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Representation of Women in 'Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens and ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee

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Introduction

GCSE English and English Literature Coursework Wide Reading 'Compare and contrast the representation of women in two novels' This essay will compare and contrast the representation of women in two novels; 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens and 'To Kill A Mockingbird' by Harper Lee. 'Great Expectations' is a pre 1900's novel, written in 1860-61, whereas 'To Kill a Mockingbird' was written in 1960 and set between 1933-35. When 'Great Expectations' was written, the social structure of England was changing. Educational opportunities had increased, therefore making economic prosperity possible for more people than before. This said, the middle and working classes were suspicious of each other, and were frowned upon by the upper class. The novel is set before the expansion of education, so trying to illustrate how negative the old education system was. The central character in this novel suffers from this. The legal system was amended during the nineteenth century; from the time when the novel is set you could be executed for many crimes, and Magwitch, a convict who was sent to Australia, is set to be executed for returning to England; where as in today's society may be able to escape imprisonment. ...read more.

Middle

Scout describes a meeting with her as a 'ruthless interrogation'. Like Miss Havisham, she is genuinely nasty, but unlike her, doesn't front her feelings. Miss Havisham sends for Pip as a young boy to visit her and her beautiful daughter, Estella. The aim of this is to taunt and patronise Pip, and get him to fall deeply in love with Estella, but at the same time she treats him scornfully and makes malevolent remarks about him. Miss Havisham has trained Estella in this way, for one reason: to take revenge on the male sex after she was jilted. This selfish way is how she spends her life, and has corrupted her daughter in the process. She is represented as a greedy woman, who gets satisfaction from a boy saying that her daughter is pretty: 'Does she grow prettier and prettier, Pip?' And when I said yes (for indeed she did) would seem to enjoy it greedily', when she knows his heart will be broken. She indirectly teaches Pip about the importance of family, your roots and the ability to forgive. When Pip is older, he revisits her, and shows his anger after understanding her actions. ...read more.

Conclusion

The similarities between Mrs Joe and Aunt Alexandra are evident in small proportions at the start, with them being uncompromising and oblivious to views of others and continue up until Alexandra becomes more sensitive when the similarities vanish and the contrast increases. Miss Havisham and Mrs Dubose both intimidate the two children and are not liked, but Miss Havisham is a selfish character, concerned solely about seeking revenge, and Scout misunderstands Mrs Dubose until she dies and Scout discovers the courage that she possessed to fight her drug addiction. I have the most sympathy for Mrs Dubose, purely for the fact that she directly taught Scout and her brother an important lesson. I feel that she has been represented as the strongest out of the four women characters, and the only real fighter. Aunt Alexandra became somewhat of a 'changed character', at the beginning her sometimes prejudice views and traditions stemming from the fact that she is a southern American woman, who had been brought up like that, and she did change for the better towards the end of the novel. Miss Havisham's bad side outweighs her good, and Mrs Joe has been portrayed as an evil woman so no sympathy can be due there. ...read more.

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