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How does Dickens describe Pips first meeting with Miss Havisham and Estella? What does this tell the reader about the class system of Victorian England?

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Introduction

How does Dickens describe Pip's first meeting with Miss Havisham and Estella? What does this tell the reader about the class system of Victorian England? Great expectations was written by Charles Dickens not as a novel, but as episodes in a journal. Dickens himself was an entertainer and serious writer. He used his books to send across a message and campaign for social justice. His books contain autobiographical aspects as he spent time as a court reporter and saw severe punishments given to poor people. The rich were always lucky and got lesser harsh sentences and the poor got harsher ones and were sent away to colonies like Australia. Debts and debtors prisons were also present in his novels and it reflects on his past as when he was a child his father often got into debt and eventually his family was put into a debtor's prison. As he was the eldest son he was sent out to work in a blacking factory at the age of 12 which he never forgot that experience. His other books showing hard Victorian lives were Oliver Twist and Bleak House, but unfortunately his work doesn't last long and he dies in 1870. The book is about a young boy whose life is changed by a mysterious run of events. ...read more.

Middle

Some bright jewels sparkled on her neck and on her hands, and some other bright jewels lay sparkled on the table. Dresses, less splendid than the dress she wore and half-packed trunks were scattered out." Pip also notices that all that was white had "lost its luster, and was faded and yellow" and that her watch and the clock in the room all stopped at 20 minutes to nine. She has never seen the sun since Pip was born and doesn't seem to care for anyone. This behavior might be linked to the fact that she had been jilted by a mysterious man years ago and since then she has never been the same. Miss Havisham then asks him some strange questions and when she asks him to play on of her "sich fancies" he doesn't know what to do and she makes him get Estella. As he calls Estella back in he feels alone and out of place and says; "To stand in the dark of a mysterious passage of an unknown house, bawling Estella to a scornful young lady neither visible nor responsive, and feeling it a dreadful liberty so to war out her name, was almost as bad as playing to order. But, she answered at last, and her light came along the dark passage like a star." ...read more.

Conclusion

It was very rigid and there were little options between the classes. There was also a harsh penal system with people who did minor crimes e.g. Molly who was nearly sent away, transported to Australia in hulks which were old warships. The setting of the book also makes it perfect for Dickens to describe the class system as the Kent marshes were places were the lower class people were, taking in the fact that he had stayed there before and London, the obvious place for the gentlemen. The word 'gentleman' is a key statement in the story as Magwitch is given a harsher sentence while his other prisoner,Compeyson, who is a gentleman, is given a much lesser one so Pip is brought up to be Magwitch's revenge on society. On the other hand though, Miss Havisham who we find out later in the book has been jilted by the same Compeyson has brought up Estella to be her revenge on men. We also see the effects used by Dickens in terms of the language between the class system when his voice changes when he gets angry at Drummel and the expressions used by Joe in relation to the ones used by e.g. Herbert with characters also having very original names. In conclusion Dickens gives us an insight into what life was like in Victorian England and differences in the class system. Emmanuel Acheampong 10t ...read more.

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