Artful Dodger

The Artful Dodger is a character in the Charles Dickens novel "Oliver Twist". The Dodger, whose real name is Jack Dawkins, is a pickpocket, so-called for his skill and cunning in that respect. As a result he has become the leader of the gang of child criminals, trained by the elderly Fagin. Dickens describes him thus:

He was a snub-nosed, flat-browed, common-faced boy enough; and as dirty a juvenile as one would wish to see; but he had about him all the airs and manners of a man. He was short of his age: with rather bow-legs, and little, sharp, ugly eyes. His hat was stuck on the top of his head so lightly, that it threatened to fall off every moment--and would have done so, very often, if the wearer had not had a knack of every now and then giving his head a sudden twitch, which brought it back to its old place again. He wore a man's coat, which reached nearly to his heels. He had turned the cuffs back, half-way up his arm, to get his hands out of the sleeves: apparently with the ultimated view of thrusting them into the pockets of his corduroy trousers; for there he kept them. He was, altogether, as roystering and swaggering a young gentleman as ever stood four feet six, or something less, in the bluchers.

In the BBC adaptation of "Oliver Twist" in 2007, the Artful Dodger is shown to care deeply about Nancy. He is shown to have been very upset about her eventual death and is also shown to be slightly jealous of not being Nancy's favourite when Oliver is being nursed by her after being shot.fact|date=December 2007

Ultimately the Dodger is caught with a stolen silver snuff box on his person, convicted as a "lifer", and is sent to a penal colony in Australia. The Dodger fails to handle his adversity well, roaring in the courtroom "I am an Englishman, where are my rights?" or similar terms where he considers himself a "victim of society". The judge shows little patience for the Dodger's charades, and orders him out of the courtroom immediately after the jury does not take long to convict him of the theft.

The nickname "Artful Dodger" is still commonly used to refer to someone who is good at avoiding responsibility or the consequences of his or her actions.fact|date=December 2007 "Artful Dodger" is also Cockney rhyming slang for "lodger".

Dickens had first used a similar term in his previous novel, The Pickwick Papers. At the close of Chapter 16, Sam Weller refers to the recent schemes of Mr Jingle: "Reg'lar do, sir; artful dodge."

The role of the Artful Dodger has been played by several notable performers. British actor Anthony Newley played the character in a 1948 film adaptation of the story. The role was amplified in the musical "Oliver!". The part was first played by Martin Horsey (actor, director and author of "L'Chaim"), and later by Tony Robinson, Davy Jones,Steve Marriott and Phil Collins among others.fact|date=December 2007 Elijah Wood also portrayed the character, and most recently he was played by Harry Eden in Roman Polanski's big-budget 2005 film version.

In the 1968 film "Oliver!", Jack Wild played the role and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.cite news
title = Obituaries - Jack Wild
publisher = The Times
date = 2006-03-03
url =,,60-2066814,00.html
accessdate = 2007-06-01

Others to have played the role in amateur productions include Ben Elton and Robbie Williams.fact|date=December 2007 In Walt Disney's 1988 animated feature film version of Oliver Twist, "Oliver and Company", the character of the Artful Dodger was changed to a streetwise anthropomorphic mutt simply named Dodger. The voice was provided by musician Billy Joel.

In the 2003 Twist film, a modern-day retelling of the story, the Artful Dodger is called Dodge and is played by Nick Stahl. The film is told from his point of view.


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  • artful dodger — UK US noun [countable] [singular artful dodger plural artful dodgers] Etymology From the name of an imaginary character who is a pickpocket (=someone who steals money from people’s clothing) in Oliver Twist , a novel by the British writer Char …   Useful english dictionary

  • Artful Dodger — Artful Dodg|er, the a character in the book ↑Oliver Twist by Charles ↑Dickens. The Artful Dodger is a young ↑pickpocket (=someone who steals things from people s pockets) who belongs to a group of thieves led by ↑Fagin …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Artful Dodger — Allgemeine Informationen Genre(s) UK Garage, R B Gründung 1997 Gründungsmitglieder …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • artful dodger — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms artful dodger : singular artful dodger plural artful dodgers someone who is clever and manages to get out of difficult situations and avoid answering questions • Etymology: From the name of an imaginary… …   English dictionary

  • Artful Dodger — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Artful Dodger peut désigner : « Le Renard », un personnage de l œuvre de Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist Artful Dodger, un groupe britannique …   Wikipédia en Français

  • artful dodger — Cockney Rhyming Slang Lodger She s taken in an artful to help pay the way …   English dialects glossary

  • Artful Dodger — Synonyms and related words: Casanova, Don Juan, Machiavel, Machiavelli, Machiavellian, Philadelphia lawyer, Yankee horse trader, actor, bamboozler, befuddler, beguiler, charmer, counterfeiter, crafty rascal, deceiver, deluder, dissembler,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • Artful Dodger — a character in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. He is a young thief who steals things from people’s pockets, and is one of the group of thieves that Oliver joins. * * * …   Universalium

  • ARTFUL DODGER —    a young thief, an expert in the profession in Dickens Oliver Twist …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • artful dodger — art|ful dod|ger noun count someone who is clever and manages to get out of difficult situations and avoid answering questions …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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