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Great Expectations By Charles Dickens - ­Explain the importance of social or economic status in the novel.

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Introduction

Gareth Carey Great Expectations 25th March 04 By Charles Dickens Explain the importance of social or economic status in the novel. In 1861, Charles Dickens was at the height of his fame and wrote what is said to be, "Dickens finest novel" the book he wrote is called "Great Expectations." The hero of the story is Phillip Pirrip, better known as "Pip." The book is set in Victorian England and goes on to trace Pip from being a small boy, to a grown man with "Great Expectations." Pip wishes to much better off because of infatuation with a middle class girl "Estella." Pip is an orphan, both parents tragically passed away, along with seven brothers. This suggests that his family were not too well off, dying from maybe disease or under nourishment. (Lack of medical care) Joe Gargery and Pip's only sister, Mrs Joe Gargery, bring up Pip. Mrs Joe Gargery is very bitter about having to bring her younger brother up (Pip) by hand. They all live together in a forge; this is attached to Joe Gargery's business, the blacksmith. As Joe Gargery is of a "working class" this means that he is bringing in enough money for clothes and food. Although they have enough money for clothes and food they do not spend excessive amounts, they try to save as much money as possible. ...read more.

Middle

Magwitch is first shown starving, dirty, with broken shoes, and heading for the gallows (the gibbet image at the end of chapter one). Later we find that Magwitch got most of the blame for Conpeyson's crimes, this is because people with a "higher status" are better treated by the law than people with a lower status such as Magwich, and the blame would be shifted onto him. Even when Magwitch is rich, it still isn't enough to raise him higher up the "social status" ladder and he still remains at the bottom. This shows that once you are at the bottom of the social status there is no escape from the powerless class. Magwitch has very crude manners when it comes to eating and speaking. "Tell us your name!" "Quick!" Magwitch demands Pip to tell him his name fast. "Tell" "Quick!" In London the situation for girls was also very bad. There were around thirty thousand child prostitutes. Magwitch had a woman called "Molly." She too was violent just like her man, Magwitch. She strangled another woman to her death in a jealous rage over Magwitch; she also threatened to kill hers and Magwitch's daughter, "Estella." This shows just how desperate she was. She was so desperate she would even go as far as killing her own child. ...read more.

Conclusion

Jaggers has a fairly large London house and a servant. [Molly] He has rich meals served with wine. Matthew Pocket - Matthew Pocket inherited some wealth and now he makes a living training young men in finance. Miss Havisham - Miss Havisham is a respectable middle class lady, who is rich but eccentric - she lives in a mansion with her adopted daughter Estella. Miss Havisham inherited wealth from the family business, the brewery. Mrs Matthew Pocket and Bentley Drummle - Mrs Matthew Pocket and Bentley Drummle are of the highest status but are also awfully snobbish. [Quote] The conclusion: It is only at the end of the story when Pip finds out just how generous Magwitch was to him. Estella works her way up the socio-economic status ladder end by the end of the novel she is almost at the top. When Estella was born she was "rock bottom" of the socio-economic status ladder, and then when she was adopted by Miss Havisham she worked her way to middle of socio-economic ladder. Then when she eventually becomes at the top of the ladder it is through marriage to Bentley Drummel. Pip realises who his true friends are, Joe and Biddy. He helps Herbert Pocket to set up a business and is no longer a snob. The moral of the story is that His "Great Expectations" were a curse, not a blessing, and socio-economic status is not real human worth. ...read more.

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