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What keeps a person on in life? What is it that makes people tick? Human existence, after all, is marked by high aspirations. As a result, nearly everyone possesses both psychological and social characteristics that point to high aspirations. That is what distinguishes humans from the other species in the kingdom. The plot of Charles Dickens's tale "Great Expectations" revolves around a character called Pip. Pip is depicted as an orphan from England. He later rises to prominence and amasses money, but at this stage, he looks down on his peers. His vanity, though, eventually humbles him. The novel also introduces other characters like Miss Havisham, Magwitch, Mrs. Joe, Joe Gargery, and Estella among others. As such, Charles Dickens story , mirrors the time when England was rising to power while at the same time the citizens lived in adverse conditions. The themes of love, friendship, social class, guilt among other carry the story through. This paper seeks to analyze the major themes that come out throughout the story.
Society and Class: Self-worth, affection as well as loyalty, are much more valuable than social class. That is the lesson that Pip’s gets to learn the hard way. Throughout the story, Dickens explores the social class systems of England. Her exploration is broad, as it covers the worst criminals like Magwitch as well as the Poor like Joe and Biddy, and all the way to the Middle class like Pumblechook and the extremely rich like Miss Havisham. Social class comes out as the main moral theme of Dicken’s novel.
Pip gets to learn his lesson concerning social class when he gets to comprehend that no matter how he views Estella, the social status of an individual has nothing to do with their true personality. For example, Drummle belongs to the upper class while Magwitch who is a convict seems to have better inner worth than any other person.
The theme, here equally reveals the class system that cropped up after the industrial revolution in Victorian (Bloom, 15-20). In this case, you realize that Dickens categorically decided to evade the aristocracy so that he can favor the characters who earned their fortune from the business. For one, Miss Havisham’s family built their fortune from a brewery business, that is still associated with her manor. As such, by establishing a relationship between the social class theme to work, Dickens manages to reinforce the other theme in the novel. In this case, the thee is ambition.
Social injustice: When one reads the Great novel expectations, they can get to agree with the criticism that John H. Hagan gives in his story, The Poor Labyrinth (John H. Hagan, 169-178). In Dicken’s book, social justice is evidently prevalent through the story. The people who lived in England during the 19th century was extensively unsegmented more so in matters to do with social class. Their judgmental behaviors led to several instances of social injustice. Dicken’s then uses characterization as well as an analysis of the penal system of London in the 19th century to reveal, the theme of social injustice.
In the story, Great Expectations, the characters do well in airing their varying opinions in dialogue. In the book, it is evident that those of a higher social status, despised those of a lower social status, primarily because of their place of origin. However, that was not necessarily true at all times. On page 43, pip laments, “Though she called me “boy” so often and with a carelessness that was far from complimentary, she was of about my age (Dickens, 43).” From that, it relays how Estella is not interested in knowing Pip’s name because she is a higher class, even though they are age mates. The position she holds in the society blinds her into believing that she is different from another human being from a lower social status.
Pip has the same intellectual capacity as Estella, and he treats Estella with respect. However, in no time, Pip gets in the middle of the social classes and starts acting differently. He starts behaving like t and living he snobbish lifestyle that the higher class did. By that Pip also started treating people of a lower social class differently.
Another instance of social injustice is also witnessed through Pip’s interaction with the Havishams. They were so quick to assume that Pip was simply a peasant boy. However, it is evident that when his social status changes, his character then changes. He stops being the usual understanding a sweet personality. He now becomes extensively judgmental. It thus depicted a clear picture of the England system in the 19th century (HierarchyStructure.com.). As such, it was corrupt in such a way that their appearances would evaluate the accusations made against people and not whether they committed the prospective crime. Such is a social injustice, that is even evident in the story. For instance, in the case involving Magwitch and Compeyson, Compeyson, gets a shorter sentence than Magwitch because of his appearance. Compeyson looks like a gentleman, and now that Magwitch seemed dirty, he got a longer sentence than Compeyson. Thus, throughout the book, it is evident that the story reveals various instances of social injustice, whereby people focused more on other’s social status rather than their true character.
Wealth: It’s a common saying that, ‘all you need in life is love.' However, such is not the case, in Great Expectations. In this story, love seems to be of no relevance if no money is involved. According to Pip, Estella will not love him if he stays as a blacksmith’s boy (Clamon,22). He, therefore, needs to either acquire wealth or have it made for him. However, on an outward look, money doesn’t have all the meaning and importance that has been attached to it. For example, Havisham is wealthy and can lavish Estella, is extravagant style. However, she is still miserable, just like the people who want her money. The contrast comes out, in Pip’s situation, where the Blacksmith is rich enough to settle Pip’s debt. Both Pip, as well as Herbert, are content with simply working hard to make a sufficient living. It seems like according to Dickens the only wealth one should take pride in is the one that they work for, and earn on their own.
