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Explore what Charles Dickens

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Introduction

Explore what Charles Dickens Has to say about class in the novel "Great Expectations" Charles John Huffam Dickens is considered by many as one of the greatest English novelists. He was born on February 7th 1812. His father was a clerk in the Naval Pay Office. He found himself imprisoned for debt in 1824 and hi wife and children with the exception of Charles, who was put to work at Narren's Blacking Factory, joined him in the Marshal Sea prison. When the family finances were put to rights and his father was released, the twelve year old Charles became a day pupil at a school in London. At fifteen he found employment as an office boy at an attorney', while he studied shorthand at night. In 1829 he became a free lance reporter at Doctor's commons courts. By 1832 he had become a very successful shorthand reporter of Parliamentary debates in the House of Commons and began work as a reporter for a newspaper. He later became the editor of a magazine called "All the Year Round" and in fact it was in this magazine that "Great Expectations" first appeared in weekly episodes in December 1860. "Great Expectations" is the story of a boy born into the working class in Victorian England, who then comes into 'great expectations' through an unknown benefactor because of a childhood deed. Throughout this novel Dickens explores themes such as love, unhappiness, responsibility or the lack of it, snobbery, loyalty, wealth, power, pride and ambition. These themes are universal and timeless and even though the novel was written over a hundred years ago, they are still relevant today. In Victorian England people were divided into social classes based on areas like: power, authority, wealth, working and living status, life style, life span, education and culture. The society consisted of three classes; working class, middle class and upper class. ...read more.

Middle

By the end of the novel Pip has realized that money or class are no criteria on which to judge people. This was the main message that Pip's character had to deliver. This message is still relevant today like all the other messages and these Dickens portrays through this book. People are still initially judged by heir appearance and how much money they seem to have, which can be very misleading. I whole heartedly agree with this message and look forward to an age when criteria such as intellect and good nature are used to judge people by. Miss Havisham is a middle aged woman whose whim is to live perpetually in the bridal dress she wore on the day she was jilted by her lover, surrounded by the debris of her wedding feast. She lives on the proceeds of a once flourishing brewery business. Miss Havisham and Satis House, both in ruins, represent wealth and social status. Miss Havisham has stopped her life to indulge her anger, self pity and desire for revenge. Revenge is her main reason for adapting Estella, as she plans to 'wreak revenge on all men' through Estella, although her primary plan was to 'save her from misery' like hers, or so she originally thought. Miss Havisham encourages Estella to entrap Pip and break his heart, for practice, which shows the height of her cruelty. My first response to Miss Havisham was one of disgust, as she has stopped her life at the precise hour of her pain and humiliation and she seems to be feeding off that. She is cruel because she has the means to be so, if on the other hand she was not as wealthy as she is now, and had to go out to work to scrape a living she would not have time to indulge such self pity and cruelty. She seems to be under the illusion that she is the only person to have ever been hurt by a man and so this gives her the right to ruin other people's lives and shatter their hopes and dreams. ...read more.

Conclusion

She has become cynical, manipulative and cruel. She has been brought up to play with men's emotions and to break their hearts. She has become what Miss Havisham 'made' her: cold. But she is not to blame as she had suffered under the hands of Miss Havisham and she cannot change simply because she knows no other way to live. Estella is just another example of corruption by money. Dickens is trying to teach us money is not always a blessing and can have quite the opposite effect as it has had on Estella; she is no longer capable of loving. In this novel Dickens explores many issues in life, mostly love, money and social class. He successfully conveys the message that people shouldn't be judged by money, social standing or their past. He portrays the fact that love can withstand any hardship. The 21st century English society we now live in appears to be very different from the one Dickens portrayed in this novel and yet there is always the difference in wealth. There has always been snobbery towards the less fortunate. Maybe in a way Dickens was trying to warn people if snobbery and prejudice are not cast aside catastrophes such as the Jewish holocaust would come our way. The past two prime ministers, John Major and Tony Blair, have tried to create a 'classless' society, but it has always been in the human nature to think some superior to others, whether it is in wealth, social standing, race or maybe even colour. There may not now be the obvious snobbery towards other people and laws may have been passed that allows people to live harmoniously alongside each other with out fear of being discriminated against, and still I believe that is only what appears on the surface and if we pierce the skin of this surface and look closely underneath we can still see that prejudice, as was demonstrated a few weeks ago by a BBC undercover programme that exposed a few police officers who are racially prejudiced. Niloofar Bozorgi 11R English Prose 1 ...read more.

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