Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Essay

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Essay

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens


In Great Expectations, Dickens wants to explore what it means to be a
gentleman in the rapidly changing Victorian England. He suggests that
money is not everything, but you need some to get yourself started in
the world. Being a gentleman means that you have to be moral, kind,
courteous, hard working, financially independent and educated. Pip’s
experiences of social class, in some ways mirror those of Dickens’
childhood. Dickens’ parents were middle class but moved down the class
ladder when they moved house, (they moved from quite a nice house into
a slightly smaller house in a slightly less desirable area, over and
over again, due to financial problems, hence moving down the class
ladder) which happened quite often. We say that they have downward
social mobility.

In the early stages of Great Expectations, Pip experiences many
different types of social classes. These include the criminal class
and the upper class, two very different classes.

Dickens explores the idea of a modern gentleman through Pip’s
experiences; at the beginning of the novel, Pip is in his own village,
surrounded by people just like him and of his own class. Then, he is
taken to Satis House where he meets Estella, who is of a much higher
class. Estella changes his views on becoming an apprentice to Joe in
the forge; previously Pip looks forward to it, thinking that it is the
best thing in the world, but he changes his views drastically after he
meets Estella because he believes that Estella will think that he is
even more common than she already does. Jaggers, who is a lawyer
representing Pip’s benefactor, comes to see him and informs him that
he will inherit a grand property later in life...


... middle of paper ...


...nce again, thanks to Pip.

Pip discovers that Mr. Jaggers’ housekeeper, Molly is Estella’s mother
and that Magwitch, his benefactor, is her father. Orlick, who used to
be one of Joe’s apprentices, confessed to attacking Mrs. Joe after he
attempted to murder Pip. He is sent to the county jail after breaking
into Mr. Pumblechook’s house.

Magwitch has a struggle with Compeyson, the man who stood up Miss
Havisham on her wedding day and ruined her life, and Compeyson dies,
after betraying Magwitch. After being abroad for 11 years, Pip
realizes that he has neglected Joe and Biddy and apologizes to them
when he comes back, a self-made man. He realizes that his ways must
change and begins the long and difficult process of becoming a true
gentleman. He also goes to Satis House and visits Estella. He sees
that she is no longer as black-hearted as she used to be.

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