Great Expectations

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English Coursework - Great Expectations


Charles Dickens was born in 1812. He lived with his father for the
first 12 years for his life, until his father fell deep into debt. He
then went to live in a prison until his father paid off his debts.
During the time before he wrote ‘Oliver Twist’, two main events in
history occurred. These were that slavery was abolished by
Wilberforce, and the Chartists started their campaign to help the poor
people of Britain. These indirectly inspired him to write ‘Oliver
Twist’.

Oliver twist is a story about a boy who is born into an orphanage from
his unknown mother, who dies giving birth. He stays in the orphanage
until he is sold to an undertakers for 5 pounds as slave labour. He is
abused at the undertakers and so he decides to run away to London, to
get a better life. When he arrives, he is taken in by a pickpocket and
taught how to steal for a living. He is caught on what seems like his
first attempt. He is put on trial, and is released, due to a last
minute witness statement. The prosecutor sympathises with Oliver, and
so he adopts him legally.

This novel was a large success because of the relation people made
with real life experiences. The aimed-at audience were about 20 years
old, and some of them had experienced what happened in the story. This
book stirred a lot of people. It stirred them enough to abolish child
labour, or at least to question the decisions some of the politicians
made and what effect they would have on the people.

There was a long period of time between the writing and success of
Oliver Twist and the writing of the next book, ‘Great Expectations’.
in this time, he left his wife and 10 children, he wrote another
novel, ‘A Christmas Carol’, and started giving public readings of his
work. He also started a monthly publication of his novels. This was
how he distributed ‘Great Expectations’.

Great Expectations was a story about a boy called Phillip Pirrip,
known as Pip, who doesn’t know any of his parents or 5 brothers, as
they died while he was too young to be able to remember them. His only
relation is his sister and her husband, the local blacksmith, and she
runs a very strict household. The story starts where Pip is in the
village church yard. He is cornered by an escaped convict, called
Magwitch. He threatens Pip and says that if he doesn’t bring him food
and a file, that he will hurt him. Pip runs home and steals a pork pie

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and a file and brings them back. On his way to the churchyard, he
comes across another convict who he startles and he runs off. Pip
eventually finds Magwitch and he gives him the file and the food. The
two convicts are late caught fighting. Magwitch is exiled to New South
Wales. He confesses to stealing a pork pie and a file from the
blacksmiths, to “bail Pip out”. The next week, Pip is invited to go
and play at Miss. Havishams house. When he’s there he fights a boy and
wins. He then is introduced to Estella. He plays here until his 14th
birthday when he has to go and be an apprentice for Joe, the
blacksmith. He works here for 6 years, until he is visited by Mr.
Jaggers. He tells Pip that he is considered to have ‘Great
Expectations’ and is to travel to London and become a gentleman. He
tells him that he has also inherited a large sum of money. If he were
to accept, he would also have to agree to two conditions: To keep the
name Pip, and not to inquire about who is donating him the money. He
went to live with Mr. Pocket, the boy with whom he fought at Miss
Havishams. This goes well for a long while until Magwitch visits him.
he is proud of pip for becoming a good gentleman. In doing so,
Magwitch has betrayed his sentence and has come back to England so pip
has to figure out how to get him back to America without being
noticed. They decide to put Magwitch on a trans-Atlantic ferry. He is
followed to the ferry by the police who have been tipped off by the
convict Magwitch was fighting at the start of the story. They fight on
the boat that comes to pick them up and fall off. The other convict is
killed but Magwitch is still alive, although badly hurt. He is put on
trial and is sentenced to death. Pip goes to Miss Havishams house and
tells her that he thought it was her sending him the money. She tells
him that there wasn’t enough evidence for it to be conclusive that it
was her sending it. He walks out of the room, and a block of coal from
the fire falls out and burns her. She dies and so pip goes back to
London. Magwitch has taken ill due to his injuries. He tells Pip of
his daughter. Pip makes the connection between Magwitch and his
daughter, who turns out to be Estella.


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