Oliver Twist

Anti-Semitism as Personified in Fagin from Oliver Twist College

In English novels, Jewish characters have been routinely described as greedy, nit-picking, and stingy misers. They are usually but not always merchants, money lenders, or bill brokers—Shylock from The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, Isaac from Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, and Fagin from Oliver Twist, among other Jewish characters, are the most well-known examples of such racial and cultural stereotype. Oliver Twist is the second novel by Charles Dickens and was first published as a serial 1837-9. Through the crafty description of the orphan Oliver Twist’s uneasy life, Dickens reflects the reality of the massive low class poor people at that period of time. And the villainous character in the novel—Fagin, and his Jewish identity have always been controversial to readers across cultures and generations. In this essay I will talk about anti-Semitism in Oliver Twist as personified in Fagin. I will present the difference in attitude towards Jews as seen in Fagin through the comparison between Dickens’s original novel and other later adapted versions—specifically, David Lean’s 1948 film adaptation and Roman Polanski’s 2005 film adaptation. Also I will demonstrate the causes as well as the consequences of different stages...

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