interval, Charlotte has matured into an attractive young woman (if one may credit Mahoney's interpretation of her), but Noah is still the same surly boy and whining, cajoling bully — indeed, more a distinct voice than a readily identifiable image.


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Fagin and Noah understand each other

Chapter 42

Harry Furniss

1910 Library Edition

Text Illustrated:

Mr. Claypole looked into the porter-pot with an aspect of deep wisdom; and having well shaken its contents, nodded condescendingly to Charlotte, and took a draught, wherewith he appeared greatly refreshed. He was meditating another, when the sudden opening of the door, and the appearance of a stranger, interrupted him.

The stranger was Mr. Fagin. And very amiable he looked, and a very low bow he made, as he advanced, and setting himself down at the nearest table, ordered something to drink of the grinning Barney.

"A pleasant night, sir, but cool for the time of year," said Fagin, rubbing his hands. "From the country, I see, sir?"

How do yer see that?" asked Noah Claypole.

"We have not so much dust as that in London," replied Fagin, pointing from Noah's shoes to those of his companion, and from them to the two bundles.

"Yer a sharp feller," said Noah. "Ha! ha! only hear that, Charlotte!"

"Why, one need be sharp in this town, my dear," replied the Jew, sinking his voice to a confidential whisper; "and that's the truth."

Fagin followed up this remark by striking the side of his nose with his right forefinger, — a gesture which Noah attempted to imitate, though not with complete success, in consequence of his own nose not being large enough for the purpose. However, Mr. Fagin seemed to interpret the endeavour as expressing a perfect coincidence with his opinion, and put about the liquor which Barney reappeared with, in a very friendly manner.

"Good stuff that," observed Mr. Claypole, smacking his lips.

"Dear!" said Fagin. "A man need be always emptying a till, or a pocket, or a woman's reticule, or a house, or a mail-coach, or a bank, if he drinks it regularly."

Mr. Claypole no sooner heard this extract from his own remarks than he fell back in his chair, and looked from the Jew to Charlotte with a countenance of ashy paleness and excessive terror.

"Don't mind me, my dear," said Fagin, drawing his chair closer. "Ha! ha! it was lucky it was only me that heard you by chance. It was very lucky it was only me."

"I didn't take it," stammered Noah, no longer stretching out his legs like an independent gentleman, but coiling them up as well as he could under his chair; "it was all her doing; yer've got it now, Charlotte, yer know yer have."

"No matter who's got it, or who did it, my dear," replied Fagin, glancing, nevertheless, with a hawk's eye at the girl and the two bundles. "I'm in that way myself, and I like you for it."

"In what way?" asked Mr. Claypole, a little recovering.

"In that way of business," rejoined Fagin; "and so are the people of the house. You've hit the right nail upon the head, and are as safe here as you could be. There is not a safer place in all this town than is the Cripples; that is, when I like to make it so. And I have taken a fancy to you and the young woman; so I've said the word, and you may make your minds easy."

Noah Claypole's mind might have been at ease after this assurance, but his body certainly was not; for he shuffled and writhed about, into various uncouth positions: eyeing his new friend meanwhile with mingled fear and suspicion.


Commentary:

Although a relatively minor character, in Dickens's text Noah has a distinctive drawl ('yer") that renders him instantly recognizable, just as Cruikshank has given him a unique form (long, thin legs and a head like a globe with a fringe of hair obscuring his forehead) that renders him unmistakable in his four appearances, three of which are with Charlotte, the vacuous housemaid infatuated with his irreverent and exploitative personality. However, in Furniss's version Charlotte seems much more alert and much more astutely following the conversation than her drunken companion.

In the original serial illustrations, Oliver now disappears, only to re-emerge in the so-called "cancelled illustration" — Oliver and His Family — The Fireside Plate — and the plate which Dickens requested to replace it, Rose Maylie and Oliver — The Church Plate. In the Household Edition, James Mahoney does not realise the meeting of the runaways and the master criminal, although he does show the arrival of Noah and Clarlotte on the outskirts of London in "Look there! Those are the lights of London" in Chapter 42 before shifting the reader's attention momentarily from the doomed relationship between Nancy and Sikes to the Dodger's being sentenced to transportation in "What is this?" inquired one of the magistrates. — "A pick-pocketing case, Your Worship" in Chapter 43, with Noah Claypole, a new hire in the gang and therefore unknown to the police (disguised as a countryman in a linen smock-frock and holding a carter's whip) observes the proceedings on behalf of Fagin. In contrast, Frederic W. Pailthorpe's in his 1886 series of twenty-one engravings moves directly to Sikes's grisly crime in The Foul Deed, not actually showig the scene in which Nancy rendezvous with Rose Maylie and Mr. Brownlow at London Bridge.

In terms of Furniss's characterisations, Noah is the least consistent with other illustrators' interpretations: although this Noah has the comic, spindly legs that are a consequence of his poor diet growing up, his hat hides the hairstyle given him by Cruikshank, and the thick neck seems odd — the emphasized, pointed red nose is, one presumes, a cue to his alcoholism. He is, indeed, as in the Kerslake and Robson Edition of 1886, illustrated by Frederic W. Pailthorpe, namely Noah running for Mr. Bumble. Already, he has abandoned his yellow smalls as he has abandoned his former identity to become "Morris Bolter" (as Fagin has nicknamed him, a pseudonym that implies Noah's having "run off" from Mudfog) in an oversized linen smock-frock that exaggerates his girth.


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"What is this?" inquired one of the magistrares. - "A pick-pocketing case, Your Worship."

Chapter 43

James Mahoney

1871 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

It was indeed Mr. Dawkins, who, shuffling into the office with the big coat sleeves tucked up as usual, his left hand in his pocket, and his hat in his right hand, preceded the jailer, with a rolling gait altogether indescribable, and, taking his place in the dock, requested in an audible voice to know what he was placed in that 'ere disgraceful sitivation for.

"Hold your tongue, will you?" said the jailer.

"I'm an Englishman, ain't I?" rejoined the Dodger. "Where are my priwileges?"

"You'll get your privileges soon enough," retorted the jailer, "and pepper with 'em."

