Great Expectations Analysis

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Great Expectations was written by Charles Dickens during the Victorian period and follows the life of Pip, our protagonist, as he works his way up the social hierarchy of the Victorian society. It was first published as series from 1860 to 1861. It is written as a bildungsroman: a genre of writing which pursues the life of a character from their childhood to their adult life. This novel has been hugely influenced by the author’s own life; who also worked his way up the social ladder. The story is written in a retrospective narrator: older Pip is looking back to his childhood and telling the story.

Charles Dickens uses characters to represent different classes. The lower working class is shown by Joe. Joe’s character is based on Dickens’
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This shows how the working classes’ attitudes changed towards the higher classes. They showed respect to them while the upper classes treated them as nothing more than their inferiors. This is quite ironic because the upper classes are taught that manners are the fundamental step to be a lady or a gentleman however they do not feel the need to show these manners to lower classes.
Mr. Pumblechook is one of the characters who is exaggerated to show class. He is a middleclass corn merchant and Joe’s uncle. He is a very rude and lazy man who expects the working class to do all the work and his only form of work is to ‘look across the street at the saddler.’ He is also very sycophantic - in the beginning he is picking on the young Pip comparing him to the pork they were eating for dinner; later, when he learns about Pip’s benefactor he is very polite to Pip. This shows how he changes his character to gain what he wants. He is portrayed as a covetous person and even though he is better off than most other people he is united with them in his desire to go up the step in the social ladder. In the Victorian society, the amount of education received was determined by their social class. Pip, being from a working class background had received no or very little education. Pip wanted to get educated in order to impress Estella. Also, Joe was illiterate because of his working class background and Pip, who didn’t want to end up a blacksmith, realised he