Great Expectations offers a diversity of interpretations so various responders will be engaged by the text. The main character, Pip, is used to establish the journey of a young boy’s life as he learns the true meaning of life and what values are most important. Dickens uses a range of characters to show Pip learning this lesson and to provide insights into various aspects of the Victorian era culture. Characters such as Joe and Magwitch provide an insight into the education and the crime and justice systems of Victorian England, along the importance of social class and wealth. Whilst, Estella and Miss Havisham provide an insight into the position of women and the inequality of power ...view middle of the document...
Drummle inherited his wealth and received extensive education. Being part of the upper-class, Drummle gains a sense of superiority which makes him feel justified in acting cruelly and harshly toward everyone around him. Drummle provides Pip with proof that social advancement has no inherent connection to moral worth.
Pip’s friend and brother-in-law, Joe, on the other hand, is a good man who works hard for the little he earns. Joe has little and basic, if any, education, as he could not afford to be educated. Although he is uneducated and unrefined, he consistently acts for the benefit of those he loves and suffers in silence when Pip treats him coldly.
This contrast in characters portrays how those of a higher class receive extensive education compared to those in the lower class, who have been given very limited educational opportunities. Dickens clearly highlights the unjust way in which education was provided during that era and thus conveys a Marxist reading.
Dickens also explores the crime and justice system to satirize the class system of this era. Through the characters Magwitch and Compeyson, Dickens presents society’s bias and prejudice attitudes towards those in different classes. Even though both are convicts and thus regarded as the lowest of the social ranking, their sentencing of their crimes is influenced by their social background. This provides Dickens with the opportunity to gently satirize the class system of this era and to provide a Marxist view on the inequality of wealth and power.
Compeyson, formerly being a gentleman, is seen to be superior to Magwitch because of his wealth, knowledge and social status, thus he is treated with respect and given special provisions, whereas Magwitch, being from a lower-class, is immediately perceived as guilty.
This unfair treatment is particularly evident through the following statement made be the prosecuting lawyer.
‘My Lord and gentlemen, here you has afore you, side by side, two persons as your eyes can separate wide; one, the younger, well brought up, who will be spoke to as such; one, the elder, ill brought up, who will be spoke to as such’.
Through the crime and justice system Dickens explores the unfair treatment and conditions endured by those in the lower classes because of their position...