The Jew In Dicken — страница 3

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Jewish. England in the 19th Century attest to the strength of a tradition in which it was not uncommon to depict the Jews as crucifiers, Judases, murderers of innocent Christian children, and eternal wanderers. The weak hold of this tradition was brought about, it has been claimed, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and attention being paid to ancient superstitions concerning the Jews during the latter part of the 19th Century. Unfortunately, any attempt to reconstruct how the telling and retelling of biblical tales in rural England colored popular attitudes toward contemporary Jews. Despite Dickens never intending a harmful portrayal of the Jews, the immediate effect of Fagin may well have been to hold back their struggle for emancipation and recognition in this

important era of time. Dickens’ Jew exemplifies the prejudices that may otherwise have remained untalked about. Dickens gave me the impression that he respected Jews and their plight, but in turn was realistic in the fact that he described them as unsentimental and unaware of the degradation that they face. This is portrayed at the end of the story. Fagin is being given a guilty verdict. Fagin will be hanged. His religion is once again repelled when religious people come to pray with him. He refuses them and has hallucinations. Dickens portrays a disturbing picture of the ultimate punishment due to a life of evil and crime. Once again, Fagin is isolated, but now as the criminal. The courtroom scene is evidence that no one wishes to have anything to do with him except to watch

him die. Chapter LII gives us Fagin’s trivial thoughts as he awaits his verdict: There was one young man sketching his face in a little notebook. He wondered whether it was like, and looked on when the artist broke his pencil-point and made another with his knife, as any idle spectator might have done? Not that, all this time, his mind was for an instant free from one oppressive overwhelming sense of the grave that opened at his feet; it was ever present to him, but in a vague and general way, and he could not fix his thoughts upon it. Thus, even while he trembled, and turned burning hot at the idea of speedy death, he fell to counting the iron spikes before him, and wondering how the head of one had been broken off, and whether they would mend it or leave it as it was. Then He

thought of all the horrors of the gallows and the scaffold – and stopped to watch a man sprinkling the floor to cool it- and then went on to think again (Dickens 1961:469). Dickens did portray the character of Fagin in a fair and just light. Fagin was an awful man, driven by greed and loneliness. Perhaps the only true happiness that Fagin could find was that of vicarious pleasure. In other words, love through others, things that others owned and places that others lived. In the end, Fagin just wanted to be a part of. I read this story several years ago and saw the movie musical. I don’t remember the depictions of Fagin, or any other characters, being portrayed in the light as I have discovered in doing work on this paper. That is a shame of being an adult and seeing the

atrocities being handed to people because of race or religion. One might ask why I was so interested in doing this paper. I did it for my own peace of mind. Dickens’ is not a Jew hater. He is a realist and his brilliant work in Oliver Twist not only makes for good reading, but also makes one think. After all, isn’t that what literature is all about?