• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What Role does Social Class play In Great Expectations

Extracts from this document...


What role does social class play in Great Expectations? What lessons does Pip learn from his experience as a wealthy gentleman? How is the theme of social class central to the novel? Social class is central throughout the novel, and is the basis of which the plot is woven around. At the start of the novel Pip looks at the graves of his parents and tries to find out what people they were and what role they played in society. At this stage he is totally innocent of social class and has yet to find his 'great expectations', it is the only time in the novel that he is happy or at least unaware that he isn't and this is a reflection on his innocence of his social standing. This all changed however when he met Estella and for the first time he became aware of his social class. In their first meeting her arrogance and superiority is laid bare as Pip calls Estella 'Miss' while she dismissively calls him 'boy'. This is later highlighted in the scene when Estella is shocked that she has to play with a 'common laboring boy' and mocks him for calling knaves 'jacks'. ...read more.


This is also shown by Pip's behavior with Joe, when he comes to London. Joe had been the only character in Pip's childhood to have ever shown Pip any love, or consideration. However Joe's visit to London is almost the entire opposite thanks to Pip's new founded class and Joe's social anxiety. Pip is ashamed of Joe, much like he was at Miss Havishams as a child, by his poor eating habits, his bad grammar and by what clothes he is wearing - 'as the time approached I should have like to have run away'. Pip is ashamed by his past and previous class, and I think inside he would like to believe he always was the gentleman he tries to be at the time. Furthermore, in the opening chapters of Volume Two, Jaggers reminds Pip that he will still have to be called 'Pip' however Pip is delighted with Herbert's nickname for him: Handel. Pips behavior is synonymous with his desire to be of a higher Social Class than he was, when he started out. In Great Expectations, I think the main idea that Dickens is trying to get across, is that loyalty, affection and conscience are more important than Social Class. ...read more.


When Pip inherited his money he learnt the habits of a gentleman but does not learn the true values of one. This is highlighted in many ways through Herbert's unmistakable air of a gentleman even though he was poor; and the insecurity Pip feels of his social status when he gets the boy who mocked him dismissed. However more importantly is Pip's situation at the end of the book. After he goes into debt he must work his way, through being a clerk of Herbert, out of it. In this way he will become a true gentleman instead of the snobbish impersonation that he was-'the one good thing he did in prosperity, the only thing that endures and bears good fruit.' I think this shows how Pip has grown up, throughout the novel and how he comes to realise that Inner worth is more important than social class. Once ashamed of Joe, he now proudly accepts him into his life. Once horrified of Magwich he now holds his hands and calls him his father. It shows how much he has matured; and how he accepts people by their personality and not by their appearance. ?? ?? ?? ?? Felix Rennie 02/02/2008 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Great Expectations section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Great Expectations essays

  1. An exploration of the ways in which issues of class and status are presented ...

    Hartley, in "The Go-Between" also presents the aspiring middle class in the Maudlseys whose social rise is the result of money. Although, arguably, Hartley's Maudsleys do not gain greatly from their rise, which contributes to the mental downfall of Mrs.

  2. Examine how Dickens deals with the issue of social class in Great Expectations.

    Bentley Drummle, "a blotchy, sprawly, sulky fellow" represents the malicious and conceited nature of various upper class citizens, the idle rich that Dickens despises. The coarse and cruel Drummle, a member of the upper class, provides Pip with evidence that social improvement has no natural connection to intelligence or moral worth.

  1. Parallelism's Role In Great Expectations

    Joe and Miss Havisham are both characters who are cruel to Pip in the beginning of the novel and they both turn out to be bedridden and destroyed before they die. The parallel outcomes of these two characters show how two common characters, though different in many ways, may in the end have the same outcomes.

  2. Great Expectations. Discuss how the theme of class is explored through the first part ...

    happy Joe is even though he's got a wife who beats him and disrespects him. Mr Joe is part of the working class and he makes this palpable as when Joe dresses out of his working class clothes for example in a suit he seems very uncomfortable and wearing a suit is unknown for him.

  1. Great Expectations - Theme of class

    The first chapter is where Dickens shows off his writing skills. The narrative hook of an orphaned boy living in a dire way is enough to draw any reader's attention. This is a typical bildungsroman opening as we see an innocent child and we'll follow him from his childhood to maturity.

  2. The moral theme of Great Expectations is quite simple: affection, loyalty, and conscience are ...

    Great Expectations (1860). Great Expectations by Denice Van Der Putten The novel opens in the marsh country of England, land raw and wet, where Pip stands alone in a churchyard in front of seven gravestones, under which are buried Pip's mother, father and five younger brothers.

  1. What does Dickens reveal about social class in 'Great Expectations'?

    Compeyson, his old partner in crime and Miss Havisham's deserter is following him trying to inform the police on him. Pip, Wemmick and Herbert attempt to smuggle him out of the country but Compeyson finds them, followed by the police.

  2. Comment on the Role of Imagery in Great Expectations.

    The point here is that Mrs. Joe has this apron "stuck full of pins and needles" and can be depicted as a fortress herself because of the appearance of her apron. Mrs Joe is an aggressive non-approachable kind of person and the pins and needles present her personality quite deeply.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work