Crime, Guilt, and Innocence: Crime, guilt, and innocence are all interrelated. The theme has been well explored in the whole story, through the character Jaggers, who is a criminal lawyer, the theme also comes out through the convicts in the story. As such, Dickens brings out the crime imagery using the handcuffs that Joe mends. He also uses the gallows at the London prison to bring out the theme. As such, this imagery of crime thus turns out to be symbolic. It depicts the inner struggle that Pip undergoes as he strives to reconcile, his moral with the justice system. Basically, in the same way, that social status comes out as a superficial standard of value to show Pip that it is important to look above a better class of life, criminal justice done a similar thing. As such, through the various trappings of the institution, including the police, the jails as well as the courts, Pip realizes that he must learn to see above and trust his intrinsic conscience.
Pip starts his life in an environment that is full of guilt. For one, Pip stays with his sister, a well as Joe who is his sister’s husband. Throughout, his stay with them, Mrs. Joe continually makes him feel guilty for living there, whereas other family members don’t have a home, but are rather lying in the churchyard. She makes him feel guilty to the extent of even beating him with a trickle to emphasize her point. One time over dinner, Pip, gets curious, and out of innocence asks several questions concerning the prison ships near Mr. Joe’s house. Mrs. Joe then gets angry thereby reprimanding Pip. She places extensive guilt on Pip (Clamon,13-15). In fact, she rises immediately and tells him some mean words, which insinuate he would grow up to be a criminal (Dickens,15). The emotional abuse that Pip goes through in his childhood cannot allow him to maintain his childhood innocence. The case is the same for Estella. The raising she obtained from her mother, cannot allow her to stay innocent. She grows up under someone seeking revenge, and who is bitter about life. In that sense, Estella grows up with the same spirit, which means that she loses her innocence at such a tender age. Hence in the story, Pip and Estella, do not have innocence because of their growing up. In fact, the adults, in the story don’t seem to realize that children are not as savage as they are treating them.
While in the environment that is ridden buy guild, Pip, comes across Magwitch and he later helps him. He helps him get food as well as getting him the file form the forge. By stealing the file on behalf of Magwitch, Pip ends up with another tangle of guilt. Dickens relays the guilt by creating a setting where Pip comes across the misty, shady and dark environment. He describes it and says, “the mist was heavier yet when I got upon the marshes so that instead of my running at everything, everything seemed to run at me. It was very disagreeable to a guilty mind” (Dickens 17).
Ambition and self-improvement: Ambition makes the world and life worthwhile.in fact, the desire for self-improvement, as displayed by Pip, it the primary drive for the title of the novel. Pip believes that he can advance. Better yet, throughout the novel, Pip, has ‘great expectations’ for his future. Intrinsically, and at heart, Pip is an idealist being. He always desires to acquire anything that is better than what he has at a given time. For instance, when Pip sees the house of Satis, he starts desiring to be as wealthy as Satis. At the same time, When Pip thinks of the moral shortcomings that he has, e also wills to be of good moral standing.at the time, when he realizes he has a literacy level, and he cannot read, he longs to acquire the know-how to read.
In the novel, the Great Expectations, Ambition, and self-improvement are in three forms. In this case, the forms range from social, o moral to educational. The three, display, Pip at his best as well as his best behaviors. Initially, Pip has the ambition to improve his morals. He gets so hard on himself whenever he does an immoral act. In fact, in such cases, he gets to feel a strong haze of guilt, which steams him, to be of better moral standing in the future. For example, when he goes to London, he beats himself up for being a wretch towards Biddy and Joe.
Another instance that brings out the sense of self-improvement and ambition is when Pip falls in love with Estella and desires to have an improvement in his social status (Bailey,102). He strongly desires to be of the same social class as Estella. Through the encouragements from both Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe, Pip slowly starts having fantasies, of him as a gentleman. When his fantasy comes, to reality, it gives a new twist to the plot of the story. At this point, Dickens gets the chance to satirize the social class system of England in the era. He uses the realization of Pip’s ambition to depict just how the nature of England’s class system is capricious. Imperatively, the life that Pip leads as a gentleman is not exactly satisfying or moral than the one he was having when he was an apprentice for the blacksmith.
