Sympathy for Magwitch in Great Expectations

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Great Expectations - sympathy for Magwitch. We sympathise for Magwitch a great deal in this book even though he is intimidating at first. As we see his softer side we begin to like him and are touched by the gratitude he shows to Pip later on in the book and the strong friendship they form with each other. The way Magwitch is exploited by the legal system upsets us a great deal and increases the pity we have for him. Dickens' methods of satirizing the legal system and contradicting the stereotypes of convicts in the nineteenth century are very affective in making the reader feel pathos for Magwitch. In chapter 3 we begin to overlook Magwitch's appearance and threatening manner in the earlier scene because we see he is a human being with a sense of humour and real feelings like everyone else and not the tough menace he made himself out to be. When Pip first catches sight of Magwitch again he appears to be in a terrible state and looks very weak: " I half expected to see him drop down before my face and die of deadly cold" Dickens has changed Magwitch from an intimidating criminal to a helpless and fragile man. This is the first time that one starts to pity Magwitch, and to see his softer and more human side. We also see how desperate Magwitch is for food: "His eyes looked so awfully hungry, too, that when I handed him the file and laid it down on the grass, it occurred to me he would have tried to eat it, if he had not seen my bundle." His need for food makes us sympathise for him even more and the choice of, "awfully hungry" makes his situation even more awful. Pip's vivid imagination as a child is a very effective tool in stirring sympathy because it is so unprecedented, "it occurred to... ... middle of paper ... ...s for much longer and that they will be separated. It also makes Magwitch seem like a helpless child who is being comforted, rather than a terrible convict. Dickens did not only satirizes the judicial system to make the reader feel sorry for Magwitch but he also does it in hope that he would make people reading the book at the time question the judicial system. He uses Magwitch to make them feel as if they have a connection with the convicts who are victims in the system. He hoped that he would affect the public opinion and possibly help to make some changes in the legal system. Not long after "Great Expectations" was written the legal system in Britain changed, so it seems that Dickens' views of the legal system were shared with others and he must have been an influential writer in the nineteenth century if "Great Expectations" made such a huge impact.
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