‘Great Expectations’ is a novel written by Charles Dickens. The novel was written in the early 1860’s. The genre of ‘Great Expectation’ is bildungsroman. This shows a story of an individual’s growth and development within the context of social order. In ‘Great Expectations’ we see Pip the protagonist transform from a poor working class boy to a snobbish wealthy gentleman and from his behaviour as a gentleman he realises his mistakes and matures into the Pip who narrates the novel. This novel explores social class, which Dickens was particularly interested in. We notice this because Dickens puts his own opinions about social class into the book. For Example, the divisions in the social hierarchy between the rich and the poor. In Victorian times, class played a major role. It affected the way were treated and there was no sense of equality, this is why Dickens puts his own views in. It could be said that ‘Great Expectations’ reflects certain stages of Dickens’ own life. His father was sent to prison and this may explain the character Magwich the convict. Manipulate
Most novels are written to entertain, but ‘Great Expectations’ is different. ‘Great Expectations’ it is there to entertain but it also gives important messages about class. Dickens had strong views about the separation of the classes. He knew the differences between the upper class and the working class and he hated it. He wanted equality in society. The poor were treated unfairly in Victorian society and by using this book he tried to change how the working class were seen.
He tried putting the working class in the limelight. He made it out as if the upper class were decaying and they did not deserve the luxury they were living in. He believed the good people deserved the luxury (in his case the good people were the working class citizens). This is why Dickens is biased in this novel. He favours the working class and makes them out to be the better people. As an audience we prefer the younger Pip, this is because younger Pip is a genuine person and we made to like him. We sympathise for younger Pip straight away. In the opening paragraphs of the novel, we see Pip extremely sad whilst he is looking over his parents graves; from this we begin to like Pip. But as Pip grows older we begin to dislike him. As he turns into a gentleman Pip turns into a selfish, snobbish person. From the comparisons we can see how the upper class are and how the working class are. Dickens makes us hate the upper class and he makes us favour the working class.
Pip’s life is suddenly changes when he visits Satis House. Pip’s whole perspective on life changes and it is from this point the novel actually begins to take place. Pip is forced to go to by Mrs. Gargery, if Pip refuses to go Mrs. Gargery says she will ‘work him’, this could be some sort of hard manual labour. Mrs. Joe believes that Pip should behave appropriately; this is because she is
hoping Miss Havisham will provide them with money. But Pip is glad to go because Uncle Pumblechook will stop irritating him. Pip and many others have high expectations of Satis House. They also believe Miss Havisham has a wealthy, affluent lifestyle. He expects it to be a luxurious, rich house with a large amount of wealth in it. But his expectations deserted him as Satis House has no sense of luxury in it. Satis House is filthy and the house has no pride about itself. He also finds Miss Havisham to be a completely different person. She is no arrogance in her like most upper class people. She is not an optimistic person but a very a very pessimistic person. Pip should be feeling excited because lower class people do not get these opportunities, but Pip is not excited at all. “The cold wind seemed to blow colder there, than outside the gate”. This shows us that Pip isn’t excited but this whole experience seems some what disturbing for Pip. Pip may be sensing a creepy, dead spirit which is lurking around the house
During his visit to Satis House, Pip meets Miss Havisham – a rich woman who cannot let go of her past. Pip is unsure about what to expect on his arrival. Pip has always interacted with working class people all his life and to interact with upper class people will be something different. Miss Havisham is a weak willed, ageing women and she claims that her heart is ”broken” since her wedding day and because of her wedding day trauma she has frozen everything to remind her of that time. “a clock in the room had stopped at twenty minutes to nine”, this is proof that Miss Havisham cannot let go off her past.
On a certain date an important event must of happened at twenty to nine and she cannot forget it. Miss Havisham is old and frail and seems to be much older than her actual age. She is wearing a wedding dress and she has been wearing that since her wedding day. “The bride within the bridal dress had withered away.” This shows us that she is still dressed in her wedding dress .Also that Pip sees Miss Havisham as a dead like figure, Miss Havisham is decaying in her own wedding dress. Her memories mean too much to her and she is incapable of getting on with her life. We can see that Miss Havisham is an upper class woman because of the wealth that is depicted in Satis House. “She was dressed in rich materials-satins and lace, and silks-all of white”. Although the house is dirty we can see from this quote that there is wealth in it. The dialogue between Pip and Miss Havisham is very short. Not many words are said in their sentences. From this Dickens shows that the upper classes are cold-hearted and do not to care about the lower classes.
