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

Discuss Dickens' treatment of the Victorian concept of a gentleman in Great Expectations.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss Dickens' treatment of the Victorian concept of a gentleman in Great Expectations Victorian society was very class orientated and gentlemen were the elite of their world. Traditionally gentlemen came from good backgrounds, were wealthy and conducted themselves in a proper and gentlemanly manner. Charles Dickens' disagrees with these stereotypes and he shows this in his novels. In Great Expectations Philip Phirrip, nicknamed 'Pip', thrives to become what the Victorians perceived to be a gentleman. Pip wants to have great wealth and to have all the things that he felt were important in order to become a gentleman. Characters like Joe Gargery and Magwitch also show their belief that they consider these material things to be important in a gentleman by their change of attitude to Pip after he becomes a 'gentleman'. Throughout the novel though, Pip's view on what a real gentleman changes considerately and this is portrayed very visibly by the way that Pip narrates the story at the end. His change in views from the time that he performs the actions to the time that he narrates them is shown by Pip's use of regretful language or the way he feels about what he did in the past. Dickens recognized the old fashioned views that the society of the time had concerning gentleman and showed throughout his novels his opinion on this matter. ...read more.

Middle

When Magwitch is in court he talks about the appearances of Compeyson and himself when he says, "I noticed first of all what a gentleman Compeyson looked wi'his curly hair and his black clothes and his white pocket handkerchief and what a common sort of wretch I looked." Dickens has included these characters to show the injustice that the people who are considered gentlemen in his society are in reality the cruelest and most indecent of all. This is shown very clearly by Dickens in the fate of these characters. Compeyson in the end, dies by drowning and Drummle dies in a horse accident. This clearly portrays the fact that Dickens as a social critic wants to try and change people's views on what they think a gentleman really is and to base their judgments on character, not on wealth. When Pip first arrives in London he is treated very well by Herbert who goes out especially to buy Pip strawberries, but when it comes to being hospitable to people who Pip grew up with like Joe Gargery, Pip is at the very least unwelcoming. Pip is disgusted at the thought of Joe coming and all he can think about is his new 'friends' seeing him with the people he used to associate with. ...read more.

Conclusion

He says, no varnish can hide the grain of the wood and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself". This quotation tale compares Pip to a piece of wood and Pip's possessions and money to varnish. Here Dickens is saying that being a true gentleman requires much more than just possessions and if someone thinks they are a gentleman just on those terms then their true colours will shine through. Dickens manages to totally subvert the Victorian readers expectations to outline his role as a social critic. Dickens knew that he was in a position of influence and also knew that by writing a story like Great Expectations it would make it impossible for people to ignore it. Dickens narrates the story in first person to make people think that this story is not just something in a book and it could actually occur. He also uses the retrospective viewpoint to highlight the dual perspective of both the child's and adult's perspective. We have no actual concrete evidence of how the Victorian public took this book, all we know is that because of the huge amount of stories sold, the book must have made a significant impressions on the readers at the time. Daniel Sheedy 5JR 5E1 17/03/02 ...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. An exploration of the ways in which issues of class and status are presented ...

    Unlike Dickens, Hartley was not an egalitarian. He warned of the destruction of the upper classes as a great mistake, and in "The Go-Between" looks back to a Britain where the hierarchy of society is still prominent, recognising that even then the scars of destruction was already setting in.

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

    Pip believes that what he has done is unforgivable. However, he is wrong and should know that Joe loves him unconditionally without exception. While Pip's deep feeling of shame obstructs him from returning home, to Joe, Joe visits him when Pip is in his moment of greatest need. This is when Pip has had a complete mental and physical break down at the end of the novel.

  1. The only real gentleman in Great Expectations is Herbert. Write an essay arguing either ...

    He also led Abel Magwitch into a life of major crime, which led to both of them being jailed for a long time. Compeyson, using his position in society, shifted much of the blame onto Magwitch, which was not a very gentlemanly thing to do.

  2. The treatment of crime and justice in Great Expectations.

    .. He was making the legs of the old gentleman who presided, quite convulsive under the table, by his denunciations of his conduct as the representative of British law and justice in that chair that day. This shows that Jaggers bullies and harasses those people that he is questioning

  1. Charles Dickens views about class in the novel, "Great Expectations".

    After discovering this, Drummle abandons Estella because of his shallowness, and does not want others to know of his association to a criminal class. In the end, he dies in a riding accident because he mistreated a horse. I think that Dickens had a negative view of money and those with status.

  2. Great Expectations - Is Pip a gentleman? - How successful is he as a ...

    He isn't afraid to let Herbert to meet Joe, but he is very sensitive towards Drummle, because he thinks Drummle is of a higher status to Herbert; he thinks it will destroy his image, which he never had in the first place. When Orlick attempts to kill Pip, he (Pip)

  1. Separate Spheres: Victorian Constructions of Gender in Great Expectations.

    Hubble adds, "Or a girl." Mr. Wopsle then responds: "'Of course, or a girl, Mr. Hubble,' assented Mr. Wopsle rather irritably, 'but there is no girl present.'" Mr. Wopsle thus presents the Gargery household as operating without any sort of feminine influence. Since Mrs. Joe is the antithesis of the womanly ideal, Pip must look elsewhere

  2. Discuss the female characters in ''Great Expectations''. What influences do these characters have on ...

    Pip is also led to believe that Ms Joe bullied her husband into marrying her, most probably 'by hand'. Pip is terrified of his sister due to her being quick of hand, she beats him frequently and has even got an object called 'tickler' which is some kind of beating stick.

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