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How two chapters of Great Expectations reflect the influence of society in the time it was set.

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Introduction

How two chapters of Great Expectations reflect the influence of society in the time it was set Charles Dickens is one of the most popular British novelists in the history of literature with many of his characters being recognised in British society today. His ability to combine pathos, comedy, and most of all, his social satire has won him many contemporary readers. Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812. At 12 he was sent to work for a few months at a shoe-polish warehouse on the banks of the Thames when his family hit financial difficulty. A few days later Dickens's father was sent to jail for debt. He recalled this painful experience in the early chapters of David Copperfield. While his father was imprisoned, all his family except himself and his sister, who was studying music, stayed at the Marshalsea Prison with his father, very much like the Dorrit family at the beginning of Little Dorrit. By the time he was 25 years old, Dickens was already famous. Dickens's life influenced his writing a lot, and many of the novels he wrote were based on real experiences during his lifetime. For example; in 1832 he met Marie Beadnell and wanted to marry her but she rejected him; the comic portrait of Flora Casby in Little Dorrit is said to have been inspired by Dickens's meeting with Maria again later in life. Dickens lived in Victorian times, times when there was a lot of focus on social class and status. Victorian society was, for all the change that was taking place, a stratified, hierarchical society with a great gap between rich and poor. In his childhood Dickens was part of a working class family who soon became low class due to their financial difficulty. But when he became an adult he was of high social class while his novels kept increasing in popularity and was earning him money all the time. ...read more.

Middle

Pip finds it hard to play by orders in front of a woman he had never met before. Finally Pip and Estella are made to play cards, after some argument from Estella using the fact that Pip is nothing but a "common labouring-boy" as an excuse not to play, and Miss Havisham realises how ignorant and common he is. Pip can play nothing but 'Beggar My Neighbour', which is a common easy card game with simple rules. Estella does her best to make Pip cry by saying things such as; "He calls the knaves jacks, this boy! ...and what coarse hands he has. And what thick boots!" As though he is not worthy to be even seen by her, let alone talking or playing cards with her, he is too stupid and too common. Her crude, harsh remarks succeed in making Pip cry, and when Miss Havisham tells him he can leave, he runs out into the garden and cries against the wall. Pip is made to tell Miss Havisham what he thinks of her and Estella. He is pushed to reveal his true feelings for Estella and is made to look stupid once again after he tells Miss Havisham that he thinks Estella is pretty even though she had been so mean to him. "You say nothing of her. She says many hard things of you, but you say nothing of her. What do you think of her? ...I think she is very proud. ...I think she is very pretty." Pip also tells Miss Havisham that he thinks Estella is "very insulting", at which point Dickens mentions that "she was looking at him then, with a look of supreme aversion". Pip starts to fall in love with Estella even though she constantly shows her utter hatred for him. This chapter foreshadows the unrequited love between Pip and Estella that has yet to come. ...read more.

Conclusion

Joe says such things as; "Which you have that growed, and that swelled, and that gentlefolked..." While other higher class character use standard English in their speech; "Yes, but it is meant more than it is said. It meant, when it was given, that whoever had this house could want nothing else." Dickens often got his own view across in his writing with parts of his sentences hyphenated. Complex sentences gave his point. In this sentence he says that children who die at birth die "exceedingly early" in the struggle for their place on earth. Children in the Victorian era often died of complications at birth or childhood maladies. Many children in his own family had died at birth, although none of his children did. "...little brothers of mine - who gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle - I am indebted for..." Throughout the novel Dickens reflects social class and the differences between the rich and poor in the Victorian era. The author used his knowledge of the time and his life experiences to write his novels. Some parts of the story were from his heart, all his thoughts and feelings went into giving the reader an insight to the problems of the society at that time and what all people had to face. I think he hoped that by writing about how characters of two different social status interacted that he would perhaps change the views of people to be more accepting to others. Personally, I like this novel. I think that the way it is written gives the reader a real insight to the Victorian social awareness and how people lived by strict rules. There are some really emotional parts of this story that even today people can relate too; the different type of people that there are all over the world and people's views of them, and how wrong they actually are. I think people could learn from the lessons in this novel and the insight it gives into social standing. ?? ?? ?? ?? Stephanie Case English Coursework 1 ...read more.

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