Chapter One and Thirty Nine of Great Expectations

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Compare chapter 1 of Great Expectations, in which Pip first meets the convict, with chapter 39, when the convict returns. Charles Dickens is considered to be one of the greatest English novelists of the Victorian period. This greatest of Victorian writers was born in Landport, Portsmouth, on February 7, 1812. His father John worked as a clerk in the Navy Payroll Office in Portsmouth. It was his personal experience of factory work and the living conditions of the poor that created in Dickens the compassion, which was to mark his literary works. Dickens's works are characterized by attacks on social evils, injustice, and hypocrisy. Great expectations was Charles Dickens’ second to last complete novel. It was first published as a weekly series in 1860 and in book form 1861. Throughout great expectations, Dickens explores the class system of Victorian England, ranging from the most wretched criminals (Magwich) to the poor peasants of the marsh country (Joe and Biddy) to the middle class (Pumblechook) to the very rich (miss Havisham). The theme of social class is central to the novel’s plot and to the essential moral theme of the book. Pip’s realisation that wealth and class are less important than affection, loyalty and inner worth. Pip achieves this realisation when he is finally able to understand that, despite the admiration in which he holds Estella, one’s social status is in no way connected to one’s real character. Perhaps the most important aspect to remember about the novels conduct of social class is that the class system it portrays is based on the industrial revolution of Victorian England. Many of the wealthy characters such as Miss Havisham there fortunes have been earned through commerce. Mi... ... middle of paper ... ...witch, the convict on the marshes reveals himself as Pip's true benefactor, the only feelings Pip can have towards him are 'repugnance' and disbelief. Pip has always believed Miss Havisham to be his true benefactor, and believed that she wanted him to be with Estella. Pip thinks that Magwitch is the lowest of low, and he doesn't want to be associated with him. In conclusion, Pip learns that his wealth and social standing came from the labour of an uneducated prison inmate, turning his social perceptions inside out. The fulfilment of his hope of being raised to a higher social class turns out to be the work of a man from a class even lower than his own. The sense of duty that encourages Pip to help the convict is a mark of his inner goodness, just as it was many years ago in the swamp, but he is nevertheless unable to hide his disgust and disappointment.

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