"We'll see wot the Secretary of State for the Home Affairs has got to say to the beaks, if I don't," replied Mr. Dawkins. "Now then! Wot is this here business? I shall thank the madg'strates to dispose of this here little affair, and not to keep me while they read the paper, for I've got an appointment with a genelman in the City, and as I'm a man of my word, and wery punctual in business matters, he'll go away if I ain't there to my time, and then pr'aps there won't be an action for damage against them as kep me away. Oh no, certainly not!"

At this point, the Dodger, with a show of being very particular with a view to proceedings to be had thereafter, desired the jailer to communicate "the names of them two files as was on the bench." Which so tickled the spectators, that they laughed almost as heartily as Master Bates could have done if he had heard the request.

"Silence there!" cried the jailer.

"What is this?" inquired one of the magistrates.

"A pick-pocketing case, your worship."

"Has the boy ever been here before?"

"He ought to have been, a many times," replied the jailer. "He has been pretty well everywhere else. I know him well, your worship."

"Oh! you know me, do you?" cried the Artful, making a note of the statement. "Wery good. That's a case of deformation of character, any way."

Here there was another laugh, and another cry of silence.

"Now then, where are the witnesses?" said the clerk.

"Ah! that's right," added the Dodger. "Where are they? I should like to see 'em."


Commentary:

To think of Jack Dawkins — lummy Jack — the Dodger — the Artful Dodger — going abroad for a common twopenny-halfpenny sneeze-box! I never thought he'd a done it under a gold watch, chain, and seals, at the lowest. Oh, why didn't he rob some rich old gentleman of all his walables, and go out as a gentleman, and not like a common prig, without no honour nor glory!" [Chapter 43]

Although Fagin directs a string of street gypsies, the only two who stand out are the quick-witted pickpocket Jack Dawkins (otherwise, "The Artful Dodger," a sobriquet doubtless conferred by Fagin himself) and Charley Bates, far more benign and facetious figures than Fagin's chief criminal associate, the burglar Bill Sikes. The indefatigable Jack Dawkins, is tried for stealing a silver snuff-box, and in Chapter 43 is sentenced to criminal transportation, despite a vociferous and witty Cockney defense in which he tries to put the court itself on trial. For all his wit and "artfulness," Dawkins is sentenced to transportation for life to New South Wales, Britain's antipodean penal colony.

Transportation had ceased to be a sanction against British criminals in 1849, although many colonists in 1840 were under the impression that an Order in Council was sufficient to have revoked transportation, originally introduced as early as 1597 (to the Carolinas) and rejigged in 1788 (after the conclusion of the American Revolution) as an enlightened mode of relieving the crowding in British prisons. As Dawkins notes in the court, as part of Britain's penal system, transportation was in the portfolio of the Secretary of State for the Home Affairs. In the 1840s, Dickens in collaboration with heiress and humanitarian Angela Burdett-Coutts actively encouraged the reformed prostitutes of Urania Cottage to re-settle in Australia as productive daughters of empire who would marry prosperous ranchers, herders, and farmers. Two of Dickens's own sons (long after his writing Oliver Twist, Alfred in 1865 and Edward in 1868, having few prospects in England, took up sheep farming in the Outback, and Dickens had contemplated making a reading tour Down Under in 1862.

Mahoney's illustration focuses on the swaggering figure of The Dodger, looking for all the world like a miniature adult in coat and vest as he stands beside the uniformed jailer in the dock. The picture has the virtue of verisimilitude in terms of the juxtaposition of the various participants in the trial, including the public in the galleries (right), and the magistrate and court recorders (left). The conspicuous figure in the right foreground, his face turned away from the viewer and towards The Dodger, is undoubtedly Noah, identifiable by his linen smock-frock. Compare the clothing and face of the pickpocket here to Mahoney's handling of him in "What's become of the boy?". Although as self-confident and self-assured as The Dodgers of Mahoney and Eytinge, Furniss's youth seems to be a handsome, well-coiffed, fashionably dressed young adult rather than a pre-pubescent waif in cast-off adult clothing.


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The Artful Dodger before the Magistrates

Chapter 43

Harry Furniss

1910 Library Edition

Text Illustrated:

Here there was another laugh, and another cry of silence.

"Now then, where are the witnesses?" said the clerk.

"Ah! that's right," added the Dodger. "Where are they? I should like to see 'em."

This wish was immediately gratified, for a policeman stepped forward who had seen the prisoner attempt the pocket of an unknown gentleman in a crowd, and indeed take a handkerchief therefrom, which, being a very old one, he deliberately put back again, after trying it on his own countenance. For this reason, he took the Dodger into custody as soon as he could get near him, and the said Dodger, being searched, had upon his person a silver snuff-box, with the owner's name engraved upon the lid. This gentleman had been discovered on reference to the Court Guide, and being then and there present, swore that the snuff-box was his, and that he had missed it on the previous day, the moment he had disengaged himself from the crowd before referred to. He had also remarked a young gentleman in the throng, particularly active in making his way about, and that young gentleman was the prisoner before him.

"Have you anything to ask this witness, boy?" said the magistrate.

"I wouldn't abase myself by descending to hold no conversation with him," replied the Dodger.

"Have you anything to say at all?"

"Do you hear his worship ask if you've anything to say?" inquired the jailer, nudging the silent Dodger with his elbow.

"I beg your pardon," said the Dodger, looking up with an air of abstraction. "Did you redress yourself to me, my man?"

"I never see such an out-and-out young wagabond, your worship," observed the officer with a grin. "Do you mean to say anything, you young shaver?"

"No," replied the Dodger, "not here, for this ain't the shop for justice: besides which, my attorney is a-breakfasting this morning with the Wice President of the House of Commons; but I shall have something to say elsewhere, and so will he, and so will a wery numerous and 'spectable circle of acquaintance as'll make them beaks wish they'd never been born, or that they'd got their footmen to hang 'em up to their own hat-pegs, 'afore they let 'em come out this morning to try it on upon me. I'll —"

"There! He's fully committed!" interposed the clerk. "Take him away."


