Compare the ways Dickens presents the characters of Estella and Biddy in 'Great Expectations'.

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Elena Millward. 16/10/05. Great Expectations coursework.

Compare the ways Dickens presents the characters of Estella and Biddy in ‘Great Expectations’.

‘Great Expectations’ was written by Charles Dickens, who published it in monthly instalments over the years 1860-61.

The novel was set in the 1830’s, when society was very different to how it is now. The role of the upper and lower class women was completely different. If you were a lower class women you were expected to work hard, and be submissive towards the upper classes. They also had no power at all. Their fathers or husbands owned them as though they were property. On the other hand Upper class women were not expected to work, and could be a lot more free in what they did, although it was still strict. All women of all classes were expected to have children, and look after the house. This was consider to be their duty or natural role.

The two key characters in this essay are Biddy and Estella. I will be comparing the differences in the class divisions that Dickens has portrayed these two characters in. Estella is an upper class girl who lives in a large, old decaying house, with Miss Havisham. Biddy is a quite the opposite. She is a working class girl, who is very poor, and looked down on all the time. She is also Pip's friend.

In the first section of the novel, Biddy is presented to us to be a kind, caring, hard-working girl. (At this point Biddy is still growing up.) “She is pleasant and wholesome and sweet-tempered.”.

The appearance of Biddy is first described as “messy” and untidy.- “for her hair always wanted brushing, her hands always wanted washing”. There was an exception on Sundays where she made a lot more effort with her appearance.- “On Sundays, she went to church elaborated”. This was what everybody would have done, especially people who went to church. She was  very hard working, as she would work in a school, and also help Pip with his reading and writing.- “by the help of Biddy… I struggled through the alphabet”.

Pip’s opinion of Biddy at this point is that she is a very kind and caring girl, but that she is a bit messy.- “her shoes always wanted mending and pulling up at the heel”. A bit later on in the first section, after Pip has met Estella, his opinions change a little. He thinks she is a bit ugly and domestic.- “She is not beautiful”. He is comparing her to Estella.- “could not be like Estella”.

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My opinion of Biddy at this point is that she is a very kind-hearted, caring, hard-working girl. She is very polite, and knows her place in society. She is also a very typical women of her class at the time when the novel was set.

In the first section of the novel Estella is presented to us to be a very harsh, cold-hearted, emotionless, rude girl. (At this point Estella is still growing up.)- “With this boy! Why, he is a common Labouring-boy!”. This shows that Estella is quite a rude person, who does not really care what people ...

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