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

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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.


'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.


', '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.

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