Commentary:

Furniss's pickpocket, like Mahoney's in the 1871 Household Edition, casually challenges the authority of the magistrate's court; in the text, Noah Claypole, a new hire in the gang and therefore unknown to the police (disguised as a countryman in a linen smock-frock and holding a carter's whip in the Household Edition wood-engraving) observes the proceedings on behalf of Fagin. He does not, however, appear among the eleven observers of the scene in the Furniss illustration, which focuses on the Dodger by lightly sketching in the background characters, including the court-recorder and the magistrates in their beaver hats. Dickens and Cruikshank had elected to focus the reader's attention instead on the scene in which Fagin enlists the assistance of the fatuous Noah Claypole, recently fled to London with the Sowerberrys' maid, Charlotte, in The Jew & Morris Both begin to understand each other (Part 19, November 1838) in Chapter 42, "An old Acquaintance of Oliver's, exhibiting decided marks of Genius, becomes a public Character in the Metropolis." This scene, however, does mark the departure of that unique Cockney voice from the text as the Artful Dodger is sentenced to transportation Down Under.

Furniss sets up the composition strategically with the youthful, witty, self-confident petty thief (rather more nattily dressed than in other illustrators' conceptions) dominating the plate by virtue of the strong, diagonal lines of his figure and his central position, with the heads of nine old men (both bystanders and court officials), Furniss does not clearly establish the perspective as that of Noah Claypole. Bayed about by old heads representative of the establishment, some affronted and some smirking, the Dodger, hand in trouser pocket and smile fearlessly directed towards the uniformed officer (left), is not cowed by the authorities who now judge him. But his clothes fit too smartly, and he is hardly the disreputable figure that one sees in other programs of illustration for the novel. Whereas the 1871 wood-engraving by Mahoney focuses on the earlier part of the hearing, Furniss realises the latter part of the trial, in which the prisoner has the opportunity to question the witness regarding his testimony about the theft of the snuff-box. At this point, that The Artful Dodger will shortly become a transported felon is a foregone conclusion.


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The Meeting

Chapter 46

George Cruikshank

Text Illustrated:

That night, and the next, and the next again, the spy sat booted and equipped in his carter's dress: ready to turn out at a word from Fagin. Six nights passed — six long weary nights — and on each, Fagin came home with a disappointed face, and briefly intimated that it was not yet time. On the seventh, he returned earlier, and with an exultation he could not conceal. It was Sunday.

"She goes abroad to-night," said Fagin, "and on the right errand, I'm sure; for she has been alone all day, and the man she is afraid of will not be back much before daybreak. Come with me. Quick!" [Chapter 45, "Noah Claypole is Employed by Fagin on a Secret Mission,"]

. . . . They walked onward, looking about them with the air of persons who entertained some very slight expectation which had little chance of being realised, when they were suddenly joined by this new associate. They halted with an exclamation of surprise, but suppressed it immediately; for a man in the garments of a countryman came close up — brushed against them, indeed — at that precise moment.

"Not here," said Nancy hurriedly, "I am afraid to speak to you here. Come away — out of the public road — down the steps yonder!"

As she uttered these words, and indicated, with her hand, the direction in which she wished them to proceed, the countryman looked round, and roughly asking what they took up the whole pavement for, passed on.

The steps to which the girl had pointed, were those which, on the Surrey bank, and on the same side of the bridge as Saint Saviour's Church, form a landing-stairs from the river. To this spot, the man bearing the appearance of a countryman, hastened unobserved; and after a moment's survey of the place, he began to descend.

These stairs are a part of the bridge; they consist of three flights. Just below the end of the second, going down, the stone wall on the left terminates in an ornamental pilaster facing towards the Thames. At this point the lower steps widen: so t hat a person turning that angle of the wall, is necessarily unseen by any others on the stairs who chance to be above him, if only a step. The countryman looked hastily round, when he reached this point; and as there seemed no better place of concealment, and, the tide being out, there was plenty of room, he slipped aside, with his back to the pilaster, and there waited: pretty certain that they would come no lower, and that even if he could not hear what was said, he could follow them again, with safety.

So tardily stole the time in this lonely place, and so eager was the spy to penetrate the motives of an interview so different from what he had been led to expect, that he more than once gave the matter up for lost, and persuaded himself, either that they had stopped far above, or had resorted to some entirely different spot to hold their mysterious conversation. He was on the point of emerging from his hiding-place, and regaining the road above, when he heard the sound of footsteps, and directly afterwards of voices almost close at his ear.

He drew himself straight upright against the wall, and, scarcely breathing, listened attentively.

"This is far enough,' said a voice, which was evidently that of the gentleman. 'I will not suffer the young lady to go any farther. Many people would have distrusted you too much to have come even so far, but you see I am willing to humour you."


Commentary:

To heighten the suspense of the clandestine meeting, the 1868 stage adaptation at the Lyceum substituted Bill Sikes and Fagin for Noah Claypole in this critical scene, which was the basis for the theatre's promotional poster, which alludes to Franklin Dyall as Sikes, and Mary Merrall as Nancy. The new, wider bridge designed by John Rennie to accommodate increased traffic was itself torn down in 1968. The plate's setting, carefully reproduced in the stage set as the poster, is now thousands of miles from England as "Nancy's Steps" from the Surrey side, like the rest of New London Bridge, have since 1973 been in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, transported and reassembled stone by stone.

In the celebrated 1838 illustration, Cruikshank realises the moment when, having tracked Nancy across the East End, Noah overhears Sikes's mistress disclosing the plans laid by Fagin and Monks to ensure that Oliver will never come into his inheritance. The boat somewhat improbably perched on the upper stairs (left) suggests that the scene occurs by a river, and the trio bend their heads together as the respectably dressed Brownlow and Rose with rapt attention listen to Nancy as she gestures, their postures repeated in the attentive stance, head leaning in, of Fagin's spy, Noah Claypole (right). The illustration captures the attentiveness of the listeners, but fails to convey Nancy's extreme agitation, as she imagines Sikes exacting retribution for her betrayal of the gang.

Although Cruikshank enjoys placing the essential comic character, Noah, in this deadly serious scene, foregrounding him as the rapt listener, "Morris Bolter" (the alias which Fagin has bestowed upon Noah), may not accord entirely with the tense atmosphere of the scene as described by Dickens. Noah grips his hat and stick to prevent inconveniently dropping them as he turns his attention entirely to overhearing the dialogue between Nancy and the two respectably dressed "coves". Having reported what he has overheard to Fagin and Sikes back in their lair (including Nancy's having drugged her common-law husband), Claypole seals Nancy's fate.

