Great Expectations Analysis Essay

Great Expectations Analysis Essay

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Great Expectations was written by Charles Dickens during the Victorian period and follows the life of Pip, our protagonist, as he works his way up the social hierarchy of the Victorian society. It was first published as series from 1860 to 1861. It is written as a bildungsroman: a genre of writing which pursues the life of a character from their childhood to their adult life. This novel has been hugely influenced by the author’s own life; who also worked his way up the social ladder. The story is written in a retrospective narrator: older Pip is looking back to his childhood and telling the story.

Charles Dickens uses characters to represent different classes. The lower working class is shown by Joe. Joe’s character is based on Dickens’ father who was also a congenial, hospitable and generous man very much like Joe. Pip describes him as a mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish dear fellow.’ Charles Dickens is trying to show that working class are more pleasant than the upper classes. Joe is happy and very comfortable with his class. Pip describes him as being very uncomfortable when he is made to step away from his working class identity. ‘Nothing that he wore then fitted him or seemed to belong to him’ shows how ‘out of place’ he felt and looked when he was made to wear formal clothes by Mrs. Joe.
In a complete contrast to Joe, his wife, Mrs Joe is very ashamed of her position in the society. She keeps referring to the fact that she despises having to be a ‘blacksmith’s wife.’ This shows that she desperately wants to move up her class in the society and tries to do this by pleasing other higher classed characters like Mr. Pumblechook in hope of them granting her the status she desires. She makes more effor...


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In conclusion Charles Dickens’ own life experience and knowledge on class of his time has largely influenced this novel. Having faced some of Pip’s problems himself Charles Dickens has put a lot of himself and the people around him in the story.
Even though the whole novel is about Pip wanting to be a gentleman and his great expectations for himself; the true gentleman throughout the novel has been Joe. Joe has never changed the way he is to fit in with anyone but has been very comfortable with who he is. Charles Dickens shows that being a ‘gentleman’ has nothing to do with wealth and status but dutiful and gentle behaviour.
Dickens has related a lot to class in the novel as it was a very important part of the society then. However class isn’t as important in our society today as most of it is based on meritocracy rather than our social status.

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