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Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Essay

1703 words - 7 pages

“Great Expectations”, perhaps one of Charles Dickens most well renowned and regarded works, illustrates a very biased social class structure throughout the confines of the story. There are the poor, who have nothing but what they earn, “barely enough to survive” by working hard labor jobs for the majority of their life. Then there are the middle class or the “Gentlemen” who do not want but rather, have decent income and are sustained in their desires. As in modern day society, the transcendence from poor “working class” to one of a higher class is usually accompanied by the amount of wealth which one has procured. But was this social class concept what Dickens was trying to illustrate via ...view middle of the document...

His conclusion is that he is to become wealthy somehow and marry Estella one day. After some time, a large sum of money is made available to Pip from an anonymous benefactor. Meanwhile Pip believes the money to have come from Havisham thus reinforcing the idea that he is to marry Estella one day and furthering his drive to become a Gentleman. Leaving his family at the forge behind, Pip moves to the city and begins making a Gentleman out of himself. After a number of years there, Pip is reunited one night with the convict he aided so long ago, a man named Magwitch, and is dismayed to learn the he is Pip’s benefactor, not Havisham, thereby throwing away his hopes and dreams. Magwitch, who is in the country illegally, is sheltered for a while by Pip but is discovered during an attempted escape orchestrated by Pip and his friend, and is shot and killed. As he dies, so does Pip’s wealth and he is left with nothing once again. Upon his return to the country where he grew up, Pip learns that Estella was once married and the relationship, which was apparently terrible, has ended due to the man’s death. The scene ends with them together leaving the impression that they became a couple after all. Bearing the story in mind, the focus on the social class structure can now begin smoothly. (Dickens, Charles)
The social class depicted in this story by Mr. Dickens, is a common stereotype the modern day world sees around itself today. Those who in a less desirable state, or are poor, have the wish to remove themselves from their status and move up in rank amongst the societal stereotype. The modern day definition of the social class, as has been the case for centuries now, can trace every one of its roots back to the amount of money one seems to have to his or her name. Look at modern day politics for example; the poor want to see the rich taxed more so they can find some means of re-attaining that money for themselves while the rich don’t wish to give up what money they have attained. With money comes power, with power comes status and with status comes self-regard or the feeling of belonging. Thus, those with next to nothing desire to feel as though they belong by attaining that which they do not possess and ascend up the social class ladder which Dickens seems to have so lovingly painted for us to see. Its purpose, it seems to give, is to illustrate not only a common stereotypical system in which Dickens himself fell victim to in his time, but to show the concept that one must strive to be above such generalizations in order to find true happiness in the world as both we and Charles Dickens have known it.
According to Stacy Floyd, author of (The specter of class: revision, hybrid identity, and passing in Great Expectations) who seems to be in agreement with the above passage regarding the social class structure in Dickens lifetime, the social class of this story seems to come off as a representation of Dickens’s lifetime “suffering” of such conflicts as...

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