Essay about Dickens's View of the Middle Class in Victorian Society

Essay about Dickens's View of the Middle Class in Victorian Society

Length: 2416 words (6.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Dickens's View of the Middle Class in Victorian Society

As exemplified throughout contemporary literature of the nineteenth century, the
Victorians were in the midst of social, political, and economic turmoil that
would generate vibrations throughout all social classes. The emergence of a new,
mercantile middle class was driving all classes towards a society based on
capitalism. Competition was arising between the middle class and the aristocracy
for a secure social position with little, if any, concern for integrity and
moral values (Joyce 299). Like many Victorian writers, Dickens fundamentally
labors over the idea of how to live life in this changing society and contend
with the issues of morality it presents. He creates "an allegory of a nation's
transformation" in Great Expectations, illustrating aspects of the changing
Victorian hierarchical social order ranging from the virtuous, working-class
rural laborers to the newfound middle-class, basing their lives on the leisurely
life of the self-indulgent aristocrats (Cottom 103). Embodying the
characteristics of this new middle class in Victorian England, ridiculed by
Dickens, is the Pocket family: Mrs. Pocket, an obsessive woman aspiring from
birth to be an aristocrat, and Mr. Pocket, a man Dickens would label
"shabby-genteel." Dickens deliberately intertwines the Pockets into Pip's
narrative in order to satirize the principles and futility of both the middle
class and the aristocracy whom they impersonate.

Social class in nineteenth-century England, as portrayed in Great Expectations,
has a strong parallel to morality and values. The higher an individual climbs in
the social order, the greater the desire becomes for capital wealt...


... middle of paper ...


...ure: The Politics of Interpretation. Minneapolis: U
of Minnesota P, 1989.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. 1861. Ed. Janice Carlisle. New York: St.
Martin's, 1996.

---. Sketches by Boz: Illustrative of Every-Day Life and Every-Day People.
London: Oxford UP, 1957.

House, Humphry. "Writings on Great Expectations and George Bernard Shaw."
Cotsell 44-56.

Joyce, Patrick. Class. New York: Oxford UP, 1995.

Pine, L.G.The Story of Titles. Rutland: Tuttle, 1969.

Sanders, Andrew. Dickens and the Spirit of the Age. Oxford: Clarendon P, 2001.

Schilling, Bernard N. The Rain of Years: Great Expectaions and the World of
Dickens. Rochester: U of Rochester P, 2001.

Wilson, Angus. "The Heroes and Heroines of Dickens." Dickens: A Collection of
Critical Essays. Ed. Martin Price. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1967. 16-23.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Advocates for a New Social Order: Dickens, Marx, and the Trade Union in Hard Times

- Advocates for a New Social Order: Dickens, Marx, and the Trade Union in Hard Times For over a century, Charles Dickens has been praised as being the working man's advocate, and the lower classes have played a major role in peopling his vast world of characters. Always, the reader is left with a sense of sympathy and pity for these characters as Dickens' journalistic descriptions of their plight are often dramatic, stirring, and pathetic. Although he renders the living conditions of the poor in such a way that no reader can escape feeling sympathy for such characters, Dickens never once offers a solution to such distress....   [tags: Dickens Society Class Essays]

Powerful Essays
2584 words (7.4 pages)

Charles Dickens Biography Essay

- He is living proof of childhood corruption and portrays himself as his young, mischievous, and perplexed characters Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. He proves that he is a product of the Victorian era as he brings attention to the childhood cruelty, the less fortunate in an English society, and the unwealthy dysfunctional families of the early Victorian time period. Charles Dickens reflects these and other issues as he brings to life the realism of writing. While others were writing about the way things should be, rather than the way things were, Dickens was challenging these ideas, and argued that paupers and criminals were not evil at birth....   [tags: Biography Writer Authors Dickens]

Free Essays
1576 words (4.5 pages)

Mystery in Charlotte Bronte's Napoleon and the Spectre and Charles Dickens' Signalman