Dickens chooses to go against our prospects of what Satis House will be like. We would expect it to be a beautiful, well crafted home. But instead of this he displays Satis House as a dirty, dark and miserable house. Through Pip’s descriptions we are able to see that this house has awful living conditions. From the exterior of the house we can see that Miss Havisham seems like a prisoner in her own home. “Some of the windows had been walled up..or..rustily barred.” We notice that Miss Havisham wants to be separated from the outside world. Pip’s visit seems to get worse, as he enters the house a theme of darkness seems to be in it.
“No glimpse of daylight was to be seen in it.” The light element had been abandoned in the house. This creates an eerie atmosphere and we are beginning to think why Dickens is displaying the house like this. The main room is by far shown as the worst. We see large amounts of decay in this room, Pip says that the centre-piece was ‘heavily over-hung with cobwebs’ and had ‘black fungus’ covering it. The description of the house is totally unexpected and we question, why has Dickens presented the house in this horrid way? Dickens is saying that not everything is at seems and that we should not expect the upper class to live in rich, lavish houses. This point could also be reflected on to the personality of an upper class. We can say that the upper class are not all nice, giving people but they can be spiteful, selfish people.
We witness that Miss Havisham has a certain grudge against the male gender. Since her wedding day crisis Miss Havisham has grown to hate men. Miss Havisham tells Estella that she can break Pips heart. “You can break his heart”. We can see that Pip is a pawn in a one of Miss Havisham’s sick little games. We can see that Estella is learning Miss Havisham’s horrible habits; she is learning how to abuse people’s feelings. She is betraying the trust of people and these are not good features of ones personality. From here the theme of class is developed, we see the attitude of Miss Havisham and Estella and we are led to believe that these are typical aspects of the upper class. Dickens is making
out that the upper class are awful people, that they have no respect for anyone other than themselves and that the upper classes treat the lower classes really
badly. In this situation the working class boy Pip is taking all the abuse given to him by Estella and he is despite this Pip is still treating Estella and Miss Havisham in a respectful manner. Here, Dickens is showing us how discourteous the upper class people are and how respectful the working class are.
When Pip enters Satis House the first person he meets is Estella, a young girl who is about the same age as Pip. As soon as Pip sees Estella, he falls in love with her. From here we can see the separation between the two classes. Estella does not treat Pip with respect but as Pip says a dog. “She gave me bread and meat, without looking at me, as insolently as if I were a dog in disgrace.” This shows us that Estella treats really badly just because of his status in society. We know that Estella treats Pip this badly because of him being lower class because. Estella treats Miss Havisham who is obviously upper class with great deference but when Estella is in Pips presence she treats him with great disgust. Also, instead of calling Pip, ‘Pip’ Estella chooses to call him ‘Boy’ which shows she is treating him with disrespect due to him being a working class citizen. Estella says many things which really hurt Pips feelings and changes his perspective of life.
“And what coarse hands he has. And what thick boots!” Estella points out the things which show the inferiority of the working class. Estella also chooses to call him a “common laboring-boy!” Pip takes in all the abuse he is receiving from Estella but due to his admiration of Estella Pip chooses to stay silent. After the cruelty he has received from Estella Pip begins to cry in the courtyard and he now realises who he is and where he has come from. “As I cried, I kicked the wall, and took a hard twist at my hair; so bitter were my feeling” Pip has know realised his lineage and he would want to end it. Estella. “I want to be a gentleman on her account,” He wants to become someone greater, he wants to be a gentleman and he wants to be someone greater only for Estella.
After Pips visit to Satis House Pip notices the difference between upper class and working class, between him and Estella. He hates the difference and he wants to be a gentleman not a blacksmith. Pip thinks that if he has any chance with Estella he has to become a stereotypical upper class man. Pip’s mind has no become poisoned with Estella’s words and even though he is not yet an upper class person he is beginning to think like one. His attitudes towards Joe have changed. This is where Pip’s transformation begins to take place and from here the title of the novel comes into the picture. The expectations he wishes to achieve are great. From this chapter we can see the separation between the rich and poor.
Joe is an average working class citizen and we now that Pip greatly respects him, he says Joe is a “sort of Hercules in strength”, showing us that Pip loves the fact that Joe has an impact in his life. But after Pip meets Miss Havisham and Estella his views on the lower class and Joe change dramatically. Instead of Joe being a role model for Pip like he was before we now see that Pip looks down on Joe and often refers to him as a ‘dear fellow.’ “I determined to ask Joe why he had ever taught me to call those picture-cards, Jacks, which ought to be called knaves” Pip begins to blame Joe for the mistakes he had made at Satis House, these mistakes did not impress Estella and this angers him. The words of Estella has poisoned Pip’s he is beginning to turn against Joe, one of the only people Pip cares about
Pips brain was then beginning to behave as if he was one of the upper class citizens and he is beginning to think like one. Pip has always been happy about being working class laborer and him becoming a blacksmith, this attitude from Pip is certainly unexpected. “I wanted to make Joe less ignorant and common, that he might be worthier of my society.” He wants Joe to become a great person rather than a working class blacksmith because he fears that Estella might think lowly of Pip and Joe. Pip refers to Estella’s class as ‘my class’, which shows us that Pip already believes that he is one of them.
