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How does Dickens inform the reader about the class system in Victorian England through Pip's experiences?

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Introduction

Dickens `Great Expectations` Coursework How does Dickens inform the reader about the class system in Victorian England through Pip's experiences? In this essay I will be discussing Dickens view of the class system in Victorian England through Pip's experiences. Class is a main theme throughout the novel even the title `Great Expectations` shows what a key feature it is during the novel. It follows Pip's ambitions and expectations of society as he grows up. Firstly I will be discussing Pip's experiences of class during his childhood at the forge. Then I will go on to discuss Pip's experiences with Miss Havisham and how he questions how class is divided within society. Then I will analyse how Pumblechook's attitude changes towards Pip's as he comes into money. Then I will look at Pip's life in London with Jaggers, Wemmick and the Pocket family. Finally I will then be exploring how Pip's relationship changes both with Joe and Estella. When we first meet Pip he is at the gravesides of his parents and five of his siblings. This straight away makes the reader feel sorry for Pip. Pip is a young orphan who is just "a small bundle of shivers" (Ch1) Pip spends his childhood at the forge with his sister, Mrs Joe and her husband Joe Gargery. Pip is often beaten as a child by Mrs Joe, but is always comforted after by Joe Gargery. "...applied Ticker to its further investigation. She concluded by throwing me-I often served as a connubial missile-at Joe, who, glad to get hold of me on any terms passed me on into the chimney" (Ch2) ...read more.

Middle

Pip learns of Pumplechook's beliefs when he reads an article in an old local newspaper whilst in a coffee room: " As soon as he had apologised for the remissness of his memory, he asked me if he should send Boots for Mr, Pumplechook? 'No,' said I, 'certainly not.' The waiter...appeared surprised, and took the earliest opportunity of putting a dirty old copy of a local newspaper so directly in my way, that I took it up and read this paragraph:" (Ch28) Mr Pumblechook has told everyone that he is the reason the Pip has a secret benefactor and thereafter becomes a local legend as the man who made Pip's fortune. Pumblechook's changed attitude to Pip when he has money is a reflection of Pip's changed attitude towards Joe. When Pip was given the opportunity to become a gentleman he forgot about all his friends and became ashamed of his background. Pip was accepted into upper class society because of his riches. However Pip found it hard to settle in, as he had been brought up by different standards. Pip had to learn to become upper class, which he did through the guidance of Herbert Pocket, Jaggers and Wemmick during his life in London Jaggers is a much-respected London lawyer who is the key figure in the mystery surrounding Pip. He first meets Pip in Satis House and later when he tells him he "will come into a handsome property." (Ch 18) Jaggers however is a working class crook that scares even the hardened criminals, but he cares for and respects Pip. ...read more.

Conclusion

As a child when she had called him a "common labouring boy" with "coarse hands" and "thick boots", she later tries to explain to him that she did not have a heart. After many years, Pip who is now a gentleman sees Estella in London where he falls in love with her again. She explains that she cannot have any feelings for him. Pip almost gives up on Estella when he hears that she is engaged to his enemy Bentley Drummle. However a couple years later when Pip goes to see Joe and Biddy he visits Satis House and finds Estella unwedded. Estella finds that deep down she does actually love Pip. Throughout Great Expectations, Dickens explores the class system of Victorian England, using characters such as the poor peasants of the marsh country like Joe, the middle class like Pumblechook and the very rich like Miss Havisham. The theme of social class is the novel's main plot. Pip is one of the many characters in the novel, which aspires to gain wealth. Pip's aspiration to become a gentleman is fuelled by wealth. Pip is at his most worthless when he is obsessed by becoming a gentleman and despises common people. Dickens does not object to wealth and social position only to people's false beliefs that make them try to improve their breeding and riches forsaking everything else. Pip grows to realise that wealth and social class are less important than respect and loyalty. Pip achieves this realization when he is able to understand that despite the respect he has for Estella, someone's social status is in no way connected to someone's real character. ...read more.

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