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Charles Dickens Great Expectations Moral and Social Issues

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Introduction

Dickens wrote to amuse and addict his audience. He also managed to raise some important moral and social issues. How do we see this in 'Great Expectations'? Charles Dickens published Great Expectations chapter by chapter. This meant that Dickens had to intrigue, amuse and almost addict the audience in order for the novel to continue selling. He ensured this happened by ending each chapter on a 'cliff-hanger'. This is evident in the first chapter where we see Pip petrified at the hands of the convict (Magwitch) out on the marshes. He tells Pip, 'You get me a file and you get me wittles. You bring 'em both to me. Or I'll have your heart and liver out'. The chapter then ends with Pip sprinting back home. Since we sympathise with Pip, we feel his helplessness and the full tension of the scene. By the first chapter, Dickens already seizes the audience's attention and undoubtedly starts to addict us. Another example of Dickens ending the chapter at a moment of anticipation is when we find out that Mrs. Joe 'had been knocked down by a tremendous blow to the back of the head'. We are curious to find out if it is the end to the character of Mrs. Joe. Dickens again drip feeds us information by ending the chapter at a moment of anticipation which forces us to want to read on and therefore buy the next instalment. Dickens often ends the chapters by setting up dangerous situations for the characters we are fond of, so that we buy the next instalment because we desperately want to know if they will survive. ...read more.

Middle

In fact, Mr. Pumblechook even exploits Pip's monetary prospects to establish his own social standing. He makes false reports to the local newspaper about his role in Pip's greatness. Besides, it is also clear that money corrupted Compeyson. At a young age, Miss Havisham inherited her father's wealth and fell in love with Compeyson. However, he abandoned her on their wedding day for her money. His obsession with money completely ruined her; she became bitter and cold. For example, she brings up Estella in order to take vengeance on men. She tells Estella to 'you can break his heart', and asks Pip, 'Do you love her?' hoping to set him up. She not only exploits Estella but also Pip; she pretends to be Pip's benefactor in order to make Sarah Pocket extremely jealous. By creating Miss Havisham, Dickens demonstrates the dangers wealth possesses by its destruction of her love and the source of her sorrow. The character Drummle is another perfect example of one being corrupted by money. Like Miss Havisham, he is born into a prestigious family. He is arrogant, oafish, and abusive. Jaggers even names Drummle 'the spider' and tells Pip to stay away from him. He can even be considered hypocritical as he sneers at Pip and Herbert for their large spending habits whilst he himself buys extravagantly as well. Drummle is simply corrupted by the privileges and wealth of his family. Dickens sets up all of these characters as selfish and self-absorbed. ...read more.

Conclusion

Throughout Great Expectations, Charles Dickens displays the corrupting power of wealth through many of the characters. These characters are all unhappy and unsatisfied with their lives. Firstly, Miss Havisham has her heart broken by Compeyson. Drummle also is a selfish and egotistical man. Directly after he mistreats Estella, he dies in a riding incident involving a horse he has just beaten. Pip's life becomes superficial and he almost loses his friends and family in his pursuit to of the higher society. Dickens is warning us that wealth can also corrupt anybody, even someone as innocent, selfless, and magnanimous as Pip. In addition to this, self -discovery is also an important part of the novel as all of these characters learn their lesson; wealth does not buy happiness and love. An example is when Pip says, 'Oh! Joe, you break my heart! Look angry at me, Joe. Strike me, Joe. Tell me of my ingratitude. Don't be so good to me!' This shows that Pip realised what sort of man he became, and therefore learnt his lesson. Miss Havisham also realised the full extent of what she did to Estella and Pip. She says, 'What have I done? What have I done!' Dickens is saying that people eventually learn from their mistakes, usually by obtaining guilt or humility first. 'Great Expectations' is a novel full of ironies, 'cliff-hangers', and extremity with a compelling story line that forces us to become amused if not addicted to it. The novel is not only beautifully written, but it also forces us to reflect on crucial social and moral issues. ?? ?? ?? ?? Krysten Gandhi 11AC Year 11 English GCSE Coursework 1 ...read more.

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