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How does Dickens appeal to the sensitivities of a Victorian readership in the chapters of Great Expectations?

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Introduction

How does Dickens appeal to the sensitivities of a Victorian readership in the chapters of Great Expectations? Dickens's Great Expectations was written in the Victorian era. During these times there was a lot of poverty, but many poor people grew to be rich and upper class through hard work and determination. These people however, had to work really hard to get to this position, and they also had extremely difficult lives, especially the children. Most children had to work as hard and as long as their parents did. The common view of these children was that they were to be seen and not heard, therefore this lead them to have hard and gruelling childhoods, as they received no respect from their elders. Dickens experienced this same hardship as a young boy, and his childhood relates to the early days in Pip's life. Dickens immediately creates sympathy for Pip, (the main character), by putting him amongst the graves of his parents: ",my first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones." This creates sympathy for Pip as he was an orphan. Not only was he an orphan, but he did not have any recollection of the faces of his parents. He uses, (in a very na�ve way), their tombstones to create a mental image of them for himself. ...read more.

Middle

Dickens's character Mr Joe Garjory, a simple country blacksmith would also appeal to the Victorian reader: "Joe was a fair man, with curls of flaxen on each side of his smooth face, and with eyes of such a very undecided blue." This short description of Joe Garjory would be appealing as he sounds very simple and rural, a stereotypical country blacksmith. The reader would be used to seeing the extremes of the very rich and the very poor, as are the characters in the novel. The rich dwelled in huge elegant houses, had many servants and consumed the most extravagant food, thus looking generally content. Whereas, the poor had to work very long hours for little pay, ate barely enough to keep their malnourished bodies standing. They lived in small cramped homes usually alongside noisy polluting factories. These people would have been considered to be unhappy by the reader, but in rural England people were poor yet happy and content in their simple existence, as Joe is in the book. To the bourgeois middle class reader this would seem extremely alien. As previously stated, crime fascinated the Victorians. In most books and stories criminals were often shown as inhumane monsters, with nothing but hatred and greed, (Jack the Ripper and the character Bill Sykes from Dickens' novel, Oliver Twist, are good examples). ...read more.

Conclusion

Though Mrs Joe Garjory was as sharp as nails, and as tough as the hammer that hits them, she is a hard working cleaner: "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." This highlights again, the fact that Victorians believed that hard work lead to godliness. Her incredible hardworking nature portrayed her as almost holy. This would gain her respect from the Victorian reader. Even though she is a bully towards her husband and brother, she works to her absolute best. This would have lead to a great deal of respect from the reader and maybe they may have felt sympathetic towards her during confrontations between herself and her family. Dickens has used all these aspects to entice and intrigue the readers of his story. However, he was also a good political and controversial writer. Mr Disraeli, (British Prime Minister, at the end of the 19th Century), even read some of his work in the House of Commons. Dickens died in 1870. He left behind great morals and stories that the Victorians could learn a great deal from. One moral extracted from his work could be that you cannot spend your whole life regretting what has happened and what hasn't, as in Miss Haversham's case. She locked herself away in her house because someone had broken her heart. She remained a recluse until the day she died. At the end of the book, Estella,(mourning her mothers death), locks herself in the house also. Pip becomes her rescuer and thus history does not repeat itself! Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

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