Dickens & characters

‘Great expectations’ is a novel about a young boy called Pip. He has bought up in a working class society but he longs to be upper class. The story follows how he makes his way to a higher class but somehow forgets who is along the way. Some of the themes in the novel are class-system, revenge, family and education. Class is a main theme and the whole storyline focuses on this, and how concerned Victorian society was about it. You could tell just by looking at a person whether they were lower, middle or upper-class. You could change class but you would have to have the right clothes, money, job and accent to fit into the way of living.

However dickens himself did not think that wealth necessarily made you a better person. Pip is the main character in ‘Great Expectations,’ he is involved in all the themes of the novel. The class system is a focal point in young Pip’s life. As a child he began to feel ashamed of who he was. He was in fact a normal boy living in a working class family with his sister and her husband. His mother and father had died leaving him an orphan. Pip says ‘I never saw my father or mother. ‘ His sister’s husband, Joe was a blacksmith. He had a fairly respectable job and earned a living for his small family.

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Pip first began to think about his place in society when he was sent to visit a wealthy old lady named Miss Havisham. It was here where he was introduced to an upper-class girl named Estella. She would mock Pip and say things such as ‘What coarse hands he has,’ and call him ‘a common labouring boy. ‘ These remarks made Pip become increasingly self-conscious and he soon began to see himself in a different light. He hated who he was but strangely still felt a great warming towards Estella. He was determined to be good enough for her.

The theme of family issues comes through strongly here as well as it would seem that Pip despises Joe for the life they lead and Pip may be seen as a stern and harsh character. When Pip writes a letter to Joe he begins it ‘Mi dere Joe. ‘ This shows how he does have feelings for him and sees him as a fatherly figure. In later years Pip is giver a large amount of money from a mystery person and with this he is trying to become a gentleman. He is still in love with Estella but still the love is not returned as she shows no emotion towards him. It also seems Pip wants to forget his past including his family and he begins to feel ashamed of Joe.

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