Magwitch's Manipulations of Pip in Great Expectations

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Magwitch's Manipulations of Pip in Great Expectations In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens criticizes the motivation of the lower classes to rise to the level of wealth and education held by the upper classes by showing the extent to which Pip is exploited by Magwitch to meet these goals. To meet the expectations of the gentleman, Pip must leave his family and any possibility of earning his living in order to satisfy the educational and societal demands of this standard. Magwitch, a social deviant, hopes to prove his viability by using his unfortunate circumstances to produce a gentleman entirely by his own effort. Magwitch exhibits Pip to the world as a gentleman who is not hardened by labor, but he does so by his own physical labor. Charles Dickens uses references to the exploitation that took place in the fairs of the nineteenth century to criticize Pip's gentlemanly aspirations by showing how Magwitch's creation of a gentleman through his physical labor resembles the often dishonest efforts of a fair Exhibitor to display his oddities. The traditional definition of the gentleman which was adopted by the upper-classes in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was one that made virtuous the leisurely lifestyle of the wealthy. The gentleman possessed social qualities which made his company desirable. "High birth, talent, grace, physical attractiveness, eloquence, learning and sprezzatura (a nonchalant, effortless ease) in both physical and intellectual activities" (Platz 150) were qualities of the gentleman that contributed to the social importance of the position. These virtues, however, allowed for other characteristics, which in the labor sensitive culture of the mid-nineteenth c... ... middle of paper ... ..., labor, in order to create a gentleman. However, that gentleman is created by the labor of another and is a facade with no moral substance. Like the sideshow freak of the London fairs, the gentleman is an object of wonder that is rarely found except when it is a contrivance of the Exhibitor. Works Cited Crawford, Iain. "Pip and the Monster: the Joys of Bondage." Studies in English Literature 28 (1988): 625-45. Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Ed. Janice Carlisle. Boston: Bedford, 1996. Letwin, Shirley Robin. The Gentleman in Trollope: Individuality and Moral Conduct. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1982. Mackenzie, Norman, and Jeanne Mackenzie. Dickens: a Life. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1979 Platz, Norbert H. "The Symbolic Dynamics of the Gentleman Idea in the Victorian Novel." Literaturwissenschaftliches 38 (1997): 147-65.

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