Great Expectations is a book written by Charles Dickens. The novel depicts the life of an orphan known as Pip. It provides a story of his personal growth and development as an orphan. When Pip was an orphan of about six months, he went to the graves of his parents and the younger brothers. On her way, Pip encountered an escaped convict who scared him into stealing food for him (Dickens 112). The lawyer approaches Pip and tells him that he should leave to London immediately when he receives the large sum of money from his benefactor. The Great Expectations explores different major themes including the social classes during the Georgian era (Tredell 189). Other themes include ambition, self empowerment, as well as the crime. Crime is depicted throughout the novel and crime as a theme comes into greater effect when Pip discovers that his great benefactor is a convict (Dickens 112). The novel emphasizes more on the theme of social class. Throughout the novel, Pip associates with different types of classes of people starting from the criminal to a great rich woman and his great ambition to achieve wealth is demonstrated throughout the novel.
Charles Dickens’s Great expectations reveal the perfect examples of the theme of social class. The author provides varied examples of social classes of poor and rich people. Pip is one of the characters who come from a lower class and as an orphan; he struggles hard though associating with other people in order to meet his expectations. In particular, Pip climbs higher in the social ladder from a common man to a gentlemen and a wealth man (Dickens 212). After he rose from a poor to a rich man, he changes his attitudes from a caring child to an apathetic gentleman (Goodheart 45). Pip comes from a poor family and when his parents died, he struggles hard in order to meet his great expectations. Pip loved Joe, his brother in law as well as his friend, Biddy who was a convict. However, since he visited the Satis mansion, Pip decided to change in order to become a prosperous gentleman.
Additionally, Pip desires to move from a poor class to a wealth class, but his prayers are eventually answered when the lawyer, Jaggers tells him to move to London. This is whereby Pip was promised to be given a huge amount of money in order to continue his education and thus, become a gentleman (Dickns 220). Moreover, Joe, who is a blacksmith, comes from a poor class of family and Joe woks diligently, so that he can earn a living. Unlike Miss Havisham, who received a wealth from inheritance, she does not struggle but enjoys her richness. Even though Joe works hard, he still remains in the lower class. Pip aspires to improve his social status from a poor man to a rich man (Lareau and Dalton 81). Thus, he transforms himself to an arrogant and proud man towards his friend Biddy and Joe. For example, Pip says that ‘If I could have kept Joe away by money’ (Dickens, 217). Even when Joe went to visit Pip in London, he realizes his embarrassment and tell Pip that there social class is natural.
Another way through which the theme of social class is revealed in Dickens’s novel is through Pip’s uneasiness about his social class. Pip is a young and ambitious man, and despite his lass of family and an orphan, he becomes determined, thus manages to achieve his great expectations (Dickens and David 71). Moreover, Pip only interacts with people from the middle and high social class like Miss Havisham. This provided him an opportunity to learn on the socio economic life of Georgian and Victorian as the way different social classes are being affected in this era. Dickens’s novel is rooted on social class realities of time of the author. However, the universal question of the social class it raises helps one to clearly understand the social class differences in the modern society (Goodheart 45).
When Pip was a young boy, he used to admire Joe’s class, but he alter discovers that Joe’s class status makes no difference. It is later when he learns that class matters a lot and many people in the world care about class so much. Estella’s insults to Pip that he is a common man makes him think too much about his class (Dickens and David 28). Additionally, the words of Joe that Pip cannot rise out of commonness by being corrupt indicate that Joe views the class of a person as a product of their morals and behaviors, but not how much money they posses. Biddy tells his friend Pip that Estella will not love him, if Pip does not impress Estella as a gentleman. This is because of Estella’s notion that love only happens only when one is determined to be a comparable class. However, this idea does not make Pip move away from his belief that the only finer things in life are achieved when one becomes a gentleman (Hooks 201).
Moreover, when Pip is told the good news of inheritance, he becomes more superior to Joe. Pip beliefs that he has made an incredible rise in class status because of getting richer and the money he was to receive would make him richer (Dickens 133). Moreover, everything changes when Pip learns the class status of his benefactor and his character that he was a convict. He realizes that his benefactor was not a gentlewoman, but just a prison stock. Thus, Pip continues along to work hard in order to meet his great expectations (Dickens 136). His expectations are met when he was lifted out of his class through the money he was given. Pip’s expectations are eventually replaced with a more humble ethic, as well as the honest work.
