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Explain the role and importance of the convict Magwitch in Charles Dickens 'Great Expectations

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Explain the role and importance of the convict Magwitch in Charles Dickens 'Great Expectations In Charles Dickens acclaimed classic 'Great Expectations' the character of Magwitch portrays a sense of evil and kindness towards a blacksmiths son Pip formally known as Philip Pirrip. The novel helps to incorporate the conditions experienced by many people in the nineteenth century. These conditions were especially harsh on criminals, punishments were a major factor and many people feared them, punishments such as transportation for life, complete banishment, rotting jail cells and of course the death sentence were still all being implemented at the time. We learn of several intolerable punishments that the evil Magwitch experiences such as the cruelties of the British judicial system with its mass executions. Although Magwitch introduces these themes he also presents us with his other side: the true qualities of a gentleman- decency, honesty and friendship of which Magwitch has never and will never forget: the friendship that pip showed him in chapter one of this extraordinary classic. In this assignment I will analyse and explain the importance of the criminal Magwitch with close reference to chapters one, thirty nine and fifty six in which Magwitch shows both sides: the criminal side of him and then the honourable side. ...read more.


Pips life is certainly being lived to the full, he is living like a king compared to how he was living previously but he is fast running up debts and has yet to learn to appreciate that the best things in life are free: love, compassion, integrity and family, not money. Magwitch enters the scene on a typical wet stormy night. The wretched weather sees Magwitch return to Pips apartment in the upper class area of London. We are made to imagine the weather conditions; the images created in our heads from reading the novel are reinforced by the use of similes. Dickens uses the similes like "the wind rushing up the river shook the house that night, like discharges of cannon or breakings of a sea" to describe the conditions that Magwitch brings with him as he enters the scene. Pip is very anxious to get rid of Magwitch as he enters his lodgings because at this point he does not recognise this rather different Magwitch to what he was several years before. Pip at one point tries to pay Magwitch to leave once he realises who he is but he still by this point has not worked out that Magwitch is the secret benefactor that has kept Pip in the living standards of which he is now accustom. ...read more.


But he also goes onto say "She lived and found powerful friends. She is living now. She is a lady and very beautiful. And I love her!" Pip declares that he loves Estella and this brings added comfort to Magwitch knowing that Pip- his son he never had loves his real daughter of which he has never met. The novel as a whole I feel has been centred around Pip and Magwitch's qualities as individuals. They both do a role reversal from the first time they meet to the second time. Magwitch is an evil, self-indulgent criminal and Pip is an innocent honourable boy. Then several years later Magwitch does honourable an thing which changes him into a better person but unfortunately Pip has changed and is now very stuck up and snobbish. But by the end Pip realises what is important and what and who really matters which sees a serious change in Pip's attitude. Magwitch's role is very important because it helps us see how people change due to insignificant objects- money and he teaches us to appreciate the free things in life because they are what really matter. Pip and Magwitch combine to create that message and we see the changes in each character and it helps us see who is the better man and the more honourable. Mathew Atkinson 11B ...read more.

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