Flaws In The Upper Class: Great Expectations By Charles Dickens

1249 words - 5 pages

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is much more than a story about a boy who falls in love with the idea of a part of the being upper class, it is about the faults Dickens sees in upper class society. During the time this novel took place, (the 1800s), the behaviors of the upper class were much more strict and conservative than they are now. Men and women were expected to have thorough educations and behave appropriately in social situations. Throughout the novel, Dickens uses satire and his knowledge of social classes to emphasize his feelings of the upper, middle, and lower class. By portraying Pip as a young boy in the lower class who works with upper class people every day, the novel conveys the marxist lens of social classes that we see in our everyday life. With the elements of the class system and Pip’s development, Charles Dickens expresses how the ignorance of the upper class affects how people portray themselves and all that matters is the character of the person.
In the start of the novel, Pip is just a young boy in the lower class who does not know much about social classes. He lives with his sister, who is called Mrs. Joe, and her husband, Joe, in the town of Kent in London. This book is actually one of Dickens’s more autobiographical ones; he is essentially Pip in this case (Bloom). Dickens considered himself too good for his surroundings, worked at a job he hated, and lived in a marsh country just like Pip does in this novel (Bloom). With all the adventures and life lessons Pip goes through, his climb from a poor country boy to a gentleman helps him make the change from one social class to another while still following the “rules” of society in England. All he wants in life is to become a gentleman, mostly so he can impress the beautiful Estella, but also for himself so he can prove his worth (Dickens). “Do you want to be a gentleman, to spite her or to gain her over? Because, if it is to spite her, I should think - but you know best - that might be better and more independently done by caring nothing for her words. And if it is to gain her over, I should think - but you know best - she was not worth gaining over.” Basically this quote by Dickens is saying if Pip is becoming a gentleman only to make Estella notice him, she is not worth it, he should want to be a gentleman to better himself.
The first part of Pip’s development from boy to man begins when he meets the convict named Magwitch. His first reaction of Magwitch is fear, obviously because he is much bigger and scarier, but once he gets to know Magwitch he grows to appreciate him. For some reason Magwitch protects Pip in the beginning when he gets captured, maybe because he sees some of himself in Pip and is curious about him (Friedman). Dickens pretty much ignores the heredity of the characters whose lives have been earned through worth, such as Pip (Bloom). Towards the end of the novel, we find out the person who gave Pip all the money was actually Magwitch because...

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