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How important is the role of the convict in Great Expectations?

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Introduction

How important is the role of the convict in Great Expectations? Great Expectations is a novel written in 1861 by an author called Charles Dickens. Great Expectations starts off with Pip, the young poor boy-whose parents are dead-who lives with his aunt. He is poor and his aunt treats him badly and harshly. One day down at marshes by the churchyard Pip come into contact with a convict who is supplied food by Pip, later on the convict gets caught and this is the last we hear of him for a while. One day he gets asked to go and play with Estella's at Miss Havisham's house in return for money. Miss Havisham was a lady who was going to get married and get let down on the day of the marriage. Miss Havisham has never seen daylight since; she does her best with help from Estella to break as many male hearts as feasible. The novel continues with Pip being a poor person and he visiting Estella's but one day his luck changes. He receives a lot of money-becoming a gentlemen- from an anonymous benefactor, but Pip thinks is benefactor is Miss Havisham but he later comes to realise that his benefactor is the convict he met on the marshes. ...read more.

Middle

Pip is happy for the convicts new life but wonders why he has come to visit him from Australia without any notice. Then it becomes apparent; the convict is Pip's benefactor, much to Pip's disappointment. Pip was so sure that Miss Havisham was his benefactor; "All the truth of my position came flashing on me; and its disappointments, dangers, disgraces, consequences of all kinds, rushed in such a multitude that I was borne down by them and had to struggle for every breathe I drew." This was such a blow to Pip because he hoped that if Miss Havisham was his benefactor so that he could marry Estella. Pip talks to the convict in a negative way at first; "Stay!" said I, "Keep off! If you are grateful to me for I did when I was a little child, I hope you have shown your gratitude by mending your way of life"-that's like Pip saying 'nice of you to come but bye, go'. Pip's attitude of the convict quickly changes; they become great friends. I think that Dickens brings the convict back into the novel now because Pip and us have been led to believe that Miss Havisham was Pip's benefactor because Estella has come back into Pip's life and it fits concurrently. ...read more.

Conclusion

Pip will never forget the convict because just as he dies Pip says "O Lord be merciful to him a sinner!" Pip is saying, let him go to heaven, although he was a sinner, he changed, he became a good person. This is a very emotional moment for both Pip and us, we feel Pip's love for the convict as he pleads for him to have good health in the after life. The convict's role is important because it shows how money can change someone's life. The convict is the character that moves the plot along. The convict's character changes from good to evil to dead. The convict is used as a contrivance to elucidate the legal system at Dickens' time; if you were poor you got treated badly and if you were rich you got treated well. Pip found this out the hard way; when he was poor he had a bad life and when he received the convict's money and became a gentleman he was treated and looked after well. The convict's four appearances move the plot along. At the marshes, in the beginning, the second, when he comes to tell Pip that he is his benefactor. Thirdly the trial which sentences the convict to death and lastly his death but at least he leaves the novel and his life being loved by Pip and being thought of as a good person by Pip and us, the readers. ...read more.

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