Cruikshank's illustration amalgamates figures from the middle-class and Newgate plots, and also incorporates the charity boy from the very beginning of the story; by implication, Fagin, Monks, Sikes, and Oliver are present since they are very much on the minds of the three characters depicted. Dickens's original readers must have welcomed the physical setting of the scene as the story now enters their world, the geographical milieu of the City, under the bridge completed only seven years earlier, a recognizable feature of the cityscape that brings the fictional world of Oliver into the real world of the 1830s.

Whereas Harry Furniss in his 1910 lithograph offers a reworking of this famous scene, the 1870s Household Edition illustrator James Mahoney builds up the suspense by focussing on Nancy's shadow, the amazingly adept spy "Morris Bolter," still dressed in his countryman's linen smock-frock. Instead of realizing "The Meeting," the Household Edition illustrator depicts "Morris" at ground level on London Bridge as Nancy (upper right) awaits the arrival of Mr. Brownlow and Rose Maylie (upper right), his perspective shifting from The hunted to the hunter, so to speak. In "When she was about the same distance in advance as she had been before, he slipped quietly down, and followed her again", Mahoney eschews comedy entirely. Clearly for Mahoney the creation of atmosphere and the sustaining of suspense are more important than trying to outdo the original illustrator's handling of the meeting.

Whereas Cruikshank provides visual continuity by placing Oliver as the eponymous character in fourteen of the twenty-four monthly illustrations (the majority of these being in the first half of the novel), Mahoney depicts Oliver in only ten of the twenty-eight wood-engravings, Sikes and Fagin appear in five each, and Mahoney has signalled the importance of Monks by placing him in the only full-page cut, the frontispiece and a further three times. Often Mahoney subordinates such lesser figures as Noah to the setting, thereby emphasizing the importance of the figures whose faces we do see.

In Furniss's illustration, a curious Noah peers around a pillar to observe the meeting, the illustrator signalling Nancy's agitation by depicting her dress almost in motion, while Rose's dress is perfectly still. Goggle-eyed, Noah carries the carter's whip that Mahoney gave him in the 1871 illustration. The arches of the bridge now dominate the scene, and one has little sense of the landing-stairs as Furniss has moved in, as it were, for a closeup.




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"When she was about the same distance in advance as she had been before, he slipped quietly down."

Chapter 46

James Mahoney

1871 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

That night, and the next, and the next again, the spy sat booted and equipped in his carter's dress: ready to turn out at a word from Fagin. Six nights passed — six long weary nights — and on each, Fagin came home with a disappointed face, and briefly intimated that it was not yet time. On the seventh, he returned earlier, and with an exultation he could not conceal. It was Sunday.

"She goes abroad to-night," said Fagin, "and on the right errand, I'm sure; for she has been alone all day, and the man she is afraid of will not be back much before daybreak. Come with me. Quick!" [Chapter 45, "Noah Claypole is Employed by Fagin on a Secret Mission,"]

. . . . They walked onward, looking about them with the air of persons who entertained some very slight expectation which had little chance of being realised, when they were suddenly joined by this new associate. They halted with an exclamation of surprise, but suppressed it immediately; for a man in the garments of a countryman came close up — brushed against them, indeed — at that precise moment.

"Not here," said Nancy hurriedly, "I am afraid to speak to you here. Come away — out of the public road — down the steps yonder!"

As she uttered these words, and indicated, with her hand, the direction in which she wished them to proceed, the countryman looked round, and roughly asking what they took up the whole pavement for, passed on.

[Chapter 46, "The Appointment Kept,"]


Commentary:

"When she was about the same distance in advance as she had been before, he slipped quietly down." — James Mahoney's wholly original illustration of Noah Claypole's following Nancy to her appointment with Mr. Brownlow and Rose Maylie on the water-stairs of New London Bridge, one of the most memorable scenes by George Cruikshank in Bentley's Miscellany, whose December 1838 number included not one but two illustrations, The Meeting and an earlier illustration not previously published serially (although Dickens had used it in the November 1838 Bentley triple-decker), The Evidence Destroyed. The readers of the Household Edition find an illustration that indicates Noah, in his countryman's disguise, trailing Nancy to London Bridge, but does not indicate clearly whom she is meeting. In the original narrative-pictorial serial sequence, the periodical reader encountered instead Nancy, Rose, and Brownlow being overheard — somewhat theatrically, in the manner of a scene from melodrama — by "Morris Bolter," Fagin's confidential agent, so that the source of the suspense is not whom Nancy is meeting, but rather what intelligence she is communicating — and what Fagin's reaction will be when hears about this clandestine meeting. The Mahoney illustration of Noah on London Bridge occurs at the end of Chapter 44 and the beginning of Chapter 45 ("Noah Claypole is Employed by Fagin on a Secret Mission"), three pages before the textual passage in Chapter 46 ("The Appointment Kept"). 1871.
Whereas Harry Furniss in his 1910 lithograph offers a reworking of this famous scene, the 1870s Household Edition illustrator James Mahoney builds up the suspense by focussing on Nancy's shadow, the amazingly adept spy "Morris Bolter," still dressed in his countryman's linen smock-frock given him by Fagin as a disguise to wear at the magistrate's court to observe the trial of The Artful Dodger in Chapter 44. Instead of realizing "The Meeting," however, the Household Edition illustrator depicts "Morris" on the deck of new London Bridge as Nancy (upper right) awaits the arrival of two indistinct figures — Mr. Brownlow and Rose Maylie (upper right); thus, Mahoney shifts his perspective from the hunted to the hunter, so to speak. Mahoney carefully costumes Noah in the outfit given him by Fagin in Chapter 43: "a waggoner's frock, velveteen breeches, and leather leggings. . . a felt hat garnished with turnpike tickets; and a carter's whip". In When she was about the same distance in advance as she had been before, he slipped quietly down, and followed her again, Mahoney eschews comedy in order to create suspense. Clearly for Mahoney the creation of atmosphere and the sustaining of suspense are more important than trying to outdo the original illustrator's handling of the meeting on the water-steps. Placed ahead of the chapters in which "Morris" receives and carries out his commission, the illustration telegraphs to the reader in advance of the textual moment the next "job" that Noah will undertake for Fagin.

