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Dickens wrote novels which reflected and commented upon the society in which he lived. In 'Great Expectations' what did he tell us about the treatment of children - at home, school and at work- crime, punishment and the legal system?

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Dickens wrote novels which reflected and commented upon the society in which he lived. In 'Great Expectations' what did he tell us about the treatment of children - at home, school and at work- crime, punishment and the legal system In Great Expectations Pip is a young orphan who lives with his sister Mrs Joe Gargery. Pip is in love with a girl called Estella. Pip has a mysterious benefactor who wants him to move to London. A gentleman, Charles Dickens wrote novels, which reflected society in his time, and in this essay I am going to write about the treatment of children, crime and punishment and the legal system. Children in Dickens time were treated very badly, this was because they were regarded as a source of cheep labour. Pips childhood was a time of abuse, under nourishment and beatings. "Tickler was a piece of cane and was worn smooth by collisions with my tickled frame". This quote is talking about the cane that Pip used to get beaten with by Mrs Joe. Dickens uses humour here to describe this by calling the cane the 'tickler' as if it tickles but it does the complete opposite. Dickens quite often expresses the serious aspects of childhood in humour. I think that he does this because he is trying so show us that it is not that serious to children in those days and the fact that this type of cruelty happens all the time. ...read more.


This shows that adults just think of Pip of a lot of trouble and hard work. In Dickens time there was no state education, this was during the industrial revolution when the most important thing in society was work and production and the government and the rich did not think it was a priority to educate the workers or their children. Children had to hold down jobs to help the family. Sunday school was very popular as it was free. Children would often teach each other. Pip was taught by Biddy who was only a couple of years older than him. "My of my unassisted self and more by the help of Biddy than of Mr Wopsles Great Aunt, I struggled through the alphabet as if it had been a bramble bush". Dickens had used a simile when he said that the alphabet was hard to get through like a bramble bush would be hard to get through. This is another example of Dickens using humour to describe another serious issue. An example is when Joe was trying to read. The school that Pip goes to is based in a cottage and is run by Mr Wopsles Great Aunt, who is very lazy and unable to teach properly and she charges tuppence per week for her services. She is very disorganised and has a shop in the same room. "She had no idea of what stock she had". ...read more.


I'm pretty well known". This shows that he is very confident. Pips first incident with crime was when he stole food for the escaped convict. "I said I would get him a file, and I would get him broken bits of food that I could and I would come to him at the battery early in the morning". Evan Pip turns to crime this shows that everyone is affected by the industrial revolution. There was capital punishment where criminals were hung. This was the death penalty. This happened all the time, this was seen as the ultimate penalty and would put others off from committing the same offence and used convicted criminals as a example to others. All the upper classes regarded the lower classes criminals. Mr Jaggers was very commanding and well spoken, he was also corrupt and would take bribes but was given respect from his clients. Dickens tells us here that even lawyers can be corrupt which reflects on the hole of the legal system and even the so called respectable professions were corrupt in Victorian society. Life was hard work if you were in the lower classes. But if you were in the upper classes it was very good. Life is different today in our society. There are more material things for those who have jobs and money but there is still a big divide between the rich and the poor. In some cases the poor and under privileged turn to crime. I think that Dickens would see this as well. Patrick Topping ...read more.

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