Criminal Activity and Charles Dickens

1381 Words Jul 8th, 2018 6 Pages
Criminal Activity and Charles Dickens

Great Expectations, like the majority of Charles Dickens' fiction, contains several autobiographical connotations that demonstrate the author's keen observational talents. Pip, the novel's protagonist, reflects Dickens' painful childhood memories of poverty and an imprisoned father. According to Robert Coles, "there was in this greatest of storytellers an unyielding attachment of sorts to his early social and moral experiences" (566). Complementing Dickens' childhood memories of crime and poverty was his legal training, reflected in the characterizations of lawyers and the abundance of criminal activity that hovers around the world of Great Expectations.

Charles Dickens'
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Jaggers "at it" (195; ch. 24). Pip describes his guardian as a man who:

. . . was striking (the witness), and the bench, and everybody present, with awe. If anybody, of whatsoever degree, said a word that he didn't approve of, he instantly required to have it 'taken down.' If anybody wouldn't make an admission, he said. 'I'll have it out of you!' and if anybody made an admission, he said, 'Now I have got you!' The magistrates shivered under a single bite of his finger. Thieves and thief-takers hung in dread rapture on his words, and shrank when a hair of his eyebrows turned in their direction. . . . [H]e was making the legs of the old gentleman who presided, quite convulsive under the table, by his denunciations of his conduct as the representative of British law and justice in that chair that day. (195-96; ch. 24)

Holdsworth mentions that passages such as these "are a very valuable addition to our authorities, since they give us information we can get nowhere else and were painted by a man with extraordinary powers of observation, who had first hand knowledge" (Collins 175).

Taking his "extraordinary powers of observation" into consideration, it is no surprise that Dickens spent part of his early career as a journalist. Following his legal apprenticeship, Dickens became a court reporter for the Court of

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