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How do our views on Magwitch change throughout the novel and what do you learn from this about 'Dickens' attitude to the penal system in 19th century England?

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Introduction

In this essay we will be discussing the life and times of the one and only 'Charles Dickens'. He was an author. A very famous and popular author. Firstly we shall discover the background of Charles Dickens; we shall also discover how powerfully Dickens background affected him as an author and child. Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and grew up in Portsmouth. His farther was a clerk in the navy pay office. At this time Dickens also worked as a clerk with his farther. But when Dickens turned 12 years old his farther started to have problems, very serious problems, financial problems. The reason for this is that he had quite a large family. In the year of 1824 Dickens whole family was sent to prison and Charles had to give-up all his home life and school because he was sent off to work in a shoe polish workhouse. Dickens was so sad and hurt because of his family's imprisonment, so what he did was write about his early life in novels, but before all of this had happened Dickens family was released from the Marshal Sea prison in 1825. Straight after this his farther sent him to the Wellington house academy (a school). When he had grown up in 1827 he worked as a clerk for a firm of solicitors in Holborn, but he hated the law so he was drawn into journalism. In 1831 Dickens was writing short hand reports of parliamentary debates for the London papers. After this Dickens started life as an author he wrote many novels such as: 'Bleak house, ''The old curious shop, ''Master Humphries clock', and 'Great Expectations'. But the most popular and famous out of the novels above is probably 'Great Expectations'. The novel Great Expectations begins with the protagonist 'Pip' strolling through the graveyard, in which his mother and farther are buried, what the author is trying to tell the reader is that Pip is an orphan. ...read more.

Middle

This explains that the author wanted to say that the soldiers were not treating the prisoners like people but like animals. When Magwitch got into the hulk he had to straight away row, "which was rowed by a crew of convicts like himself". This suggests that the convicts were used to do their dirty work and slavery. When the soldiers saw Magwitch they were not surprised to see him, "no-one seemed surprised to see him, or interested to see him, or glad to see him, or sorry to see him, or spoke a word, except that somebody in the boat growled as if to dogs". There is an atmosphere also created, "by the light of the torches". This creates a mood of tension and darkness. After this Dickens is yet again offended by the penal system so he writes, "we saw the black hulk laying out a little way from the mud of the shore, like a Noah's ark". What this quotation means is that "The black hulk" is a representation of evil, and it also means that the Noah's Ark contained animals in the biblical story - so here Dickens suggests the prisoners are animals. Here Dickens is trying to emphasise the fact that the soldiers are mis treating the convicts and they are treated like animals. At the close of the chapter Dickens writes, "Then the ends of the torches were flung hissing into the water, and went out, as if it was al over with him". The reason Dickens does this is because he wants to leave the chapter at a cliffhanger and leave the reader wondering is it really all over for Magwitch? After Pips visit to Satis house he went to a pub called the 'Jolly Bargmen'. At this pub he saw strange looking man, "he was a secret looking man whom I had never seen before". This explains that this 'secret-looking man' might want something from Pip, but the audience already knows this. ...read more.

Conclusion

were inhumane and unequal, which creates empathy towards Magwitch because he is dying and the court do not care or want to care about his disabilities. Ultimately there are no objections to he juries decisions, "it was impossible to try him for that, and do otherwise than find him guilty". This explains that the jury and law do not listen or treat prisoners as human beings but as barbaric animals, which means that the audience might have their own opinions, towards the penal system, which is what Dickens wants. In chapter 56 when Magwitch was on his court trial with all the other convicts next to him, but Magwitch despite his disabilities, he had to sit in the front, which signifies to the audience that he is definitely going to face a death sentence. When Dickens is writing this chapter in particular he writes it with some experience because he used to be a court reporter, so he put his knowledge and experience in action, also he had to create the right atmosphere. There is also an ironic twist, when Magwitch has to sit in the front of the court hall. When the jury had found Magwitch guilty, instead of over-reacting he just said, "To the greater Judgment that knoweth all things and can-not err." What Magwitch is trying to get in to the audiences mind is a visual image of Judgment day and that every one is equal, he is also trying to say that only God Knows the truth and you shall find out on Judgment day. Near the end of the chapter we discover that Magwitch is on his deathbed dying in front of Pip. This creates a scene and atmosphere of emotion and empathy towards Magwitch, "His head dropped quietly on his breast". The last couple of words, which is recited by Pip, is, "O Lord be merciful to him a sinner!" As modern readers we do not think that Magwitch is actually a sinner because we know the whole story, Magwitch died an honest, determined and loyal Man. ?? ?? ?? ?? Page 1 07/05/2007Mohson Qayyum 10G ...read more.

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