Often Mahoney subordinates such lesser figures as Noah to the setting, thereby emphasizing the importance of the figures whose faces we do see. The visual continuity of Noah's disguise (the illustrator emphasizes his felt bowler hat, derived from the original Cruikshank illustration The Meeting) in both the courtroom scene and this is a significant signal to the reader that the newcomer is acting as Fagin's eyes and ears, both at The Dodger's trial and here at London Bridge. Consequently, the presence of the costume is a visual reminder of Fagin's giving Morris the commission, and the illustration sets up the reader's expectations about how Fagin will react when he learns of the meeting, and what the consequences will be for Nancy in her apparent betrayal of the gang.

In Furniss's illustration The Meeting under London Bridge (see below), derived very much from Cruikshank's, a curious Noah peers around a pillar to observe the clandestine meeting, the illustrator implying Nancy's agitation by depicting her dress almost in motion, while that of Rose is perfectly still. Goggle-eyed, Noah carries the carter's whip that Mahoney gave him in the 1871 illustration, based on Dickens's text. The arches of the bridge now dominate the scene, and one has little sense of the landing-stairs as Furniss has moved in, as it were, for a closeup.

None of this detailing is evident in the Mahoney illustration, which foregrounds Noah and therefore creates the sense that the reader, too, is following Nancy through the great city after dark. We see her but indistinctly, in the distance, so that (were we unfamiliar with the story) we would wonder whether Noah will lose track of her in the darkness. The effect then is wholly realistic, without even a hint of the character comedy implicit in Cruikshank's conception of "Morris Bolter," private eye. Flaring gaslights in the distance establish the aerial perspective; presumably "Morris" is standing under such a lamp, for his smock-frock and hand on the parapet are highlighted, aas is a portion of the kennel in the foreground.


message 22: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5598 comments Mod


The meeting under London bridge

Chapter 46

Harry Furniss

1910 Library Edition

Text Illustrated:

So tardily stole the time in this lonely place, and so eager was the spy to penetrate the motives of an interview so different from what he had been led to expect, that he more than once gave the matter up for lost, and persuaded himself, either that they had stopped far above, or had resorted to some entirely different spot to hold their mysterious conversation. He was on the point of emerging from his hiding-place, and regaining the road above, when he heard the sound of footsteps, and directly afterwards of voices almost close at his ear.

He drew himself straight upright against the wall, and, scarcely breathing, listened attentively.

"This is far enough," said a voice, which was evidently that of the gentleman. 'I will not suffer the young lady to go any farther. Many people would have distrusted you too much to have come even so far, but you see I am willing to humour you."

‘I think I do," said the gentleman, breaking silence. "I should by your description. We shall see. Many people are singularly like each other. It may not be the same."

As he expressed himself to this effect, with assumed carelessness, he took a step or two nearer the concealed spy, as the latter could tell from the distinctness with which he heard him mutter, "It must be he!"

"Now," he said, returning: so it seemed by the sound: to the spot where he had stood before, "you have given us most valuable assistance, young woman, and I wish you to be the better for it. What can I do to serve you?"

"Nothing," replied Nancy.

"You will not persist in saying that," rejoined the gentleman, with a voice and emphasis of kindness that might have touched a much harder and more obdurate heart. "Think now. Tell me."

"Nothing, sir," rejoined the girl, weeping. "You can do nothing to help me. I am past all hope, indeed."

"You put yourself beyond its pale," said the gentleman. "The past has been a dreary waste with you, of youthful energies mis-spent, and such priceless treasures lavished, as the Creator bestows but once and never grants again, but, for the future, you may hope. I do not say that it is in our power to offer you peace of heart and mind, for that must come as you seek it; but a quiet asylum, either in England, or, if you fear to remain here, in some foreign country, it is not only within the compass of our ability but our most anxious wish to secure you. Before the dawn of morning, before this river wakes to the first glimpse of day-light, you shall be placed as entirely beyond the reach of your former associates, and leave as utter an absence of all trace behind you, as if you were to disappear from the earth this moment. Come! I would not have you go back to exchange one word with any old companion, or take one look at any old haunt, or breathe the very air which is pestilence and death to you. Quit them all, while there is time and opportunity!"

"She will be persuaded now," cried the young lady. "She hesitates, I am sure."

"I fear not, my dear," said the gentleman.

"No sir, I do not," replied the girl, after a short struggle. "I am chained to my old life. I loathe and hate it now, but I cannot leave it. I must have gone too far to turn back, — and yet I don’t know, for if you had spoken to me so, some time ago, I should have laughed it off. But," she said, looking hastily round, "this fear comes over me again. I must go home."

"Home!" repeated the young lady, with great stress upon the word.

"Home, lady," rejoined the girl. "To such a home as I have raised for myself with the work of my whole life. Let us part. I shall be watched or seen. Go! Go! If I have done you any service all I ask is, that you leave me, and let me go my way alone."

"It is useless," said the gentleman, with a sigh. "We compromise her safety, perhaps, by staying here. We may have detained her longer than she expected already."

"Yes, yes," urged the girl. "You have."

"What," cried the young lady, "can be the end of this poor creature’s life!"

"What!" repeated the girl. "Look before you, lady. Look at that dark water. How many times do you read of such as I who spring into the tide, and leave no living thing, to care for, or bewail them. It may be years hence, or it may be only months, but I shall come to that at last."

"Do not speak thus, pray," returned the young lady, sobbing.


Commentary:


In the celebrated 1838 illustration, Cruikshank realises the moment when, having tracked Nancy across the East End, Noah overhears Sikes's mistress disclosing the plans laid by Fagin and Monks to ensure that Oliver will never come into his inheritance. In Furniss's sequence. This serious scene follows the comic interlude in which, again with Noah as witness to the proceedings, the Artful Dodger is arraigned for petty larceny in the Magistrate's court — The Artful Dodger before the Magistrates (Chapter 43). In the third volume of the Household Edition, James Mahoney in 1871 had taken a different approach by showing a disguised Noah shadowing Nancy across London Bridge rather than actually overhearing the conversation on the stairs. Thus, Mahoney builds suspense through When she was about the same distance in advance as she had been before, he slipped quietly down, focussing on the foregrounded spy in disguise, and positioning Nancy in the distance on the bridge deck (rear), and thereby avoiding the scene already realized by Cruikshank.

