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Great Expectations

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Great Expectations By exploring the social and historical issues in 'Great Expectations', what are the major themes and ideas and how are the attitudes and values conveyed through the text. This essay is going to look at the social and historical issues Dickens raises in 'Great Expectations'. It will explore the time in which the book was set and the issues that surrounded life in these times. It will also look at the major themes and ideas within the text and how the attitudes and values are conveyed through the text. 'Great Expectations' is set in early Victorian times, when Britain was changing dramatically. New laws and jobs were being brought into Britain, and life was hard. One of the major social issues in 'Great Expectations' is that of the divide between the different classes. There was a major line between the rich and the poor. In the time that the book was set the upper class had very good manners and a good education and many people who were travelling from the country to London struggled as education was not readily available. ...read more.


When Pip first goes to 'Satis House', it is there he knows that he must become wealthy to be able to live in the same way and to obtain the love of a girl such as Estella. When Pip learns he is to be sent to London he immediately assumes that this is where he will be 'bought up as a gentleman' and be able to achieve his 'great expectations'. As the book continues and Pip begins to lose his money and reputation Dickens portrays one of the most important messages of the book; that having money and living a life of luxury does not achieve happiness and a path to success. Pip soon learns that had he stayed in the village, he would have been much happier. This links to another theme in the book of being a gentleman. In the time that the book was written, a gentleman was someone who was wealthy and who had a good education, which is what Pip immediately associates with London. ...read more.


Dickens himself did not believe that the justice system was satisfactory and he presents this through his text. The first chapter of the book introduces the reader straight away to crime when Pip meets the convict on the moors. The image of crime and punishment is seen throughout the book, through the image of Joe making handcuffs and the gallows at the prison. Jaggers is a very important image of Victorian crime and punishment, showing that lawyers were untrustworthy and if you paid the right amount they could prevent harsh punishment. Dickens cleverly makes the character of Jaggers obsessed with washing his hands, creating the image of lawyers being dirty and 'as guilty as the criminals he protects'. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/prosegreatexpect/3prose_greatexpect_themerev_print.shtml) In conclusion, the main themes throughout 'Great Expectations' are crime and punishment, ambition and self-improvement, social class and the meaning of being a gentleman. Dickens's uses these themes to convey different messages within the book and his opinions on how Britain was run in the time the book was set. The main theme of self improvement links with being a gentleman, and the main character and narrator of the book learns a valuable lesson along the way. ...read more.

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