- Mystery in Charlotte Bronte's "Napoleon and the Spectre" and Charles Dickens' "Signalman" The two stories that I have been studying are 'Napoleon and the Spectre' and the 'Signalman' written by Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens respectively. Both the stories are set in the nineteenth century, a period of time when the country was experiencing rapid change. Bronte's story 'Napoleon and the Spectre' is a story about the Emperor of France who at that time was a leading figure in society, a symbol and trademark of France's important position in the world....   [tags: Napoleon Spectre Dickens Bronte Essays]

Powerful Essays
2508 words (7.2 pages)

Comparing Dickens's View of Children in David Copperfield and Great Expectations

- Dickens's View of Children Exposed in David Copperfield and Great Expectations         Of all Dickens' works, David Copperfield and Great Expectations are considered to be his most autobiographical.  Philip Collins writes, "Great Expectations, indeed, though overtly less autobiographical than David Copperfield, is a more searching and self-critical account of Dickens' own inner impulses" (178).  It is also true that both of these novels have children  as main characters.  Dickens had a real talent for creating child characters in his works.  In some cases, Dickens' own life history is so closely linked with his fiction, that in order to understand Dickens' interest in the child...   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Powerful Essays
1693 words (4.8 pages)

Charles Dickens use of writing as a tool to change society in A Christmas Carol

- ?Charles Dickens used much of his writing as a tool to change society. How does he attempt this in ?A Christmas Carol. and to what extent does he succeed?. During Victorian Britain, 1837-1901, the population of the country grew immensely. By the start of the twentieth century, there were three times as many people as there was at the beginning of the previous century. This led to a huge shortage of housing and work, for people to earn money towards their family budget. As there were too many workers in industries, each person was paid very little money and because of that they all had to work for very long hours....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1761 words (5 pages)

Dickens's Views of the French Revolution Essay

- "Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression ever again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind." (385) This quote from Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities illustrates Dickens' bias for the revolting class during the French Revolution. In the book, however, Dickens does vilify the violence that is inherent in this Revolution. He also puts his own slant on the way the Revolution occurs and who leads it. This bias could be attributed to who he was and who his audience was....   [tags: European Literature]

Powerful Essays
672 words (1.9 pages)

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Essay

- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 'Great Expectations' was written by Charles Dickens in 1861. 'Great Expectations' is a coming of age story that revolves around the life of one man Pip. From the time he was seven years old until he was in the mid thirties, Pip shows us the important events in his life that shaped who he became. Along the way, he enquires many different acquaintances and friends that influence him in his decisions and goals in his life. 'Great Expectations' is a story that the public can relate to because at some point, everyone goes through the struggles that Pip must battle....   [tags: Great Expectations Essays]

Powerful Essays
2500 words (7.1 pages)

Essay about Life Of Charles Dickens

- The Life of Charles Dickens Charles Dickens was on of the literary geniuses of the 19th century. Dickens was the first main stream writer to reach out to the semiliterate class. He did much to make sure his writings were avaliable to the middle class. He published serial novels on a monthly bases. One shilling (one twentieth of a pount) would buy you the next installmenrt to your novell. In a time when novels were almost thirty times as much as one of these serial novels, it put reading within the reach of the middle class, thus highly popularizing charles dickens works....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1442 words (4.1 pages)

Charles Dickens' Hard Times Essays

- Charles Dickens' Hard Times When we think of hard times in today’s world, our thoughts might consist of the number of days before we get paid, an argument with our spouse, or simply that our car is not operating so great these days. Most people today can not begin to imagine what hard times were like during the Industrial Revolution. In nineteenth century England, hard times to the factory workers may have consisted of watching one’s nine-year-old child tied to a machine in the mill for fourteen hours a day....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Free Essays
1751 words (5 pages)

Charles Dickens Essay

- Charles Dickens Growing up in the Victorian period, Christmas didn’t have too much of an influence on society, particularly in England, where Dickens’ grew up. This could be why one might possibly find it odd that this man is known so well for his interest in Christmas, and his many stories that reflect that interest. Charles Dickens’ has forever changed the lives of people everywhere by the characters he portrays in his stories. From the innocent Tiny Tim, to the humbug Ebenezar Scrooge, to the mysterious ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future…Dickens’ has a way to look and write about Christmas from the point of view many could not even imagine....   [tags: essays research papers fc]

Free Essays
1166 words (3.3 pages)