Review of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations

Review of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations

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Review of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations

Charles Dickens' book 'Great Expectations' is a very well known novel
about a boy called Pip, who goes on a journey to discover his 'Great
Expectations'. On this journey to become a gentleman he finds out many
things about himself, and by the end of the novel realises exactly
what his real identity is.

The storyline is very heavily based on Dickens' beliefs at time he was
writing and this clearly is reflected when you read the novel. Dickens
was very worried about society in Britain in the 1800's and he could
not understand why every aspect of status and identity revolved around
money. This connects to the book as Pip, after his visit to Satis
House, believes that he has been brought up badly and that money is
the only resource to give you any sort of 'real' identity. 'I was
humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended, angry and sorry.' Pip feels
inadequate in the company of Miss Havisham, the owner of Satis House,
and Estella, Miss Havisham's foster daughter and perhaps this is
Dickens felt when his father was sent to prison for being in debt and
Dickens was sent to the blacking factory so he could provide money for
the rest of his family. However Dickens began to feel that people were
too greedy, and people had forgotten that having good friends and a
safe place to live is much more important. Dickens and his family were
looked down because of this, as they had gone from being an upper-
class family to being a low working-class family.

We first hear of Satis House in chapter eight when Pip is sent to meet
Miss Havisham, a rich old lady who owns the house. 'Satis' translates
from Greek to mean 'enough', which is quite ironic in that Estella,
Miss Havisham's daughter explains 'it meant when it was given, whoever
had this house could not want anything else', However Miss Havisham
was jilted on her wedding day and slowly decayed after stopping all of
her clocks, and with that, her life.

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Review of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations Essay

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We meet her and we see that she
is wasting away in a room on the top floor of her house, filled with
half packed chests of clothes and items ready for when she is married.
When Pip is on his way to meet her he is expecting a well turned out,
typically rich-looking lady who is going to set him up in his quest to
become a gentleman. He is faced with quite the opposite, as she is
described as 'a waxwork and skeleton' by Pip as he approaches her in
chapter eight. After spending a few minutes with Miss Havisham he
observes, 'the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the
dress', explaining how decayed Miss Havisham looks as she has been
wearing the same dress since she was stood up on he wedding day. 'You
are not afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since you were
born?' At this point Pip is very scared of Miss Havisham as he
describes being uncomfortable in her and Estella's company. 'I think I
should like to home' Pip says when Miss Havisham interrogates him on
his views about Estella.

Satis House is described by Pip as 'of old brick and dismal' as him
and Mr Pumblechook, Pip's uncle, approach 'walled up' windows,
'rustily barred face them as they wait for Estella to let them in to
the grounds. To me the house is described as a building similar to a
prison, even more so with it's 'high enclosing walls' and 'disused',
'empty' brewery. Pip I feel is distressed by his surroundings when he
says, 'the colder wind seemed t blow colder there' which suggests he
is clearly affected by the grounds of the house and what they
represent. Pip is even more affected by the way Estella insults him
and makes him feel inadequate. 'What coarse hands he has! And what
thick boots!' are some of Estella attempts to hurt Pip. Pip is damaged
so much by these words that he begins to question, Joe Gargery, Pip's
brother-in- law who has brought him up in life, about the way in which
Joe and his wife, Pip's sister have taught him to live. Now Pip
becomes even more determined and enthusiastic about becoming a
gentleman.

As Pip continues on his journey he travels to London to meet Mr
Jaggers, a powerful, well known lawyer who has an office in the
capital. This stage in Pip's journey to become a gentleman represents
Pip's endeavour to establish an identity for himself among the people
of importance that could give him a decent status, but as soon as he
enters London it is not how he thought it would be, and what he sees
seems quite the opposite. Pip immediately feels contaminated by his
surroundings, just like at Satis House. 'I might have had some faint
doubts whether it was not rather ugly, crooked, narrow and dirty'
which suggests how opposite London was in comparison to his original
views on the city before he went there. Whilst waiting for Mr Jaggers
he takes a stroll around the area Jaggers office is located in, and is
'scared by the immensity' of the city. As he walks past the courts he
is confronted by a minister of justice who was 'exceedingly dirty and
partially drunk'. Just like in chapter one Pip is alone again in this
particular chapter, and like being confronted by a convict as a little
boy, he is now confronted by criminals and what Dickens portrays as
the moral decay of society. When we meet Jaggers later in the chapter
we find out where all his power comes from. He is an aggressive,
physically powerful man, who is solely interested in money as one of
the frequent, few questions he asks his clients are 'have you paid
Wemmick?', Jaggers' clerk. Every client is scared of Jaggers and the
state of his office reflects his aggressive state. 'The wall opposite
to Mr Jaggers' chair being greasy with shoulders'.

Wemmick, Mr Jaggers clerk is the first man we meet in London and seems
like a very cold and serious man when Pip talks with him in Jaggers'
office. Later on however Wemmick we learn is a completely different
man compared to the man we initially get to know. When Wemmick invites
Pip to his house the two men decide to walk to Walworth, the location
of the house, and this conversation on the journey, shows us how
different Wemmick really is to the cold clerk in Jaggers' London
office. He makes many comments about Jaggers that he does not seem
capable of saying at his place of work. At the end of the walk we
finally arrive at Wemmick's castle in Walworth and we see 'a
collection of black ditches, and with gardens'. Wemmick's house is a
'small wooden cottage, painted like a battery and mounted with guns'.
Wemmick says 'my own doing' as they arrive and cross the 'drawbridge',
a simple plank of wood on a rope which leads across the ditch between
the road and Wemmick's house. As we enter the cottage we meet
Wemmick's father, who is affectionately known as 'The Aged'. He is a
very deaf, very old man who shares a very warm relationship with his
son. Something we notice in time is that 'The Aged' is very fond of
being nodded at, and Pip observes this an joins in with the exchange
of nods Wemmick and his son exchange. For the first time in the book
Pip actually realises the importance of the relationships between
people and that they are one of the pivotal aspects of being happy. He
admires the way Wemmick and his Father might not live in a palace, but
they are happy just being with each other and that is all that they
need. As Pip is that affected he is brought round to thinking money is
not what makes you happy, it is the people around you, and because of
his change he decides that he should go back to the marshland to
reunite with Joe and Biddy, his brother-in-law and his new wife, as
Pip's sister was killed earlier in the novel.

Eventually Pip runs out of money and decides to go back to his roots
in the marshes to live with Joe and Biddy, and to prove how he has
changed from the person he thought he could be, to the man who takes
people as his values and has forgotten the influence of money on his
own life. In short he has finally realised the importance of his
family and friends, and how money cannot make life any better, or
replace your friends. This is close to Dickens' way of thinking, after
he had to go through the dirt and contamination of the blacking
factory, and the shame of being looked down on by the rich people who
he and his family were once among.
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