Critical Essays On Charles Dickens Great Expectations

Critical Essays On Charles Dickens Great Expectations-58
This is one reason that he behaves so badly, particularly towards Joe; although he feels profoundly guilty, Pip is still unable to be fair or generous to him.We see the power of class through the plot of the novel as well as its characterisation.When Pip becomes wealthy, for example, has to learn to perform a whole new identity, learning how to speak, dress, and even eat in ways that will be recognised by others as genteel.

It has been all the more provoking to the former class, that each surprise was the result of art, and not of trick; for a rapid review of previous chapters has shown that the materials of a strictly logical development of the story were freely given.

Even after the first, second, third, and even fourth of these surprises gave their pleasing electric shocks to intelligent curiosity, the denouement was still hidden, though confidentially foretold.

Some of his contemporaries, such as Karl Marx, believed that the social classes were being increasingly driven apart, divided into the two opposing camps of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

Dickens, by contrast, is fascinated not by the similarity of people in a particular class, but by their differences.

Pip has built up a fantasy of himself as someone destined to be a gentleman.

When he suddenly learns the falsity of this, as his ‘criminal’ past appears in the present in the shape of Magwitch, he is almost destroyed by the discovery, and his whole sense of self is simultaneously tainted and emptied out.

He portrays in detail the extraordinary variety of ways, in small differences of clothing, accent and behaviour, by which people show and act out their class identities and aspirations.

He is constantly drawn to characters who are at the margins, rather than the centre, of social classes: those clinging to the edges of gentility or respectability, and those who suddenly fall or rise in the uncertain world of the Victorian economy.

From the moment that Estella humiliates him as a little boy for being ‘coarse’ and common, there is no escape from the pains, desires and performance of class identity in There is little sense in the book that you can get pleasure from wealth or social status.

Miss Havisham is very wealthy but it is power and revenge that matter to her, not pleasure or self-fulfilment.


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