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What sort of a picture of the Victorian world does Dickens evoke in the novel?

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Introduction

What sort of a picture of the Victorian world does Dickens evoke in the novel? The first experience of Pip's that Dickens shares with us is his first encounter with Magwitch, an escaped convict bound with those infamous iron chains around his legs that haunt Pip for an extensive part of the novel. It appears that there was a lot of criminal activity around at that time, and crime plays a large part in the novel right from the first chapter. To account for all the offences there were many penalties. Pip not only faces 'tickler' as his punishment at home repeatedly, but he is then terrified of being found out about stealing from Mrs Gargery by the police, because of the threat of the consequences. Though his punishment would not have been as severe as his imagination would invent, the possible punishments for people in that period must have scared him immensely. He was always very aware of the Hulks near him (because of the gunshots), and he most likely knew about transportation and execution, as well as the threats that he had been given by Magwitch before, which could easily torment a young boy with a guilty conscience. ...read more.

Middle

The poor were more often than not very badly educated, and from the novel we can see that Joe was illiterate which was common for others like him. When Pip lived at the forge, he was only tutored very basically by Biddy. 'I struggled through the alphabet as if it had been a bramble-bush; getting considerably worried and scratched by every letter.' Even though the rich had enough money to spend on education (and they did as it was the decorum to be well-educated), and that they could therefore have achieved the more respectable jobs, it is ironic that one was given more approbation if you didn't work as it was a sign that you didn't need to because your money was plenty already. Girls would very rarely work in the upper class as they were expected to marry a gentleman with ample money. Money was additionally spent on girls for such things as 'finishing school' to educate them in etiquette, which is what Miss Havisham sends Estella to, abroad. However, those who did work in the upper class would generally have had service jobs, such as being a lawyer like Jaggers, unlike the more manual jobs the lower class would have had such as a blacksmith like Joe. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, Bentley Drummle would have also been one as even though his personality is very disagreeable, he has a good background, is well educated, well-known, he talks and dresses appropriately and, most importantly, he has lots of money - which is undoubtedly why, to Pip's despair, Estella marries him. Though Pip lives the life of one for a while, he is not a Victorian gentleman as he does not have a suitable background. The proper background would have been a family in the upper class, with their children brought up in the correct way and with a respected name or title that they can claim to be theirs. However, though not having this background may be a disadvantage to Pip, it means that the reader can see both ways of life at that time as Pip has lived both lifestyles. Because of Pip's dramatic change in his way of life, it also seems that Dickens is showing how easily someone like Pip can become quickly corrupted and forget about everything they had before - a fault both in those times and nowadays. ...read more.

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