Definitions for fagin

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Princeton's WordNet

  1. Fagin(noun)

    a villainous Jew in a novel by Charles Dickens

    "Fagin was a fence who trained boys as pickpockets"

Freebase

  1. Fagin

    Fagin is a fictional character who appears as an antagonist of the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, referred to in the preface of the novel as a "receiver of stolen goods", but referred to more frequently within the actual story as the "merry old gentleman" or simply the "Jew". Born in London, Fagin is described as "grotesque" to look at. 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 a roof over their heads. A distinguishing trait is his constant—and thoroughly 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 who grow up to live—or die—committing the same crimes as adults. Bill Sikes, one of the major villains of the novel, is hinted to be one of Fagin's old pupils, and Nancy, Sikes' prostitute, clearly was. He was portrayed as relatively humorous, he is nonetheless a self-confessed miser who, despite the amount he has acquired over the years from the work of others, does very little to improve the squalid lives of the children he takes in, allowing them to smoke pipes and drink gin "with the air of middle-aged men". In the second chapter of his appearance, it is shown, albeit when talking to himself, that he cares less about those children who are eventually hanged for their crimes and more about the fact that they do not "peach" 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, making Charley cry for mercy, in his attempted beating of Oliver for trying to escape after the thieves have kidnapped him, and in his own involvement with various plots and schemes throughout the story. He also indirectly and intentionally causes the death of Nancy by falsely informing the ill-tempered Sikes that she had betrayed him and Fagin, when in reality she had shielded him, loving him despite his violent personality. This results in Sikes beating her to death. Near the end of the book, Fagin is hanged following capture, in a chapter that portrays him as being pitiful in his anguish, waiting for the moment he will be led to the scaffold which is being prepared outside.

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