The other face, of the theme of self-improvement and ambition, comes out when Pip thirst’s for improving his education level. The educational desire that Pip has is related to the social ambition that he holds as well as his desire to marry Estella. For one, there is a need for a full education, if one seeks to be a gentleman. If he keeps up as the ignorant boy he was, then he would not achieve any social advancement. Pip comprehends this fact at a tender age at the time when he learns how to read at the school of Mr. Wople’s aunt. While growing up he then learns more from Mathew Pocket.at the end of it all, Pip learns from Biddy, Magwitch and Joe that social as well as educational advancement are not as worthy as seem. For one, it is evident that a person’s real worth is based on their conscience and affection. For this, social standing and erudition should not be accorded more value than affection as well as conscience.
Dreams, hopes, plans: In the 19th century, having expectations or rather dreams, simply translated to waiting to inherit some wealth after a family member passed on. It was nothing about achievement. Such is portrayed by how Miss Havisham relatives are expecting to inherit her wealth after her death. Pip, also helps propel the theme of plans, dreams, and hopes when she dreams of becoming a gentleman, and later marry beautiful Estella. Everyone seems to be having plans in this story. Miss Havisham, on her part, plans on using Estella for her revenge mission. Herbert dreams of becoming rich in the future. However, each of the plans fails one at a time. What does that then mean.? Is it that it is not important to plan well probably not.
Love, Revenge, Friendship: The whole story revolves around friendship love and revenge. For one, Pip does not deserve the friends he has. Joe Biddy, as well as Herbert and Magwitch, are also so loyal to Pip but, ideally, he does not deserve any of that. Pip, evidently patronizes and disowns these friends, then go back for more. Why is that? Is it that his friends are sympathizing with him that they still see him as the little and scared boy. Well, either way, the story By Dickens suggests that friends can act as a good substitute when you fail to get the love of your life. On the love bit of it, Pip is brought out as that friend should always be talking about his crush. Well, Pip is in the middle of an indescribable state where he has a crush who becomes unattainable. He never gets to find out what it would feel like if Estella loved him back. Herbert and Clara on the other hand, as well as Joe and Biddy, seem to have no idea of the lofty thoughts of love.in this case, who is happier than the other? Well, better yet, is it more satisfying to love a perfect object that is rather unreachable, or is it better to settle with a real partner, who may be imperfect. Well, Great expectations, reveals the answer (Meckier,105-106). Love drives the whole story in this case. For one, it gives Pip’s life form. He draws his drive to become better from the love he feels for Estella.
In most cases, it is common to hear the term, ‘vengeance is for the Lord’. The moral norms of society are against revenge, with the argument that it kills the person revenging from within, without their knowledge. Even so, Revenge is a common phenomenon in the current society; the same is witnessed throughout the book through various characters. As such, even though revenge is not exactly a good thing, it seems to be playing a significant role in the plot of the story by Dickens. In fact, without revenge, Estella, would have no relevance in the story. Miss Havisham is obsessed with taking revenge on all the men around her because she had been stood up. She, therefore, decided to raise Estella, the way she does, because of her obsession with revenge. Estella is caught up in the middle of a Havisham’s thirst for revenge, and as such, Estella carries a lot of baggage (Knight,6). It is velar here just how revenge harms not only oneself but others too. For instance, because of the pain and that Havisham holds against men, for being a jilted bride. She has never been over the pain of being left at the altar as a young woman. From her, Estella grows to be bitter about men and learns how to manipulate and hurt them, without ever loving them. Both Havisham and Estella target Pip, now that he loves Estella, and is a man.
Estella turns out to be a tool, for Havisham’s pain. Other characters like Compeyson and Magwitch also have the thirst to take revenge such that at the end one of them dies. Revenge forms so much bitterness, and obsession that harms the person holding the need to revenge. Dickens uses these characters to demonstrate that revenge does not bring any happiness, rather it causes continuous harm and pain to oneself as well as to others. With the same tide, Dicken’s can demonstrate that even though love is powerful and can shape someone’s life, the dark elements of life such as revenge as well as pain and bitterness, can do the same such as revenge as well as pain and bitterness.
In conclusion, Dicken’s uses the various characters in the story to bring out several themes. As such, the themes in the book, have a significant relationship to the state of England at the time. Such themes include, social class, social injustice, love friendship and revenge, ambitions and improvements, dreams hope plans, as well as wealth and social injustice. Pip is the main character in the story, and all these themes revolve around, him, his life as well as his choices and the lessons he learns. Through the themes, Dickens depicts a picture of the real world. All the themes realized, are life happenings that we see in society. Moreover, Dickens uses the themes to bring out some meaningful lessons as well as to condemn some of the vices in society.
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