Essay on Crime and Imprisonment in Great Expectations

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Crime and Imprisonment in Great Expectations There is a clear relationship between the characters in Great Expectations and crime. Dickens uses this connection to show that a criminal can be reformed. He also shows the characters to be prisoners of their own doing. Pip is born into his prison. He continuously associates himself with criminals and criminal behavior. Pip likens himself to a criminal from the start: "I think my sister must have had some general idea that I was a young offender whom as Accoucheur Policeman had taken up . . . and delivered over to her to be dealt with according to the outraged majesty of the law" (41; ch. 4). He equates his home to a cage or prison and Mrs. Joe becomes not a sister but…show more content…
After running into the convict in The Three Jolly Bargemen, he realizes what a "guilty coarse and common thing it was, to be on secret terms of conspiracy with convicts" (89; ch. 10). His connection with criminals is so strong that even after he receives the money for his great expectations he has "a reason that was an old reason now, for constitutionally faltering whenever [he] heard the word convict" (217; ch. 28). The reason for Pip's falter is Magwitch. Magwitch is a true criminal who has committed many felonies. He is seen as "a victim, the victim of neglect, poverty and repression, driven by hunger to crime, forsaken from childhood, and ever since relentlessly persecuted and prosecuted" (Sadrin 89). Pip is unable to see this and sees Magwitch as a felon no matter what: The more I dressed him and the better I dressed him, the more he looked like the slouching fugitive on the marshes. . . . I believe too that he dragged one of his legs as if there were still a weight of iron on it, and that from head to foot there was Convict in the very grain of the man. . . .The influences of his solitary hut-life were upon him besides, and gave him a savage air that no dress could tame. . . . In all his ways . . . and a thousand other small nameless instances arising every minute in the day, there was Prisoner, Felon, Bondsman, plain as plain could be. (312; ch. 40) Dickens uses this characterization to
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