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

Dickens is Famous for his dramatic presentation of character and using them as a device for social commentary.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Dickens is Famous for his dramatic presentation of character and using them as a device for social commentary. Dickens is famous for his ability to craft complex plots and striking characters that capture the paranoia of English Society. In the novels such as 'A Christmas Carol' and 'Oliver Twist', Dickens uses characters such as 'Scrooge and Bill Sykes', as a device for social commentary; Scrooge shows the audience that no amount of money can buy happiness or true friends. Whilst Bill Sykes' character enforces the moral message that crime does not pay and no one can escape their punishment, no matter who they are. 'Great Expectations', one of Dickens's most renowned novels, features the unforgettable character Miss Havisham and uses her as a window into the Victorian era, and stiff class system. In this essay I am going to be analysing how Dickens's uses Miss Havisham for the above purpose, and why he is so successful in doing so. Dickens grew up in Victorian England, taking his inspiration from the people and places he lived side by side with. The Victorian era was characterised by rapid change and developments in nearly every sphere, but it was also known as a time of suffering, and of conflict amongst the social classes. Dickens grew up in a world dictated by which class you belonged. Victorian Society boiled down to three major classes, the working class, the middle class and the all powerful upper class - to which 'Great Expectations' Miss Havisham belonged. If like Miss Havisham, a Victorian woman belonged to the upper class, her life was control: marry early to a gentleman, of whom her family approved; have as many children as they could afford and devote themselves to the up keeping of their home - whilst still keeping themselves perfectly presentable and well mannered. These were the things an upper class Victorian woman lived to accomplish, but as 'Great Expectation' tells us Miss Havisham never got the chance to fulfil hers' or society's 'Great Expectations'. ...read more.

Middle

'I thought it a strange thing then, and I thought it a stranger thing long afterwards. I turned my eyes - a little dimmed by looking up at the frosty light...and I saw a figure hanging there by the neck. A figure all in yellow white'. Throughout the novel Miss Havisham's cruelty intensifies, she plays many evil tricks and games on the few people who remain around her. Central to the novel's plot, is Miss Havisham's plans to break man's hearts, and force them to suffer the pain she has lived with for decades. When Pip and the audience are introduced to Miss Havisham we are unsure of her true intentions, and although Miss Havisham openly announces them in the presence of Pip and Estella, Dickens manages to create such an uncertainty within Pip, that the reader does not believe she is telling the truth. 'I thought I overheard Miss Havisham answer - only it seemed so unlikely - "Well? You can break his heart."' By allowing Miss Havisham to show this daring and unsettling behaviour, Dickens has illustrated how Victorian society allowed people of the upper class to do what they pleased without ever questioning them, or doubting whether what they were doing was wrong. We can also take from that, how Miss Havisham knows she has the freedom to do what she wants, without Pip doing anything to stop her or daring to deify her, she may not wish to live in the real world, but she understands how to survive in it. Dickens also emphasises Miss Havisham's cruelty by using antithesis, a linguist device which places two opposites together - ironic when we think of Pip and Estella's relationship. An example of Dickens use of antithesis is present in the extract 'grimly playful manner', a quote which is used by Pip to describe Miss Havisham's smile. Dickens' choice to use 'grimly' a word which carries connotations with death and then go on to describe a very lively active mood; highlights Miss Havisham's ability to manipulate any situation and the danger that represents. ...read more.

Conclusion

', 'she raised her head and looked at the fire again',' close before, and lost in contemplation of, the ashy fire'. Miss Havisham allows herself to fall into the fire she gradually brings herself closer and closer to the fire, searching it for answers and forgiveness. The fire drives out the beetles and spiders and destroys the faded bridal dress which represents (for her as much as for the reader) her imprisonment in the past; it is replaced with new 'white' bandages which represent her new found state of peace and clarity. It is only very late in the novel that Miss Havisham realises the damage that she has done both to Estella and to Pip, Too late of course for anything to be changed, Miss Havisham dies in the same mental agony in which she has lived since the day she stopped the clocks in her house. Note also how cleverly Dickens contrives her end - as she burns in a kind of living Hell fire. Perhaps we could say that Dickens makes the punishment fit Miss Havisham's crime - that of making Estella grow up in a "Hell" of icy revenge. True to his Victorian morality, of course, Dickens has Pip forgive her and allows her to settle an annuity on the Faithful relation, Matthew Pocket and his son before she dies. In conclusion Dickens is successful in using Miss Havisham to comment on Victorian society, he uses her character to explain how the upper class were given the power to thoughtlessly dominate, manipulate and buy whatever or whoever they wanted. Prompting the reader to question whether the amount of someone's liquid assets should determine how they're treated and how much freedom over other people they are willingly given. He also portrays through Miss Havisham's misfortunes an important moral message that it is foolish to allow one bad memory to dictate the rest of your life, because it is a selfish act, and how not trusting yourself to love again will inevitably hurt those who care most about you. ?? ?? ?? ?? Jessica Latimer 10JAS English Coursework ...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. Great Expectations- Miss Havisham

    She cries 'O!' the plaintive tone shows her sadness and despair, 'What have I done! What have I done!' here her exclamations show her guilt and despair, her wasted life is the subject of her inability to forgive and her 'stone' heart. Moreover the repetition highlights her bitter regret.

  2. How does Dickens present the character of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations?

    Havisham's life style, the dismal of the house could symbolise her mixture of feelings, and the iron bars the way she has locked up all her feelings inside her for so many years. "Some of the windows had been walled up; of those that remained, all the lower were rustily barred."

  1. Miss Havisham

    It also shows how she is depersonalising him, as she views all men as the same. In addition, it accentuates on Miss Havisham's inability to love. The failure of Miss Havisham's quest for love, fuels her actions of encouragement in inviting Pip over to play, bringing Estella and him closer.

  2. DISCUSS DICKENS' PRESENTATION OF PIP'S AMBITION TO BECOME A GENTLEMAN AND HOW IT AFFECTS ...

    Estella reports to him that she will be married to Drummle, Pip's enemy, and at first he is grief-stricken but then he becomes earnest and selfless (the moral qualities of a gentleman) putting her happiness before his own, and pleading with her that she marry someone worthy of her, but not Drummle.

  1. The novel "Great Expectations" was intended by Charles Dickens as a social commentary on ...

    A person's class background dictated their life. Money and wealth was valued and dominated life. Yet Dickens portrays his characters to show the startling between the lives of different classes. His depiction of Joe as a man of the working class is in direct contrast with the "gentleman" characters such as Compeyson and Drummle.

  2. Explore the initial presentation of Dickens Magwitch and Miss Havisham in Great Expectations

    Their separate descriptions are important because it contrasts the pair in a way that it is clear why the prosecution 'bore heavy on (Magwitch), and how light on (Compeyson)'. They are both imprisoned on the same prison ship, and consequently Magwitch tries to kill Compeyson, resulting in him being taken to 'the black hole', which is a solitary confinement cell.

  1. Pip wants to grow up to be a gentleman. Do you think he succeeds?

    Finally, since Pip was young, he now really cares about someone, caring is an element a gentleman needs and Pip is doing it well. He is helping Magwitch a lot to get him out of the country and hopes it will work.

  2. Miss Havisham is one of Dickens most memorable characters. Write about Dickens presentation of ...

    The same seems to be true of the owner, as Miss Havisham's name is actually a play on words, consisting of the "having" and "sham". This indicates both her physical and psychological state of mind. In terms of wealth she has everything, but this has not brought her any joy or contentment.

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