Noah calls Oliver, ‘work’ us’ he did not use his proper name. Noah takes away any humanity from Oliver and treats him as abysmally. Noah may have done this because he was bullied himself; he was also a victim of society. Noah is a charity boy and he gets called names like ‘leathers’ and ‘charity’. He felt that Oliver was lower in status and therefore felt he had the right to bully him. This highlighted a hieratical situation with Oliver being at the bottom, as Noah stated that ‘you’re under me’. Noah uses a great deal of verbal bullying towards Oliver, ‘a regular right down bad un’ and ‘idle ruffian’. When Oliver was called these names by Noah, his self esteem would have lowered and he began to believe himself that he was a bad person as he was regularly told this.
Oliver encounters group bullying as well as individual bullying. While working at the undertakers, Oliver had to sleep under the counter, surrounded by coffins, he was deprived of food and often had feelings of desolation and loneliness. This was all because of Mr and Mrs Sowerberry, the owners of the undertakers. They made Oliver’s life even more unbearable. Charlotte, who also worked there, treated Oliver unfairly too.
‘Charlotte treated him ill because Noah did.’ This is a clear sign of group bullying. Noah became jealous of Oliver as he began to work more for Mr Sowerberry, ‘now that his jealousy was roused by seeing the new boy promoted to the black stick and hatband while he was the old one.’ This also gave Noah motivation to bully Oliver even more. Oliver’s life at the undertakers got so unbearable. He runs away to London and joins a pick pocketing gang led by Fagin. This is where he meets the brutal Bill Sikes and Sikes mistress Nancy.
Fagin is a manipulative character. Fagin who is a bully is introduced into the novel through reference to place. The area in which Fagin lives is oppressive and this is a narrative technique used by Dickens to suggest that a place reflects something within a person. Dickens appeals to the readers senses when writing about the place where Fagin lives. ‘Wallowing in filth’, suggests a vision, ‘air impregnated with filthy odours’, suggests a smell. This gives an idea that Fagin is a horrible character before he is even introduced. Dickens also uses a comparative form to show what the place is like, ‘A dirtier or more wretched place he had ever seen’, while reinforcing the idea that the place is even dirtier than the workhouse.
Dickens describes the character of Fagin using the words a ‘very old shrivelled Jew’ ‘who’s villainous looking and repulsive face was obscured by a quantity of matted red hair’. ‘Villainous looking and repulsive’ is ironic because ‘Old shrivelled Jew’ suggests a weakness, but this is also ironic as Fagin has power. He comes across as a weak old man. Fagin is referred to as ‘Jew’ by Oliver, this has a sense of judgement, and Oliver is doing to Fagin what Noah did.
When Oliver first sees Fagin, he was cooking ‘with a toasting- folk in his hand’. This is a metaphor as it has the implication of an evil, controlling character. Dickens highlights the fact that Fagin’s character is dirty and unkempt, ‘he dressed in a greasy flannel gown. Fagin’s main technique, when bullying the boys is a form of manipulation. Dickens shows this by certain words and phrases, used by Fagin like, ‘clever dogs’ and ‘fine fellows’. By complimenting the boys Fagin lifts their self esteem and their trust in him. Fagin is kind to Oliver, ‘We are very glad to see you, Oliver, very’. By using this kindness, he creates a false sense of security. Oliver has never felt any kind of love or true happiness before, so when Fagin is kind to him, he immediately falls into the trap of Fagin’s ways. But Fagin is not a kind or considerate character at all, he is a bully. Fagin is a controlling character; he treats the boys fairly in order to get them to work for him.
Fagin uses both physical and emotional bullying towards Oliver. He uses physical bullying when he hits Oliver with a club, ‘taking up a jagged and knotted club’, this suggests he inflicted pain and is used as a symbol to highlight Fagin as a bully. Dickens uses ironic language through Fagin, ‘My young master’ he does this ironically as Oliver is powerless. He also uses words like ‘sneered’ which suggests Fagin looks down on the boys.
Emotional bullying is also used by Fagin. He isolates Oliver by locking him in the house, he has the freedom to wonder around the house, but all the time he has no companions. Dickens writes that ‘He would crouch in the corner of the passage by the street door, to be as near to living people as he could’. Dickens could mean many things by this. Crouching is a foetal position, while doing this Oliver is being child like, by crouching; he desires comfort because he is scared. This also creates sympathy from the reader and instant criticism of Fagin. Fagin achieves absolute control over Oliver. Fagin oppresses Oliver to the point where he is so scared; he will not disobey him or run away.
Fagin emotionally bullies and terrorises Oliver again with a long lecture. This long lecture shows Oliver’s sin of ingratitude. Fagin hopes to evoke a sense of guilt. Dickens uses words which are emotionally charged. He makes Oliver feel guilty, while highlighting the word ‘cherished.’ This is ironic as Fagin did not cherish him at all. He also exaggerates the fact that Oliver would have starved if he had not taken him in. Dickens wrote that Oliver was ‘perished with hunger’. Dickens does this using ironic language. Throughout the lecture, Fagin gives a parallel situation. He tells of a boy who was ‘hanged’. Fagin is being very tactful with this; he gives a very graphic description of the boy who was hanged. We get a sense of Oliver’s fear by emphasising the fact that ‘Oliver’s blood ran cold’.