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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
  • Essay length: 1433 words

Social and Historical Background to 'Great Expectations'.

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Social and Historical Background - When the book 'Great expectations', was written a 'real' education was unachievable. Miss Woples School, which dickens uses in his book is a prime example of parents sending their children to 'school', to a teacher who knows little more than the child, Dickens is trying to indicate how negative the educational system was, maybe because it failed him. Any crime had severe sentencing, which indicates that the legal system was still evolving. The character Magwitch, who played a role in Pips life, was sentenced to Australia, returned to England to help his savoir Pip, but is then executed for returning. In Victorian times, family life for the middle and upper class was extremely important, as the families were large and living together in big houses, life was very comfortable for them and enjoyable. Poor and working class families, such as Dickens's were forced to work in factories doing dangerous jobs. Children were being exploited, into doing harsh dangerous work, for little pay and no gratitude. Families were forced to eat scraps of food and to drink water from drains. The mother of the family was in charge of the organisation of household and social events, such as dinner parties. She was in charge of the upbringing of the children, by using any means necessary, this included whipping and canning of the child, to teach the child the differences of right and wrong, a power which some mothers obviously would have abused.

Middle

One day while visiting the graveyard, where his mother and father are buried, Pip meets an escaped convict who demands food and a file, to break his chains. Fearing for his life, Pip complies. Little does he know that this terrifying act of kindness will affect the entire course of his life. From an early age pip wants to be able to read and write. After this Pip is called upon by Miss Havisham, who has been deserted by her future husband on their wedding day. Miss Havisham feels destroyed by this and is planning to have her revenge on the male sex. She has adopted a daughter, who she is rearing to wreak her revenge, unfortunately Pip is the prime target. After meeting and being demeaned, because of his clothes and wealth, by Miss Havisham and Estella, he begins to envy the rich and longs to become a gentle man. Then Pip falls in love with Estella, but at the same time Miss Havisham is psychologically torturing him. He becomes ashamed of his house and upbringing. Pip expected Satis House to be great and help him on his quest to become a gentleman, but unfortunately this wasn't the case, his poor home upbringing did him more good, which later Pip realises. Background on Estella Estella was adopted from a very young age, because her mother was too poor to look after her, she was adopted by Miss Havisham.

Conclusion

Compared Joe "You know, pip, as you and me were friends, and it were look'd for'ard to betwixt us, as being calc'lated to lead larks." And Miss's Joe "Youll'e go tomorrow". There is a very clear and noticeable difference, between their language. That audience would see this and would help for the poor and rich to link themselves with the characters. Conclusion I think that Charles Dickens's, 'Great Expectations', was a self-portrait himself, some of the events which had happened in his life, and in general everything wrong with society through his perspective of it. Dickens had visited the homeless on many occasions and I believe that his passion to help the poor was the inspiration for his writing. Everything happening in the book, uses Pip and Estella, because he was trying to demonstrate, childhood in Victorian England. He uses Pips schooling, to demonstrate the failure of the educational system. He uses Pip and Estella's relationship to show how girls were being brought up. He uses the criminal justice system to show that a prisoner has escaped from prison, who is serving life for a crime which was insignificant and he didn't commit. To conclude I think that 'Great Expectations' was a very entertaining book, which was enjoyable to read and write about, but also at the same time had a meaning to the audience at the time, and also helps us to understand how society worked in Victorian times and mainly what was wrong with it!

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