Charles Dickens’s birthday passed the other day, so here’s the classic 1948 film version of Oliver Twist, with Alec Guinness as Fagin.
From The Secular Scripture:
There are said to be customs and rituals in ancient Greece that explain the child-exposing convention; but they do not explain why Victorian writers, fifteen centuries later, should be as preoccupied with it as ever. With the archetype, at least: the actual exposure and adoption procedure is found only in stories with a strong folk tale feeling about them, like Silas Marner. Scott and Dickens would often be helpless for plot interest without the motif of mysterious birth: in Dickens a hero’s parents, like those of Oliver Twist, may be triumphantly produced at the end of the story even though they were mere names, playing no part in the story itself. (CW 18, 67)