In Furniss's illustration, the caption points to a later moment in the interview when, fearing detection, Nancy determines to return to the brutal burglar who frequently abuses her. Again, Rose is shocked at Nancy's predicament, but Mr. Brownlow tries to make the privileged young woman from the suburbs understand that Nancy as a girl of streets has few options. Thus, the caption in Furniss's illustration points towards Nancy's terrible fate at the hands of Bill Sikes, and even foreshadows the destruction of the entire gang. Here, a curious Noah peers around a pillar on the river side (rear) to observe the meeting, the illustrator signalling Nancy's agitation by depicting her dress almost in motion, while Rose's dress is perfectly still. Goggle-eyed, Noah carries the carter's whip that Mahoney gave him in the 1871 illustration. The arches of the bridge now dominate the scene, and one has little sense of the landing-stairs as Furniss has moved in, as it were, for a closeup. Rose remonstrates with Nancy, perhaps naively hoping that she can persuade the girl not to return to Sikes; Nancy, clearly alarmed, gathers her shawl about her and turns, as if making for the stairs.

Although Dickens is highly specific in his description of the setting for the clandestine meeting — "The steps to which the girl had pointed, were those which, on the Surrey bank, and on the same side of the bridge as Saint Saviour's Church, form a landing-stairs from the river — and even alludes to an architectural element in the new bridge's design as Noah, eavesdropping, has "his back to the pilaster," there is nothing in particular in Cruikshank's depiction that would suggest New London Bridge specifically. However, subtly includes the unicorn boss (foreground). This "new" structure, built in 1831 and inaugurated with much fanfare on 1 August of that year, replaced a 600-year-old medieval structure (dating from 1209) that was literally "falling down." Since the new bridge would have been familiar to Dickens's original serial readers, this setting must have brought the story into the lives of the book's readers, making the subsequent events insistently real. Thus, this is one of those magic points in the narrative when the fabular city of ballad, the modern Babylon and Dick Whittington's metropolis of opportunity, becomes the actual City of London in the 1830s, and the story a documentary of the criminal underworld at the reader's doorstep:

The London in which the action takes place is both the actual city of the 1830s — with all the respectable areas left out — and a dark and sinister labyrinth perpetually shrouded in night. The way Dickens describes Oliver's nocturnal entry into the city, escorted by the Artful Dodger, exemplifies this perfectly:

They crossed from the Angel into St. John's Road; struck down the small street which terminates at Sadler's Wells Theatre; through Exmouth Street and Coppice Row; down the little court by the side of the workhouse; across the classic ground which once bore the name of Hockley-in-the-Hole; thence into Little Saffron Hill; and so into Saffron Hill the Great: along which the Dodger scudded at a rapid pace, directing Oliver to follow close at his heels. [Chapter 8]


One can follow the route on a map but the overwhelming impression that this sentence leaves is not one of topographical exactitude but of the hapless Oliver's being drawn deeper and deeper into a dangerous maze. [Slater, 56]

However, the specificity of the description of "The Meeting" in Chapter 46 reminds the thoughtful reader that this is not the historical city of Sir Walter Scott's Jeanie Deans in The Heart of Midlothian (1818) or of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1749), the destination at the end of the Great North Road in pre-nineteenth-century picaresque fiction, but the real London of the present, a city whose vice and crime and grinding poverty the thoughtful reader cannot dismiss as the fictional construct of an imaginative, moralising writer.


message 23: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5598 comments Mod


Nancy

Chapter 46

Charles Pears

1912

Text Illustrated:

"I have been a liar, and among liars from a little child," said the girl after another interval of silence, "but I will take your words."

After receiving an assurance from both, that she might safely do so, she proceeded in a voice so low that it was often difficult for the listener to discover even the purport of what she said, to describe, by name and situation, the public-house whence she had been followed that night. From the manner in which she occasionally paused, it appeared as if the gentleman were making some hasty notes of the information she communicated. When she had thoroughly explained the localities of the place, the best position from which to watch it without exciting observation, and the night and hour on which Monks was most in the habit of frequenting it, she seemed to consider for a few moments, for the purpose of recalling his features and appearances more forcibly to her recollection.


Commentary:

By the time that Frederic W. Pailthorpe developed his narrative-pictorial sequence for the Robson and Kerslake edition in 1886, the rehabilitation of Nancy as the conscience-stricken victim of Sikes's brutality was well under way, and is certainly reflected in the treatments of Nancy by both late Victorian illustrators Harry Furniss in 1910 and Charles Pears in 1912.

In the Household Edition sequence by James Mahoney, the reader is prepared for Nancy's westward journey by night to keep her appointment with Mr. Brownlow and Rose Maylie by the illustration Then, stooping softly over the bed, she kissed the robber's lips. What is not immediately apparent, however, in Mahoney's treatment of her departure is that Nancy has, in fact, drugged Sikes, to ensure that she can keep her appointment with Rose Maylie at her West End hotel in Chapter 40 — an anxious journey that F. W. Pailthorpe describes in his 1886 hand-tinted engraving "Has it long gone the half-hour?", which gives us a much more sympathetic Nancy, fearful that she is being followed. However, the Pears illustration of Nancy seated outdoors does not occur near the textual description of her interview at London Bridge in Chapter 46; rather, Pears' study of an attractive but pensive Nancy is juxtaposed with the scene in which in Chapter 44 she pleads with Fagin to be permitted to go outside for some air. She does not, in fact, go outside at this point; Sikes attributes her behaviour to her having been "shut up here so long [that she has become] . . . restless". Thus, the illustration may refer to what Nancy has in mind, but it does not address the passage against which it is juxtaposed. In Chapter 45, at Fagin's behest, new-comer Noah Claypole follows her through the streets at night, and overhears some of her conversation under London Bridge on the south steps. However, this outdoor setting — at the side of a street — does not precisely correspond with any particular moment in the text.

Pears is by far the most sympathetic of Nancy's illustrators, rendering her as a slender, sensitive beauty rather than a heavy-set slattern. Even as Nancy sits at the side of street or walkway (identified as such by the grating of the sewer) she fears detection by Sikes, whose shadow hangs over her as if he were death itself, casting his shadow on the wall as she glances nervously to the right. The picture thus is a psychological study rather than a realisation of a precise textual moment as it establishes Nancy's apprehensiveness even as it suggests her determination to escape the precincts of the gang long enough to warn Oliver's friends of Monks' plot against him. That the gang may construe her behaviour as consistent with that of a police informant the illustrator implies by positioning the official-looking poster to her left, which appears to be advertising a reward in exchange for information useful to the authorities — by implication, information concerning the whereabouts of Fagin and Sikes.


message 24: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2275 comments SPOILER ALERT - if you haven't read the next segment, don't click on this link! If, however, you know what's coming, you might find this interesting. This is an article, with photos, of the steps on London Bridge where Nancy met with Rose and Mr. Brownlow.

http://bitaboutbritain.com/nancys-steps/


message 25: by Xan Shadowflutter (last edited Aug 08, 2018 05:42AM) (new)

Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Peter wrote: "I was surprised that Nancy said she was reading. I had assumed that a person such as herself would have had little or no education given the fact that she is only 18 and has been with Fagin for so long. Do you think this was a mis-step by Dickens or will this comment lead us somewhere else later in the novel?..."