Even though Jagger is associated with people from high class status, such as Miss Havisham, his customers are mostly from the lower classes. This is an indication that the benefactor of Pip, who was the client of Jaggers, was not a gentleman or a gentlewoman. Thus, he might have been from the lower social class because Jaggers’ clients were all from the lower social class.
After Pip returns from the funeral of Joe’s wife, he tells Biddy that he will frequently travel to the marshes in order to keep up with Joe. Biddy doubts Joe thinking that he has distanced himself from Joe because of their class differences. Moreover, when Joe visits Pip at Barnards’Inn, Joe realizes that the two of them are distancing apart. Joe has a tolerant attitude about their class differences which is expressed in the quote ‘blacksmiths whitesmiths and coppersmiths (Dickns 260).
The theme of the social class is revealed when Magwitch, the victim of a strong class structure, dies. After the death of Magwitch, Pip believes that he can return to the marshes and resume life in the village, in case he would not leave to London. However, the fact is that Pip is a changed man in terms of the social class; that is why he cannot go back to the village and cope up with the kind of life in the old village. This would possibly be not viable, because Pip wants to live life in the city and like the people of high social class (Charles and Neal 88). Moreover, the death of Magwitch was because of his sickness, since he could not be able to get better medication. This is because of his poor social class. However, then Compeyson, who is a crueler man got sick, received the better treatment. This is because unlike Magwitch, Compeyson was born in a better social class, thus he was able to afford decal expenses that enabled to recover, unlike his counterpart who died due to the lack of money for a better treatment (Dickens and David 128).
The hometown of Pip is socially stratified. Pip lives in the village because of his poor social class, while Miss Havisham lives in the uptown because of her high social class. While Pip stays in the village before he moves to London, he learns on how to interact with other people from different social classes (Galbraith 123). Unlike his bother in-law, Pip becomes focused on what he lacks rather than the things he has. His introduction to the society and the kind of class many people desire makes him aware of the things he lacks. He wants to be like other high social class of people like Miss Havisham, but he does not have the key of unlocking his dreams to a successful life (Emery 54). However, his luck comes when the lawyer tells her to move to London, whereby she was to be given the large sum of money, which will make her rich.
Moreover, when Pip is alone, he takes most of his time examining the society, as well as the characteristics he would like to posses. However, with the new picture of Miss Havisham in his mind, Pip demands to take the character of Miss Havisham. This is because Havisham is wealthier, thus Pip’s great expectation in the society is to become rich too (Dickens 99). Thus, he becomes self-aware through his introduction to the society, because he started associating with the people from high class who made him learn more about the classes in the society. Furthermore, Pip learns that the society appreciates and respects high class of people, thus he struggles hard in order to become a gentleman (Charles and Martin 81).
The social class takes the form of great expectations in the novel of Dickens. In the whole novel, social class is a theme that is mostly emphasized in the novel. Although there are other themes such as crime, ambition and self improvement, social class is revealed though many characters; some of them demand great expectations like Pip (Dickens 121). Pip’s social class is one of his greatest expectations in his life. Born in a peasant family, he struggles hard in order to kick out poverty, thus become wealthier like other characters like Miss Havisham. Thus, Pip is seen admiring the social class of other people like Havisham. Eventually, he starts associating with people from higher class and thus ignores his friend Bobby and his brother in-law. This is clearly portrayed, especially when Joe went to visit him, he moved to London and achieved his greater expectation he tells Joe that they were now people of different social classes (Dickens 202).
According to (Hooks 64), social improvement is irrelevant to one’s real worth and the consciences as well as the affection are what need to be valued above education and social standing. This is actually what Pip expected to achieve, because he became ambitious and, above all, achieved what he wanted. Moreover, even in the modern society, many people prefer to live up to the high social class of life like the way Pip demanded. Pip’s desires or great expectations are connected with his social ambition of longing to live in a high social class. Thus, as a young and an ignorant boy, he has no hope for achieving higher social class advancement. However, after associating with other people from high social class, he learns that social advancement is the real worth in the society (Dickens and David 38).
