Fictional character in Oliver Twist / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Fagin /ˈfɡɪn/ is a fictional character and the secondary antagonist in Charles Dickens's 1838 novel Oliver Twist. He is one of the most notorious antisemitic portraits in English literature.[2] In the preface to the novel, he is described as a "receiver of stolen goods". He is the leader of a group of children (the Artful Dodger and Charley Bates among them) whom he teaches to make their livings by pickpocketing and other criminal activities, in exchange for shelter. A distinguishing trait is his constant and insincere use of the phrase "my dear" when addressing others. At the time of the novel, he is said by another character, Monks, to have already made criminals out of "scores" of children. Nancy, who is the lover of Bill Sikes (the novel's lead villain), is confirmed to be Fagin's former pupil.

Quick facts: Fagin, Created by, Portrayed by, Voiced by, I...
Fagin in a watercolour by 'Kyd' (1889)
Created byCharles Dickens
Portrayed byLon Chaney (1922)
Ivan Berlyn (1922)
Irving Pichel (1933)
Alec Guinness (1948)
Max Adrian (1962)
Ron Moody (1960, 1968, 1983, 1984)
Clive Revill (1963)
Roy Hudd (1977)
Roy Dotrice (1978)
David Swift (1980)
George C. Scott (1982)
Jonathan Pryce (1994)
Richard Dreyfuss (1997)
Robert Lindsay (1997)
Gary Farmer (2003)
Ben Kingsley (2005)
Timothy Spall (2007)
Russ Abbott (2010/11)
Noah Berry (2011)
Rowan Atkinson (2009, 2010)
Omid Djalili (2009)
Griff Rhys-Jones (2009)
Neil Morrissey (2011/12)
Harry Moore (2012)
Anton Lesser (2015)
Christopher Eccleston (2022)
Elio El Hajj (2022)
Raul Esparza (2023)
Voiced byDom DeLuise
In-universe information
  • The Jew
  • The Old Man
  • The Old One[1]

Fagin is a confessed miser who, despite the wealth that he has acquired, does very little to improve the squalid lives of the children he guards, or his own. In the second chapter of his appearance, it is shown (when talking to himself) that he cares less for their welfare, than that they do not "peach" (inform) on him and the other children. Still darker sides to the character's nature are shown when he beats the Artful Dodger for not bringing Oliver back; in his attempted beating of Oliver for trying to escape; and in his own involvement with various plots and schemes throughout the story. He indirectly but intentionally causes the death of Nancy by falsely informing Sikes that she had betrayed him, when in reality she had shielded Sikes from the law, whereupon Sikes kills her. Near the end of the book, Fagin is captured and sentenced to be hanged, in a chapter that portrays him as pitiable in his anguish.

In popular culture, Fagin (or at least his name) is used in comparison with adults who use children for illegal activities.