This stood out immediately. She would not have been permitted to learn to read in Fagin's presence -- reading is power and Fagin wants his charges powerless -- so either this is a mis-step or A younger Nancy was raised by someone else before something bad happened. That would make her more like Oliver, wouldn't it. Dickens creating a balance?

It would also make her older than 18 or 19.


message 26: by Xan Shadowflutter (last edited Aug 08, 2018 05:47AM) (new)

Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Midnight had come upon the crowded city.The palace, the night-cellar, the jail, the madhouse: the chambers of birth and death, of health and sickness, the rigid face of the corpse and the calm sleep of the child: midnight was upon them all.

Nice! Nice, Dickens. Nice play on midnight, a time of both beginning and ending.


message 27: by Xan Shadowflutter (last edited Aug 08, 2018 05:57AM) (new)

Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Peter wrote: "Nancy says she will never deliver Fagin to them. Her reasoning is that she has been bad as well, and they have never turned on her so she will never turn on them...."

This goes back to what I was saying about family. It may be a dysfunctional family, but it is Nancy's family, and she won't turn them in. This is universal and is what drags down so many people who have a chance. Nancy has placed herself in an untenable position by partially betraying family. This will not end well.

----------------------------

I think Dickens just described a vampire -- Count Dracular Monks.

PS: Who would've thought cowardly Noah would play such a pivotal role when we first met him?


message 28: by Xan Shadowflutter (last edited Aug 08, 2018 06:07AM) (new)

Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments The illustrations of Nancy are interesting.

My Goodness, but does Cruikshank get Nancy wrong. She's not an old lady. And Pears goes to the opposite extreme. No way a woman, even a younger one, in Nancy's plight has the peaceful, strikingly pretty face that Pears draws.

Furniss comes closest to capturing Nancy -- young, but frazzled and scared.


message 29: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2275 comments Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Midnight had come upon the crowded city.The palace, the night-cellar, the jail, the madhouse: the chambers of birth and death, of health and sickness, the rigid face of the corpse and the calm slee..."

It's a little taste to whet our appetites for the opening of "A Tale of Two Cities" I think.


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Mary Lou wrote: "It's a little taste to whet our appetites for the opening of "A Tale of Two Cities" I think..."

Ah, that's good to know.


message 31: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2984 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "Question: Did anyone else notice that Dickens never named the "gentleman" who was with Rose on the bridge until the very end of the chapter? For most of the meeting with Nancy, we knew not if it wa..."

Hi Mary Lou

I too wondered why the word “gentleman” was used multiple times before we finally learn that the person was Mr Brownlow. I have no idea why.

I am really enjoying the discussion of Nancy. She fascinates me and I am following her character as it is unfolded by Dickens very closely. With this week’s illustrations we get to again see how the various illustrators invisioned her. Funny how one can get “attached” to a specific character. Xan, Julie and yourself are giving me much to think about and consider. I hope we have the opportunity to reflect on her after we finish the novel.

I also really enjoyed reading your link to Nancy’s stairs. Such connections make the reading of the text much richer. Did you get a chance to see them on your recent trip to London? If not, perhaps the stairs may well be on a future trip to London.


message 32: by Peter (last edited Aug 08, 2018 08:47AM) (new)

Peter | 2984 comments Mod
Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "The illustrations of Nancy are interesting.

My Goodness, but does Cruikshank get Nancy wrong. She's not an old lady. And Pears goes to the opposite extreme. No way a woman, even a younger one, in ..."


Hi Xan

We certainly do get different versions of Nancy’s appearance. I enjoy Cruikshank’s work in general, but agree with you that he missed the mark with Nancy. I do, however, think he captures Fagin very well. How do you like Cruikshank’s Fagin?

As to the Pears illustration, could it be that he wanted the illustration to create a portrait of a young woman whose outer appearance in some ways reflected her better inner self? The shadow that lurks in the illustration and the wanted poster both make real the world she has been co-opted into. I wonder to what extent Pears wanted to make the good - evil contrast as stark as possible?


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Peter wrote: "As to the Pears illustration, could it be that he wanted the illustration to create a portrait of a young woman whose outer appearance in some ways reflected her better inner self? ..."

Peter,

The shadow and wanted poster are both well done. And, yes, you could be right about Pears' intentions here. He could be showing the Nancy that lurks beneath, the Nancy that could have been. If that's what he's doing then good.

I just don't want to lose sight of how difficult and short a life Nancy's would have been. This is 1830s London -- one of the worst parts of London -- and she's poor and a prostitute. She's been beaten again and again, lives in filthy conditions, and her clients are probably filthy in ways we cannot imagine.


message 34: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2984 comments Mod
Kim, Kim, Kim.

How I look forward to and enjoy all the illustrations and commentaries you post each week. This week we have three features: Claypole, the Dodger, and Nancy and the bridge. Fascinating.

In each week’s commentaries there is much to learn and discover. For instance, I never thought about the weighting of the characters featured in the illustrations. Oliver takes the lion’s share in the first half of the novel and then there is a shift to feature other characters. I never thought about the trope of eating and consumption in regards to Noah, and yet there he is in chapter 27 and then again in chapter 42 eating and consuming. I would never have noticed how the heavy sack that Charlotte carried is placed between Fagin and Noah in the illustration as a visual symbol if it were not for the commentary.

The illustrations also make it obvious that the “out with the old and in with the new” is occurring. The Dodger and Noah are features of these illustrations as developed from the text.

And then, of course, Nancy and the stairs. I find it fascinating how each of the illustrators first read Nancy from the text and then place her in an illustration. Is she haggard and worn down, is she almost angelic, is she heavy set (although the text says no) or thin, does she look 40 or 14? The written word, the perception, and then the visual representation. It’s all intriguing. Thanks as always.


