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GREAT EXPECTATIONS: JUSTICE SYSTEM, CORRUPTION AND DICKENS' VIEWS THROUGHOUT.

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Introduction

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: JUSTICE SYSTEM, CORRUPTION AND DICKENS' VIEWS THROUGHOUT. In 'Great Expectations', it is clear that the plot of the story is very much influenced by the judicial system of the time. Through his use of language Dickens shows us that he is looking for social reform for the corrupt judicial system of his time, and is putting across his views using 'Great Expectations'. One of the aspects of Victorian law which Dickens is condemning was that children of convicts and most orphans were failed by the government and law, (that is to say they had no rights protecting them from exploitation or to keep them safe happy and nurtured) and so would end up consorting to criminal activities in their desperation to rid themselves of poverty. The young Magwitch was made as a 'terrible, hardened criminal', wherever he went just because he was orphaned and had no home. People became scared of him and put him in jail without even helping him. ...read more.

Middle

In other words the judge favoured Compeyson, though he was the mastermind and leader because of his class, knowledge and exterior appearance. We see again how opposite today's courts are to the courts of 'Great Expectations', when we come to the scene where Magwitch is on his final trial, ill and frail. In this trial, some fifty years since his childhood, Magwitch's childhood wrongdoings are added to the list of convictions. These days juries are not told about a criminals previous misdemeanours. Also in court, many rich people would come to watch trials as a form of entertainment. Dickens describes it as a 'large theatrical audience' and talks of the drunken justice minister asking Pip if he would like to 'step in and hear a trial or two... give him a front place for half a crown... with a full view of the Lord Chief Justice in his wig and robes'. Another way which criminals were mistreated was the fact that they often be publicly humiliated in various methods, which by today's standards could be constituted as a violation of human rights and seen in only the seediest of states. ...read more.

Conclusion

I find it interesting that Dickens uses Estella and the prison as foils and puts this view across using Pip; 'I thought of the beautiful young Estella, proud and refined, coming toward me, and I thought with absolute abhorrence of the contrast between her and the jail'. The funny part is the fact that this whole statement is quite ironic as Estella is the offspring of two criminals; she should have been in Newgate from the beginning of her life according to what was done with the children of convicts in those days. Apart from judges being corrupted, lawyers also were. Mr Jaggers who definitely knew that Estella's mother was a murderer still took up her case and got her successfully acquitted, even though he fully knew she was wrong and what he was doing was dishonourable: 'I don't feel it. How did she murder? Whom did she murder?' 'Why the deed may not have merited quite so terrible a name', said Herbert, 'but she was tried for it, and Mr Jaggers defended her'...goes on to say 'Jaggers got her cleared'. ...read more.

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