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Discuss the treatment of the theme of childhood in 'Great Expectations'

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Introduction

Discuss the treatment of the theme of childhood in 'Great Expectations' In this novel Dickens shows the treatment of childhood in many ways and through many characters. In the opening few chapters of the novel Dickens shows his opinions of childhood through Philip Pirrip otherwise known as Pip. Pip is first seen in a graveyard on his own reading the tombstones of his other family members who he never knew. The fact that the coming to life of Pip is through death shows that Dickens believes that childhood is an awful time of your life. We are told that Pip's first memories are of him on his own finding out that his family are all dead and buried in a church yard over run with nettles. This isn't a very nice memory and shows that Dickens feels there's not much fun to have when you're a child and that it's a very lonely time in your life. ...read more.

Middle

Also two other characteristics that occur a lot in the novel shows Dickens views of childhood are naivety and innocence. The innocence in Pip is shown because he is always polite towards the convict even when he's hurting him 'goo-good-night, sir,' This shows that children are brought up to be well mannered towards their elders and are too innocent to know that the man was a convict. Pip shows his naivety when he believes if he doesn't do as the convict says he will be attacked by another man, the young man, 'I was in mortal terror of the young man who wanted my heart and liver' this shows how naive children are because Pip believed in a made up man and didn't think once about questioning the convict about this man. The final way Dickens shows the horror of childhood through Pip is by the way Pip acts. Pip is always trying to make any possible improvement to himself by advancement in education and social class. ...read more.

Conclusion

Estella also shows us the cruelty of childhood in the way she treats Pip. She shows us by leading Pip on and breaking his heart several times while he's growing up. Another way Estella shows us the cruelty of childhood is the fact we are told that she is an orphan as well like Pip and she also lost her parents at a young age the fact that this has happened to both the children characters in the novel so far leads us to believe that it happened very often back when the novel was wrote and that most children were unhappy because they have lost their parents. We are given the impression at the very end of the novel that Estella's father is the convict and that they had been separated from each other their whole lives and will never meet because he dies before he gets a chance to see her. In this novel childhood comes across as being the worst time in your life and that it was terrible to be a child. ...read more.

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