Critical Essays On Charles Dickens Great Expectations

But he also knew the kind of suffering and exploitation that goes with class difference and never underestimated or flinched away from the cruelty and degradation that go with a class-divided society.

In his charitable work and reforming journalism, he did everything he could to change things for the better, by helping the poor and trying to diminish class antagonisms.

22) or when Trabb’s boy pursues him down the street ‘wriggling his elbows and body, and drawling to his Attendants, “Don't know yah, don't know yah, 'pon my soul don't know yah! 33) The latter is a carnival of comic revenge by a poor provincial shop boy at his comparatively rich oppressor, someone who shortly before was as poor as he.

It is funny for us but profoundly humiliating for Pip, who over and again in the novel shows us the heavy price (both psychological and moral) that he pays for escaping from the poverty and suffering of the forge.

This of course gives great scope for deceit, falsity and self-deception – and for comic misunderstandings.

Like many Victorians, Dickens was fascinated by the idea that you could make yourself anew in this way., not linked in any essential way to the job that you do or the wealth that you have.This is particularly so in the urban encounters that he portrays.But he also wanted to recognise the creativity that is shown in the inventive ways that people live out or transform their class identity.This is rarely a simple or untroubled thing, and performances of class often go wrong.Britain in the 19th century was an extraordinarily dynamic place, one that was pioneering new forms of social and urban organisation.People often think of Victorian society as a stratified one with rigidly fixed class identities, but Dickens’s novels tell a very different story.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.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.


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