Throughout Dickens’s novel of great expectations, the author explores different class systems of Georgian and Victorian England era. This class of people ranges from the wretched criminals, like Magwitch, to peasants like Pip, Joe and Biddy. Additionally, it covers the middle class of people, like Pumblechook, to rich people like Miss Havisham (Dickens 156). Actually, the theme of social class is the major theme to the plot of the novel, as well as the ultimate moral theme of the novel. This is because many characters are portrayed differently, regarding to their social class status in the novel. Pip realizes that wealth and class are less important than affection. This is portrayed especially when he falls in love with Estella when he lost his husband (Dickens 124). Although, Joe tries to explain him that Estella would not appreciate his affection, if he is not a gentleman, but Pip ignores it by saying that love is different from wealth and class. Eventually, Pip achieves this realization, when he eventually understood that regardless of the esteem that Estella holds, one’s social status is not connected in any way to the real character (Tredell 112).
Additionally, the most vital thing about the novel is the treatment of the social class. The kind of class system it portrays is based on the post industrial revolution during the Victorian England era (Emery 65). The author generally ignores the notability, as well as the heritable upper classes in the favor of characters during the Victorian era. This family’ fortunes were made through the brewery industries that were connected especially to Miss Havisham’s manor house. This industry is what made Havisham inherit more wealth, thus became wealthier. Through connecting the theme of the social class and the work, the author deviously reinforces the theme of ambition, as well as the self-improvement (Dickens 234).
Social class plays a bigger role in the modern society. Thus, the theme of the social class in the novel of Dickens is comparable to the modern society. This is because the wealthy people from high social class tend to get more recognition for having more money and the lower class tends to get bad reputation because of being poor (Hooks 101). This actually what the author depicts throughout the novel. Thus, some characters, such as Pip, have great expectations of becoming wealthier, because they want to maintain a good reputation. Moreover, the social status reveals the way one is being treated in the society or the way an individual represents him or herself in the community. This is the reason why Pip struggles hard in order to become a gentleman (Lareau 71). For instance, when she wanted to marry Estella, his brother in-law tries to tell him that Estella would not appreciate his affection, because he is not a gentleman. This is one way of revealing how the society values people from the high social class in the modern times (Dickens 201).
In addition, the author of great expectations tries to explain the wealth, as well as popularity of Victorian era as the key factor of life. Dickens allows the reader to explore the theme of the social class in order to understand the way high class people in the society are respected. The author enables the reader to understand the way the higher class of people in the society is well respected, thus many people are ambitious of becoming wealthier like Pip, in order to maintain good reputation in the community. Moreover, Dickens wants to realize the way a person is judged in the society, even he is poor or rich and the way judgment can ruin one’s happiness from the inside (Emery 49). Moreover, he analyzes the way the lower classes of people are represented as the kind hearted people who can take all what they have and make something better out of it. For instance, Joe is described as a man of wisdom, because he advises Pip and he is a person with skills in craft work (Dickens 210). Joe works as a blacksmith and makes the best living from the small income that he earnes.
In addition to the above, Joe in his social status is represented as unpopular person, but someone who could work hard using his skills to attain a living. Joe ever let Pip down, even though Pip decided to cut of his friendship. This is after he achieved his great expectations especially and received the large amount of money. Therefore, he became wealthier and decided to call off his relationships by saying that now they are people of different social classes (Dickens 110). This is an indication of the way social class divides people in the society. For instance, in the modern society, the rich are associated with the rich and the poor with the poor, because of the social classes. However, Joe, being a good man, did not distance himself from Pip, thus he tried to maintain their relationships.(Galbraith 102)
In conclusion, the social class is one of the central themes portrayed in the novel of Dickens’s ‘Great expectations’. The author reveals the ways the social class divides people in the society. The author explores different class systems of Georgian and Victorian England era. Pip desires to move from a poor class to a wealth class, but his prayers are eventually answered when the lawyer, Jaggers tells him to move to London where he was to obtain a large sum of money. Many characters in the novel such as Joe, Estella, Pip and his friend are represented differently, depending on their social class which divides them.