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Yes, what I enjoy are illustrations of a specific scene from multiple illustrators. Gives me a chance to see whose imagination matches mine. I still can't get out of my mind the faces of Fagin and the others as they try to awaken Nancy.

This just gave me a thought: if I could draw -- trust me, I cannot -- Dickens would give me almost endless inspiration. Has he ever created a scene that does not vividly impress upon the mind?


message 36: by Mary Lou (last edited Aug 08, 2018 06:20PM) (new)

Mary Lou | 2275 comments Now that we're nearing the end of the novel, I'm following my usual routine of watching movie adaptations to see which follow the book, which have the best casting, and which I most enjoy. I have three versions of OT: the musical; the Roman Polanski version; and the BBC adaptation. I've only seen the musical before, quite a long time ago.

I've started with the BBC miniseries because they generally do a good job. Lots of changes in this one, though. To start with, Fagin's gang has given Oliver the nickname "Nolly". WHY? Why on Earth would the writers throw in a nickname that was nowhere to be found in the novel?? They also have Rose as Brownlow's ward, and Monk is his grandson, living with them. (***See below.)

The casting is okay. Timothy Spall is Fagin. I like him as an actor, but he's not at all how I picture Fagin. And Nancy is black. Obviously they had to change the kidnapping scene, which would have been unnecessary if they'd cast a white actress. I minded that less when they made Tattycoram black in Little Dorrit, since it didn't really change the story. The other roles in OT seem to be pretty well cast.
The boy playing Oliver is very good, but his (or the director's) interpretation has Oliver being a bit more assertive, which is refreshing, if not necessarily as Dickens wrote him.

I'm only up to the burglary, so we'll see how it plays out, but so far I'm disappointed in the changes they've made. Frankly, I wonder if I'll be able to watch all three over the next week or two... this hadn't been my favorite of Dickens' novels. I hope TOCS will have a bit more humor - some light to balance the darkness. There's been very little of that in OT, regrettably.

**CORRECTION! Like Baby's father, when I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong. I actually got on Twitter and asked the woman who wrote the adaptation where Nolly came from (more politely than I questioned it here!), and she said it actually was in the book. So I fetched my Nook and did a word search. Sure enough, Dickens used "Nolly" four times. I stand corrected.


message 37: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments Mary Lou wrote: "Question: Did anyone else notice that Dickens never named the "gentleman" who was with Rose on the bridge until the very end of the chapter? For most of the meeting with Nancy, we knew not if it wa..."

That's an interesting point. I thought that the lack of names contibuted to the "secrecy" feel of the meeting. I noticed that Nancy's name was mentioned a lot, maybe because she was the one being spied on and the most visible. The others were more invisible. Rose's name was mentioned once or twice, and Brownlow's, not until the end. I'm not sure why he was saved for the end. Noah's name was concealed too, since he was literally hiding.


message 38: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments The book that says "coffin" repeatedly reminded me of the creepy death book that Fagin gave Oliver. Maybe Fagin has a library of these books.


message 39: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments I wonder if pride is the reason that Nancy wouldn't take help. In her first meeting with Rose, the narrator made a speech about pride as a vice and said it was Nancy's weakness. She seems rigid in her identity as a "lowly" person and the idea that it's "too late" for her, even though it's not.

So far, I find her "love" for Sikes unconvincing. There is nothing about him to love, and he only treats her badly. Usually, abusers mix good and bad behavior, so the victim uses the "good times" to justify staying. I don't know why Nancy would be so loyal, especially after Brownlow offered her free shelter, care, and protection.


message 40: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2984 comments Mod
Alissa wrote: "I wonder if pride is the reason that Nancy wouldn't take help. In her first meeting with Rose, the narrator made a speech about pride as a vice and said it was Nancy's weakness. She seems rigid in ..."

Hi Alissa

I too have wondered what possible attraction Sikes had that keeps Nancy so attached to him. Then, in this week’s chapters, we have Charlotte who seems to be equally attached to Noah and will follow him anywhere and carry, both literally and figuratively, their burden for him. Two pairs of characters that seem to function outside the boundaries of common logic/sense.


message 41: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments Also, Nancy wanted a souvenir from Rose, like a glove or handkerchief, but not money, because that would make her feel low. That seems like a "pride" thing to me. Oliver was never above taking charity. He actually begged for it. What are your thoughts on this?


message 42: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2984 comments Mod
Mary Lou

Wow! A flashback for me with your reference to a line from Dirty Dancing. From the most recent of comments about Nancy and Charlotte it is certain that no one will say of them “ nobody puts Baby in a corner.” Nancy and Charlotte needed such support in OT.


message 43: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1128 comments Peter wrote: "Alissa wrote: "I wonder if pride is the reason that Nancy wouldn't take help. In her first meeting with Rose, the narrator made a speech about pride as a vice and said it was Nancy's weakness. She ..."

Mary Lou wrote: "Peter wrote: "To what degree are you sympathetic to Nancy? Is it possible to feel sorrow and forgiveness to someone who has exhibited criminal attributes as Nancy has for so long?..."

I had all ki..."


Yes, the combination of Charlotte and Nancy in these chapters really makes me appreciate Mrs. Bumble.

I do agree with Alissa that Nancy is very proud, though. And that's what I see in the Pears illustration, too: the way her head is held up even as she sits in the gutter and frowns. I find it a persuasive illustration.


message 44: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1128 comments Peter wrote: "Chapter 42

Hello Fellow Curiosities

As we approach the end of Oliver Twist I hope you have enjoyed the discussions and insights as much as I have. Have you been on vacation while reading it, or s..."


Peter, congrats on your move to Toronto. My in-laws moved to our town after we had our 2nd child, and it has been such a wonderful thing for everybody. My oldest's tastes these days seem closer to his grandfather's than to ours: we call the two of them "the bromance."


message 45: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1128 comments Mary Lou wrote: "In the last segment, he brought together the various factions of "good guys" and now, in perfect symmetry, he's bringing together all of our "bad guys."

Ooooo, I never noticed this. Nice. It's such a long and complicated story, told over so much time: it makes sense that there be a climactic gathering-together of all the forces, everyone coming back onto the stage at once.


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