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Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens Essay

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Imprisonment and captivity are both actions that when are taken literally allow a person to repent for what they have done wrong. Great Expectations is a novel in which Charles Dickens utilizes the theme of imprisonment and captivity to help the reader better their exploration of his characters. Such exploration allows the reader to understand how and why the characters are imprisoned and gives insight into their personalities. Some of the characters are literally imprisoned and get a chance to think about the wretched things they have done that put them in prison. Others that are figuratively imprisoned do not necessarily understand that they are also committing wretched acts, which affect themselves and others, until it is too late. Throughout his novel, Dickens uses the theme of imprisonment and captivity, both literally and figuratively, and in doing so makes the figurative imprisonment and captivity have a greater impact on the lives of the characters.
When first meeting Miss Havisham, the reader learns that she is not only cruel, but also driven to seek revenge on men. As the novel progresses the reader learns that her vengeance is due to her imprisonment by her past. Miss Havisham always wears a dirty, old, ragged bride’s dress and sits in a room in which the table is set for a feast with a dirty, old, ragged table-cloth. In addition, all of the clocks are stopped to commemorate the time on her wedding day when she received a letter from her fiancé “which she received… when she was dressing for her marriage? At twenty minutes to nine… at which she afterwards stopped all the clocks… [and] it most heartlessly broke the marriage off” (182). After Miss Havisham is deserted by her fiancé, she imprisons herself in her house, nev...


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...marriage, and his illness that Pip is “released” from his imprisonment and realizes how important Joe is to him.
Through the examples portrayed in Great Expectations Dickens makes his figurative imprisonment have a greater effect on the lives of the characters than literal imprisonment. Those that are imprisoned figuratively are imprisoned by concepts and/or memories, the impact of which is less apparent than the physical bars of a prison cell. Because the imprisonment is more subtle, it can take a person longer to become aware of the impact that the resulting behavior can have on others. Once aware of the impact of their actions, one is thereby freed from their imprisonment, allowing their true personalities to emerge. Sometimes people are not who they seem, until they are freed from the shackles that imprison them, which allows others to see who they really are.



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