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Is Magwitch a criminal or a victim of society? In the novel, Magwitch describes his life as "In jail and out of jail

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Is Magwitch a criminal or a victim of society? In the novel, Magwitch describes his life as "In jail and out of jail, in jail and out of jail, in jail and out of jail." This illustrates to us that he has criminal tendencies. By the end of the novel our views change about Magwitch and we begin to see him in a different light; portraying him as a victim of society not as a criminal. In Victorian Society the justice system was corrupt this is evident when Pip visited Newgate Prison. There was a drunk minister of justice who "asked [Pip] if I would step in and hear a trial or so". Pip was taken to see where people were publicly whipped, and "the Debtors Door, out of which culprits came to be hanged". The people in this time were treated harshly and when they were hanged people came to watch, as if it was a tourist attraction. We are told that "four on'em would come out at that door [Debtors Door] the day after to-morrow at eight in the morning to be killed in a row". Killing was obviously a normality and a way of teaching people a lesson. "The Lord Chief Justice's proprietor wore mildewed clothes", this tells us that the clothes were rotting, highlighting the corrupt nature of society. ...read more.


When Magwitch is eating Pip notices a "similarity between a dog's way of eating, and the man's", this indicates to us that Magwitch hasn't been brought up with good manners, so couldn't have been well off as only rich people had good manners in them times. Also Dickens uses words we would associate with an animal to describe how Magwitch acts when talking to Pip: "glared and growled". A simile is used to describe Magwitch when he's filing the iron off his leg: "like a madman". While Pip tells Magwitch about the other man he realises whom it is straight away. We are led to believe Magwitch hates him as he says he'll "pull him down like a bloodhound". Later on in the novel Magwitch and the other convict, Compeyson, are found fighting on the marshes and Compeyson tries to accuse Magwitch of trying to murder him although Magwitch says he was making sure he didn't get away. When Magwitch says "he's a liar born, and will die a liar", it makes us think that he's telling the truth and really didn't want Compeyson to get away. When Magwitch gets on the boat back to jail "no one seemed surprised to see him, or interested in seeing him, or glad to see him, or sorry to see him, or spoke a word" illustrating to us that it happens frequently and has become a normality. ...read more.


The lost of Magwitch's daughter was down to his wife Molly. When she thought he was having an affair she killed the woman and threatened to kill the child, whom we later find out is Estella. She didn't kill her but gave her to Jaggers to put up for adoption, he knew that Miss Havisham wanted a little girl to bring up, after she was left at the alter, to be as cold as herself and to hate men. This time was the darkest part of Magwitch's life. Compeyson's death is the cause of Magwitch's death, the death sentence. While he's in jail waiting to be killed he becomes very ill and dies before he's hanged. At least before he died Pip told him about his daughter, Estella, telling him that she is well and that he loves her. Dickens wants us to feel sorry for Magwitch as when he dies Pip says "O Lord, be merciful to him a sinner!" this works and we do feel sorry for him. Magwitch, being Pip's benefactor, was responsible for Pip's success in becoming a gentleman, he realises this and is grateful. We know that Magwitch definitely has criminal tendencies as he admitted to stealing, but this was really only to survive. By the end of the novel we realise that Magwitch is a victim of society and Compeyson is the real criminal. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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