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Explore Dickens introduction of the characters of Magwitch and Jaggers in Great Expectations, and consider how these characters are developed during the course of the Novel

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"Explore Dickens' introduction of the characters of Magwitch and Jaggers in Great Expectations, and consider how these characters are developed during the course of the Novel" Throughout the novel "Great Expectations", Charles Dickens introduces his characters in very mysterious and intriguing ways, and keeps the reader guessing about their motives for the greater part of the novel. This technique serves multiple purposes; not only does it keep the reader entertained, as would be expected from a novel, it also allows Dickens a lot of scope for creating interesting literary effects, making the reader feel certain emotions and therefore making him able to convey his ideas to the reader; he effectively uses the personalities of the characters in the novel as a vehicle to display his beliefs, and give them a favourable foothold in the minds of the readers. Abel Magwitch is introduced with the direct speech; "hold your noise!", giving the reader the immediate impression that a malefactor character is about to be introduced, and it is not until the latter part of the novel that the reader finds out about his kind-hearted personality and the way he has been mistreated to the point of him becoming "rough" - in the sense that the younger Pip would find him very threatening and the older Pip would dislike him due to class issues. Of all of the characters in the novel, it is Pip's unknown benefactor Abel Magwitch; and his acting guardian, known only as Mr. Jaggers, who come across as the most mysterious. In fact, throughout the novel, it is almost impossible for the reader to achieve a complete understanding of Mr. Jaggers' personality and motives. Dickens clearly created him as a "strong" character, who would have the power to greatly assist or greatly hinder the protagonist, Pip. Magwitch, on the other hand, seems to be almost the inverse of this. He comes across from near the beginning of the novel as very open, and very easy to read into; his weaknesses and ...read more.


When Magwitch tells Pip and Herbert his story, he is fully established as a mistreated rogue character, perhaps one of a kind in novels of this era, to be a criminal for whom the reader is made to feel sympathy. It becomes known that his descent into a life of crime was not his fault, but a result of being mistreated and thrown onto the streets with no chance of living a happy, stable life. Dickens uses this sub-story as a stage with which to vent most of his beliefs. Not only does he carry on the theme of social class hypocrisy, but also suggests to the reader that the law courts are corrupted, and society in general is at fault. By the end of the novel, it seems that Magwitch is one of the most benevolent and heroic of all of the characters, despite the fact that he is clearly one of the "lowest" in social class compared with all of the other characters. However, Dickens does not encourage the reader to believe that people of a lower social class are generally better people, or vice-versa, by also creating characters of varying classes of varying levels of good qualities. Herbert Pocket is from an upper class background and remains a "good" character throughout the entire novel. Miss Havisham is from one of the most socially high classes in the whole novel, and starts out as a malefactor and leaves the story apologising and repenting for her wrongdoings. Joe and Biddy come across as very approachable and softened despite their low social status, and also remain good characters, with hidden strength and dignity discovered later in the story. Finally, Orlick and Compeyson end up being some of the primary antagonists of the story, and are from opposite ends of the social spectrum. This shows the reader that social class has no effect whatsoever on the kindness in a person's heart, and encourages readers to lose the prejudices they may have had previously. ...read more.


Near the end of the story, Jaggers seems sorry - albeit in a hidden, defensive manner - for the fact that Estella ended up being adopted by Miss Havisham, and consequently the backwards life she grew up to lead. Dickens uses small phrases like "Even Mr. Jaggers started when I said those words" in order to show the small emotional gaps in Jaggers' defensive personality. Despite the respectability Dickens builds up around Jaggers, and the small emotional gaps shown later in the novel, Jaggers does come across as generally slightly dislikeable and untrustworthy, as well as materialistic and greedy. Dickens uses this layer of Jaggers' personality as yet another vehicle for showing his moral lessons to the reader; because Jaggers' shows such little sympathy for the people he deals with in his job, and for his own assistant, molly, the reader naturally feels sympathy towards them. The reader is made to disagree with Jaggers over his views on "property" and on emotions. He is made to seem cold and unhappy, and as a result the reader associates warmth with happiness. Because so many people depend on Jaggers and he treats them so badly, the reader is generally encouraged to support the poor, defenceless, lower-class people caught up in the difficulties of the society of the era. Both of these characters have many layers to their personalities, and Dickens manages to teach the reader not to judge people on first appearances, and he also additionally uses these characters to convey his beliefs about social class and about the unjust British legal system. Because the novel is in fact set in the past (historical even during the era Dickens wrote it), the readers during Dickens' era would feel like there were mistakes in the past that should never be repeated, causing a large effect on Dickens' society, helping to spread the ideas of equality and seemingly taking on the role of a large cornerstone in the build up of the far fairer modern-day society. ?? ?? ?? ?? Joseph Fitzpatrick, 10B GCSE English Literature Coursework ...read more.

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