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Great Expectations

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Introduction

How does Dickens appeal to the sensitivities of his Victorian readership in the opening chapters of 'Great Expectations'? The Victorian society was a hard and bleak place for most people. Only a few families were wealthy. In the Victorian times there were only two social inequalities; they were either really wealthy or extremely poor, with many children being orphans due to a high death rate. The country was at a critical time in its history ( Being a dominant empire) when Benjamin Disraeli introduced the Education Act in 1880 which made schooling compulsory for infants. This law was introduced to help the upbringing of the United Kingdom, as most of the state were illiterate - Poverty was a massive problem. For example, to educate more people to become doctors and to find cures such as cholera. Cholera is an acute, diarheal illness caused by infection of the intestine, this diseases was very common in the Victorian times and could sometimes be fatal. Crime fascinated Victorians at the time as they were very religious; criminals were referred to as animals. One of the reasons that newspapers were bought was to read about what was happening. In1888 a paper called the star was reporting the case named 'Jack the ripper'. ...read more.

Middle

The initial setting of the book would also interest the reader as the description is " This bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard". This would appeal once again to the sensitivities of the Victorian readership as they enjoyed gothic literature. It also quotes "raw and dark". This connotes bad, cold and windy, once again this is gothic literature. This is a technique called pathetic fallacy to create an eerie setting which creates mystery. This is in contrast with the landscape that the readers were familiar with as they are living near or in a town, with plenty of people about. In the early chapters a criminal is introduced, crime was introduced early on to keep the reader interested as crime interested them, however people who did commit crime were thought to be inhuman. Dickens was aware of this so he made the criminal sometimes be referred to as a animal. As the was described as eating "Ravenously". This connotes he is eating like an animal would. This would appeal to the sensitivities of the Victorian audience as they always wondered where to draw the line between good and bad. And if you were bad you were thought of as inhuman. He is once again described as an animal as Pip says "I had often watched a large dog of ours eating food; and I now noticed a ...read more.

Conclusion

The book challenges morals a lot of social attitude. At the time Briton had great expectations being a dominant empire (Took control over India, south Africa and many more). This is what lead people to start moving up. People were able to start business and get more money. You used to be born into your social standing but you could now move. The book Was used in parliament when Benjamin Disraeli was thinking about changing women's status. In fact, many social reforms developed as a consequence of this novel and other like it. Overall this book really does appeal to the sensitivities of a Victorian audience, even at the time being very controversial. You had an opinion as a Victorian you were strongly against the idea of women having rights or you were strongly for the idea. There was no middle. After the success of this book Dickens became well known and wrote several other books such as Oliver Twist. Because of his success he stopped serialising his books and was commissioned to write full novels. There is a social message in this book about criminals, how all people make mistakes however people can change. All you need is forgiveness. And if you cannot forgive you are almost as bad as the criminal. By Alex Garrett ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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