Towards the end of this chapter the scene in the courtyard is very important. This is where Pip is realises he is a working class citizen. “They had never troubled me before, but they troubled me now, as vulgar appendages” Pip realised his working class features, the features that only the working class have. He describes these as “vulgar appendages” which shows how much he hates them. The whole system of class have poisoned Pip’s mind. This is one of the messages Dickens is putting through. The fact that trying to be someone you are not plays with your mind. Pip wants
Pip is portrayed as an innocent child with a lot of manners; we can see this through Pip’s dialogue. In the opening chapter, when the convict is holding him upside-down, despite the convict acting in an aggressive manner Pip still calls the convict ‘sir’ Dickens is showing that the working class have a lot of manners and that they respect others. He is also showing us that the working class conduct themselves very well.
But with the upper class it is different; they are shown as rude, insolent people. This is seen through Estella, she does not call Pip by his name but she calls him ‘Pip’, which shows that she is treating him lowly due to his place in society. Estella does not treat Pip like a human but she treats him like a pet who she despises of.
In this novel Pip does end up becoming a gentleman. But he has now turned into an upper class citizen and this has changed who he is. When he becomes a gentleman he starts to behave like an upper class person. He is snobbish and full of arrogance. If we compare young Pip and old Pip we can see the difference in both their characters. The respect Pip once for people was lost and as he grew older he never really appreciated the things that he had received, but as a child he was more than happy about a blacksmith. Even though this did not take place at Satis House, we can still see how the theme of class is developed here. We see young Pip’s behaviour and we would assume that most working class children and well behaved like Pip. When see older Pip we again assume that the upper class people behave arrogantly and that badly just like the older version of Pip. Dickens is again comparing the two classes. He is showing us how good the behaviour of young Pip (the working class) and how bad the behaviour of older Pip is (the upper class)
During this Novel, Pip is the protagonist and is also the narrator of the novel. Pip is introduced as a small child but is narrating his ‘autobiography’ from a much older age. In Great Expectations there are two Pips. One is the narrator who is looking back on his mistakes and the other Pip is the actual character. We should notice that Pip as the narrator is looking back on his previous times and we as readers and Pip as a narrator see Pip’s transformation from a working class labourer to a gentleman. The changes Pip grows through during the book are substantial. From the changes we can see the differences between working and upper class. We see how Pip was as a boy and how he was an adult. We can compare how he behaves as an adult and as a boy and can make a judgement of how the working class people are and how the upper class people are. From Pip’s behaviour as a child we can see that the working class are the better people as they are modest. Whereas the upper class think they are superior to everyone else and they have an arrogant way of doing things.
Dickens’ language is well written and his writing is very fluent. Dickens often uses long sentences with lots of commas to put in a lot of detail about the subject he wants to describe. This helps us understand what he is trying to say. Dickens shows off a lot in his work, using his language to describe and portray a lot of information in one go. This makes the story more interesting to read. Dickens also uses repetition to emphasise a certain thing or feeling. He also uses alliteration, onomatopoeia and repetition he uses these to make a certain atmosphere which is suitable for the events which are taking place. He may use these devices to make an isolated and deserted mood. At the start of the sentences there is often equilibrium and then a ‘but’ is used. The first part is what we expect to see and when the ‘but’ is used it shows what it really is. We expect it to be one thing but it is actually another thing.
In this novel, Dickens is trying to put through a few messages to the readers. He assessed the Victorian Classes and uses his evaluations to come to a final message. Dickens sympathised for the lower classes and he knew how they were being treated. For example, when we think of the upper class people, like Miss Havisham. We blasphemy automatically have images thinking about how great she would be .But Miss Havisham is not like how we would picture her to be. She may have a big mansion but the way she is living is disgusting and the way she is behaving is not at all like the upper class people. Dickens is telling us that classes are not how people expect them to be. Dickens tells us that, we should not jump to conclusions and automatically think that the working class are poor and weak people and that the upper class are rich strong people. We should judge one on his personality not on his place is social hierarchy. Dickens wanted the working class to be treated exactly the same as the upper class. He is showing us that there is no difference between the rich and the poor. He wished that there was more equality between the classes, which there wasn’t.