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The treatment of crime and justice in Great Expectations.

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The treatment of crime and justice in Great Expectations Dickens presents his view of a harsh legal system because his father was imprisoned when he was a boy. This could have biased his View against the legal system. Also, when becoming a journalist Dickens was a court reporter and Dickens became tired of the limitations of the legal system. The most popular form of justice for a crime to the legal system was execution. The executions were held publicly and this meant the general population were accustomed to death. This made the legal system was seen as an entertainment. Another way of showing this is the two heads that are in Jaggers' office. They are seen as his two most famous clients. The fact of him having them on display means that the law side is a sideshow to the spectacle that crime and executions provide. As many people were poorly educated, they had no idea if the legal system was correct. So, they did not question the ideas of those who were in a higher standing in society. Dickens presents a view of how suspected criminals are treated by the justice system as unduly harsh, corrupt and unfair. This view is most obviously shown in the two trials. The first trial is when Magwitch and Compeyson are tried together. Magwitch gives his account to Pip of this in chapter.42. ...read more.


This shown by how the criminals think. Dickens also showed that Magwitch stole to survive, which shows that Magwitch is not a horrible, evil villain although he may appear to look like one. It is because of this that Magwitch is given a harsher sentence compared to Compeyson. Having Magwitch explaining what happened truthfully does representing a more liberal point of view of the criminals. From this we can see that he was not a born criminal but was forced to out of necessity. In Dickens' account of Magwitch's story, the reader is directed to feel pity for Magwitch. This is shown when Joe says ' poor, miserable fellow-creatur'. Also Magwitch's own account of his life story and he became a criminal in order to survive. Which is shown in chapter.42, where he says 'a-thieving turnips for my living' Even though Magwitch is not by any means a model citizen, he displays many traits that make him in many aspects a much better person than most of the law-abiding characters in the novel. Shown in chapter.10, Magwitch sends a fellow convict to give Pip money. Magwitch sends the money in order to thank Pip for helping him at the marshes. I feel that Dickens holds out as whether Magwitch will be redeemed from his sins and be allowed to go to heaven. There is an underlying theme of natural justice coming from moral crimes in the story. ...read more.


Crime has its effect on Jaggers and Wemmick. Jaggers washes his hand after every time he has contact with criminals. This is a way to wash away the sins. This is also used in the play Macbeth. This shows that Jaggers sees in himself that he work in an awful system. Whilst Wemmick has a complete alter ego when he's not around Jaggers. Crime is the driving force of the plot. At the beginning of the book, Pip meets Magwitch. Magwitch makes Pip steal for him and ever after that Pip feels the taint of crime. Crime is an everyday occurrence in the story. Even casual conversations in pubs are centred on crime, such as the scene at the Three Jolly Bargemen when Mr. Wopsle reads a newspaper article about "a highly popular murder" in chapter 18. Pip, himself, is aware of the presence of crime in both his life and London society, following his second visit to Newgate Prison where he says "I consumed the whole time in thinking how strange it was that I should be encompassed by all this taint of prison and crime; that, in my childhood out on our lonely marshes on a winter evening I should have first encountered it; that, it should have reappeared on two occasions, starting out like a strain that was faded but not gone; that, it should in this new way pervade my fortune and advancement Frankie Hine-Hughes - 1 - ...read more.

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