Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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“Great Expectations”, perhaps one of Charles Dickens most well renowned and regarded works, illustrates a very biased social class structure throughout the confines of the story. There are the poor, who have nothing but what they earn, “barely enough to survive” by working hard labor jobs for the majority of their life. Then there are the middle class or the “Gentlemen” who do not want but rather, have decent income and are sustained in their desires. As in modern day society, the transcendence from poor “working class” to one of a higher class is usually accompanied by the amount of wealth which one has procured. But was this social class concept what Dickens was trying to illustrate via his lifetime period? Furthermore, what was his intention of even placing this in the story? In short, what was Dickens definition of the social class altogether?
To begin, an overview of the story seems to be in order. Pip, the story’s main character and protagonist, grows up in the working class, working in a forge with his lifelong friend Joe, an uneducated man who knows his work and that’s about it. One day, as a young boy, Pip is set upon by an escaped convict whom he decides to be kind too and fetches him food and drink. Not long after the gift is received, the convict is captured and hauled off to prison. Sometime after the incident with the escaped convict, Pip is summoned to the home of a rather wealthy woman by the name of Miss Havisham. To call this woman despicable would be an understatement as she is unable to let go of a grudge she holds against a previous lover who left her at the altar long ago. She sees all men as worthless, evil and useless and plans to use a small child by the name of Estella, a young girl whom Pip meets upon ...

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...oves what human qualities that human desperately need in regards to loving one and other. Dickens’s main point, it seems to this undergraduate, is to give his readers the sense of not losing sight of who they truly are and who they truly can be. The sense of power and yearning that the social class seems to present is really, as is apparent to this undergraduate, a trap laid by some metaphorical beast which thrives off of its inhabitants. Perhaps Dickens was attempting to warn his fellow man about a threat that was ruining his world which he himself seems to have fallen prey to at times, or perhaps Dickens was merely using the social class as a structure to tell his life story somehow. Whatever the case, “Great Expectations” certainly gives its readers a sense of foreboding when examining it from its structural sense on the premises of society and its inhabitants.

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