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Great Expectations - Theme of class

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DISCUSS HOW THE THEME OF CLASS IS DEVELOPED THROUGH PIP'S VISITS TO SATIS HOUSE. Great Expectations is a bildungsroman written in 1861 by Charles Dickens. In the novel, we follow Pip throughout the early stages of his life, as he realises his own low social status in society. Pip has a working class background and is an aspiring blacksmith, but things change and he strives for a better lifestyle. The reader sees that these are unrealistic aims as he is growing up in an averagely poor family. His ultimate aim is to become a 'gentleman' and a respected person in society. Class separation is a common theme running throughout all of Dickens' novels, where all the different classes are examined and criticized. He overemphasizes the differentiation between classes using his own experiences living during those times. Dickens, himself, always had to work hard throughout his life and witnessed the divisions between classes. In Dickens' novels, he depicts the poor as extremely destitute and barely surviving. On the other hand, the rich live a lavish and luxurious lifestyle, looking down on the working class, in his books. He tends to exaggerate them as evil and uncaring, but he is portraying life in the Victorian era. This portrayal shows the divide between hard working poor and the comfortable rich. Pip is a stereotypical example of the so-called 'common' and is a working class boy. Often we see him lesser than that, for example, when we are introduced to him for the first time, our sympathy instantly appears for him. The way we see him is pathetically sad. Whilst looking over his parents graves, in unbearably cold weather and rain, the reader feels pity for him. Dickens' has used a variety of writing techniques, such as the weather and use of description, so that we are sorry for his circumstances. This is an example of pathetic fallacy because the weather is reflected on the mood of the main character, Pip. ...read more.


Despite Mr. Pumblechook being her elder, she still speaks back to him impolitely. "Ah..but you see, she don't." The way she talks to him shows that the upper classes never respected the classes below them. We see that Estella gets her enjoyment from ridiculing those who aren't as fortunate as her. We can see, from Dickens, that the aristocracy had all the power at the time. The way she speaks to Pip also shows how much she dislikes the lower classes. "Don't be ridiculous, boy." Despite being of a similar age, Estella is treating Pip like dirt and Dickens is again discussing the fact that the upper classes controlled England at the time. Here Pip begins to feel insignificant in comparison to her. Estella expresses her view of him, which makes him realise his true colours. "He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy!" said Estella with disdain. And what coarse hands he has. And what thick boots!" This paragraph is a fundamental part of this chapter. We see Estella naming all the things about him which put him in the category of 'working class.' Estella says it with hate and Pip, awestruck by her, can only believe her. Estella is very direct with Pip and calls him a 'common labouring-boy.' This has a negative effect on Pip and we know see that Pip begins to realise his ancestry. Pip has never thought about his background before and Estella has made him realise this. "I had never though of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very indifferent pair." Pip had never considered them, but Estella's despise for them was 'contagious' and Pip began to 'feel sick' of them. The way Estella treats him emphasises the class separation between them. "She gave me bread and meat, without looking at me, as if I were a dog in disgrace." We see that Estella treats Pip really badly and that she has no care or concern for him. ...read more.


In the novel, he displays the characters almost as caricatures. He finds a distinguishable attribute to a character and then highlights to make it clear to the audience what the character is really like. For example, Joe is made to seem really weak and harmless, by the way he speaks. Pip calls him a 'fellow sufferer' at the hands of Mrs Gargery. This also makes him seem weak. To make Mrs Gargery seem evil and hateful, she is shown to be ugly and a dictator. This has been identified as her predominant feature and the readers feel sorry for Pip. With a feeble father figure and an evil lady as her mother, we see that Pip is in a tough position from the beginning and During the whole novel, Dickens is putting through a message to all readers. He uses his experiences of the Victorian times to create this message. Dickens, himself, had certain sympathy for the lower classes and he knew how they were being treated. For instance, when the reader thinks of Miss Havisham living in a mansion uptown, we would expect her to be like royalty. Instead Miss Havisham is very grimy and not at all how we would've imagined she would be. Dickens is showing that classes are not how people expect them to be. If there was a moralistic message being conveyed in this novel, it would be that class differences may seem important, but that everyone is actually the same. Our personality is actually shaped by the way we are brought up and we must handle our weaknesses and use our strengths to our advantage. In conclusion, all of Pip's visits to Satis House envisage the subject of class. Whether it was Estella being direct to Pip, Pip realising his own social class, the need for money that drives Mrs Gargery to send Pip to Satis House or Miss Havisham's ruthlessness towards Pip, class remains a major factor throughout the novel. It's this class that makes young Philip Pirrip realise that he can better himself and have Great Expectations. ?? ?? ?? ?? Devang Gandhi 10P 6 ...read more.

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