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How does Dickens use characters in Volume One to present the themes of 'Great Expectations'?

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Introduction

How does Dickens use characters in Volume One to present the themes of 'Great Expectations'? 'Great Expectations' is a novel by Charles Dickens about a young, working class boy called Pip, brought up by his sister. Pip mysteriously inherits a large amount of money and is given the opportunity to become something he thought he would never be...a gentleman. The novel explores themes such as: Revenge, Family and Education. Another theme of 'Great Expectations' is the distinction of classes in Victorian society and their importance. In Victorian times, there were lots of ways of deciphering which class a person was from, by simply looking at, or listening to them. When Pip first meets Magwitch, he notices that he is "a man with no hat", the sign of a lower class person, although Pip is too afraid to look down on him due to this at the time. Higher-class people were thought to be superior to people in the lower classes and they hardly ever mixed or socialised. There was very little mobility between classes. Victorian society is in vast contrast to our own modern society because nowadays, people are a lot more accepting of others and are less discriminative of people who are dissimilar to themselves. Victorians in higher and lower classes were treated very differently to each other, whereas in modern times everybody is treated relatively equally and status, jobs, titles and money are a lot less significant. The class system is relevant to 'Great Expectations' because this is the main theme of the novel and it is present from start to finish. 'Great Expectations' is all about the barrier between higher and lower class people and how it is shameful for higher class people to be seen mingling with people who are not of equal class, but also how the classes can all be deeply connected in someway. In addition, 'Great Expectations' also shows the bigotry and narrow-mindedness of the higher classes because when Pip's windfall allowed him to become a ...read more.

Middle

This description of Magwitch indicates that he has been on a treacherous walk to try to escape. We feel pity for Magwitch here and we feel the depth of desperation that he is really in. Magwitch seems very impatient because he is cold and hungry and in terrible pain. Magwitch is quite a violent man because we see him threatening Pip, a small and vulnerable boy in eerie surroundings. The reason he was so convincing to Pip that he would kill him is because he was literally starving to death and was in desperate need of food. He knew that the only way to get what he wanted was to scare Pip into it because he was a weak target. When Pip brought Magwitch food, he was extremely surprised because he was not expecting Pip to come back, to not tell the authorities or to bring him any food at all. Pip did not see this as an act of kindness because he was acting out of fear but Magwitch saw Pip as the only person to ever show consideration for him as he had lived most of his life in places where he was not well thought of or inhumanely treated. We also see that Magwitch is violent when he fights the second convict but later in the novel we can sympathise with Magwitch because we find out why they are enemies. The story of Magwitch is ironic because although he is of no significance or status and he is presented as such an animal at the beginning of the novel, he has the riches to become a gentleman, something he has never experienced. He has a chance to be seen differently for once in his life and yet, he gives everything he has ever worked for, to Pip, who wastes it all in a short amount of time and when he finds out that it belonged to Magwitch, he is ungrateful. ...read more.

Conclusion

He knows the pain that he has suffered and would not wish it on anybody. Joe is very content with his life with Mrs Joe and Pip, his home and his job because it is in major contrast with his unhappy childhood. Joe must not have had many friends as a child or a stable relationship with anybody because he never went to school. This makes his relationship with Pip more special and even stronger. Joe does his best to make Pip's life as a good as it possibly can be and this is why it is such a pity when Pip rejects him to go and live the life of a gentleman and leaves him alone. Joe is terrible upset that Pip feels that becoming a gentleman is more important than him but he is too scared of ruining Pip's dream that he will not confront him. Overall, Joe is the most likeable character and the one who we feel we can relate to the most because he is very down to earth and caring. We feel sorry for him because it is as though Pip has taken advantage of him and showed him the cold shoulder when all Joe ever showed Pip was love and devotion. Through 'Great Expectations' Dickens has shown us the lives, problems and happiness' that people from every type of background can experience and share. There is a moral to the story and this is not to look down on people who are less fortunate because you might not always be who you think you are. For example, Estella looked down on Pip for being from a working class, common background but she was unaware that her father was a criminal and her mother a servant. The nicest people in the novel are the ones who can accept people from all walks of life. Dickens also tried to show us that wealth is not everything. It can change people tremendously and it does not buy happiness. Stacey Wilding 10-1 ...read more.

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