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Great Expectations

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GCSE Prose Study: Great Expectations Through Pip's eyes we are introduced to Victorian adult society. In the first twelve chapters of Great Expectations, how does Dickens show the harsh and strange nature of this adult world? In the first twelve chapters of Great Expectations, Dickens, through clever use of language, shows the harsh and strange nature of the adult world in Victorian society through Pip's point of view. Dickens uses Pip as a narrator telling the story as a matured adult and through this narrative viewpoint, the reader can recognise the characteristics of the adult world in Victorian times, which are shaped by the experiences of Pip. Pip's childhood demonstrates to the reader the social injustices in Victorian society. Pip is an orphan taken in by his sister, Mrs Joe Gargery and her blacksmith husband, Joe, who is to take Pip as an apprentice when he is old enough. Being raised by Mrs Joe, Pip is bought up by hand, as many orphans in the nineteenth century were. He is isolated from the world in a land where only marshes lie and a graveyard stands where his parents and five brothers were buried. ...read more.


It wasn't for me I took it" Estella is the same age as Pip but seems part of the adult world, as she acts older than him due to being bought up by Miss Haversham. Because of this, she is also an example of harshness toward Pip. She talks to Pip as though he is younger by calling him "boy". This indicates that she thinks she is superior to him. She also hurts him physically: "she slapped my face with such force as she had when I answered it." This shows that she is not does not respect Pip and makes him feel of lower superiority. She acts this way because she believes she is more mature and of a higher class to Pip and that society wouldn't find this behavior in an adult at all disturbing. He describes her as being very proud, very pretty and very insulting. Pip, in affect of all her doings, falls in love with her but also wishes he never met her. He thinks the same of her as most of the adults. Dickens also shows strange behavior in the adult world in certain adults using more clever techniques. ...read more.


If this were the case in Mrs. Joes house Pip may have had a better, less painful up bringing as Joe is good-hearted by nature. "Joe gave my some more Gravy" The effect on Pip for having such a role model is that he grows up to be good hearted and kind. I think Pip respects Joe and values him as a friend as he is the only person in this adult society who values Pip. The effect of these characters, on the reader, is disturbing. This is because it's hard to believe how the treatment of orphans was and the way society was in Victorian times, which was less than two hundred years ago. It's hard to believe that for a punishment, the penalty was tar water. Great Expectations teaches people of the twenty-first century what life was like without them realizing. It also disturbs people if they consider that Dickens wrote this story based on events he witnessed in his lifetime and wrote this story to tell people the disgusting facts of this society. Dickens had his father sent to prison and so were taken away just like Pips. When Pip first receives his mysterious "expectations", his shyness and ambition combine to make him a "snob"; Dickens may be retelling his own reaction when he was suddenly hit with fame and fortune at a young age. ...read more.

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