• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Dickens present childhood in Great Expectations?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'How does Dickens present childhood in 'Great Expectations'? A tough childhood was typical for a child living in the Victorian period, and that's only if a baby survived till childhood - as infant mortality rates were extremely high. This is an experience Pip - our protagonist - knows well, as all five of his brothers are dead, buried in the graveyard at the beginning of the book alongside his parents. Pip and his sister - Mrs Joe Gargery - are the only survivors. If a child does survive, he or she would expect a life of child labour as education was not compulsory - and even those who went to school had to deal with a lot of corporal punishment. Pip himself is will one day be the apprentice of a blacksmith - Joe Gargery, "When I was old enough, I was to be apprenticed to Joe". Pip says "I was to be", implying he didn't have much of a choice in the matter. This sort of treatment children must endure affects the readers on an emotional level as nowadays children are seen as weak and innocent. In the Victorian period, it was always 'survival of the fittest'. The government did not give benefits or help as we come to expect now and so there was little chance of an orphan making something of himself like Pip does - something that must have been quite surreal to Victorian era readers. ...read more.

Middle

Pip himself attests that Joe is just a larger version of a child to him, "I always treated him as a larger species of child, and as no more than my equal." Joe also cares a great deal for Pip, as shown by his actions during the very dinner party his sister scolded him in. Every time something bad was said about Pip, Joe offered Pip gravy to show that he does not feel the same way, "he always aided and comforted me when he could... and he always did so at dinner-time by giving me gravy". During this particular dinner, Joe had to give Pip a lot of gravy to comfort him to a greater extent. Magwitch, despite appearances, is the only other person to be kind to Pip. At first when he met Pip in the graveyard, he was quite threatening, "Keep still, you little devil, or I'll cut your throat!" It should also be noted that Magwitch does not enjoy being threatening or looking like the bad guy. This can be assumed by the fact he says a 'young man' - a companion of his will be the one to cut out Pip's liver instead of he himself, "in comparison with which young man I am a Angel." ...read more.

Conclusion

whether the flower-seeds and bulbs ever wanted of a fine day to break out of those jails, and bloom." Seeds staging a "break out" is obviously something of a child's imagination. In addition, it should be noted that caricature shouldn't be confused with characterisation as caricature exaggerates a character's bodily features to a comedic - almost cartoonish level. In contrast, characterisation is how a writer completely creates a character. Such as the characterisation of Estella would be a rude, snobby and cold-hearted person on the whole. Whereas Joe would be a kind, caring and warm-hearted individual, characterisation helps draw wide contrast between different characters. To conclude, Great Expectations is very much the 'rags-to-riches' story of the Victorian period. It is quite dark and gloomy in both storyline and setting, although it balances this sombre tone with humour through the use of devices such as caricature. Moreover, it emphasizes the difficulty of being a child in the Victorian period. However, it also portrays the world through the eyes of a child quite accurately unlike other authors who write as if a child has the same maturity and thoughts as an adult - for instance in chapter eight; in the Satis House garden, Pip says (referring to Estella) "...she seemed to be everywhere." Someone being "everywhere" would only be the imaginings of a child's viewpoint - which suits the seven year old orphan perfectly. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Great Expectations section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Great Expectations essays

  1. Is Great Expectations a Romance?

    This too is romantic, the idea of comparing love to daylight, and lack thereof to darkness. However, there is other tragedy within the novel that is bald and real-life, the like of which would not be typical of a romance.

  2. Examine how Dickens deals with the issue of social class in Great Expectations.

    Pip, who was originally horrified to learn that his fortune came from someone far beneath Estella, now learns that Estella is the daughter of his criminal secret benefactor. The surprise does not change the way he feels for her. This is appropriate in part reflecting Pip's own changing feelings for Magwitch.

  1. Discuss the way that Pips treatment by adults during his childhood affects his adult ...

    about himself and shows that he now has a much lower view of himself than he did before he came. He is also made to feel common and inferior when he is given food by Estella in such a manner that she does not even look at him whilst doing so.

  2. Discuss the role of Joe Gargery in Great Expectations.

    However, Joe answers Jaggers directly, 'sternly' and not through Pip. This highlights Joe's growing confidence and may also show us that Joe understood that he deeply embarrassed Pip in his encounter with Miss Havisham.

  1. Great Expectations. This essay will explore how this novel represents childhood in the Victorian ...

    die not only for the diseases spreading around but it's also because most of them are orphans. Termination of the story........... Children didn't go to school because they couldn't meet the expense of money, so they had to picture things in their mind.

  2. On the surface, Great Expectations appears to be simply the story of Pip from ...

    The experiences that Pip has as a young boy are important in his maturation into young adulthood. Pip - The protagonist and narrator of Great Expectations, Pip begins the story as a young orphan boy being raised by his sister and brother-in-law in the marsh country of Kent, in the southeast of England.

  1. How does Dickens present childhood in Great Expectations

    The weather is fierce and the landscape is desolate just like Pip's fear and sense of loneliness. Pip is treated very badly, verbally and physically, by Mrs Joe. Mrs Joe abuses Pip vocally, "You young monkey", "You staring great stuck Pig".

  2. Great Expectations is an enthralling, complex tale - with a surprising twist. It is ...

    Another way Dickens represents Miss Havisham is by showing her actions. He says that she sits there each and every day "corpse like". Miss Havisham also orders Pip around, for example she says "Play, play, play!" This would make Pip intimidated as he is just a young boy, this would also make the reader dislike Miss Havisham.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work