Great Expectations: Analyzed Through A Marxist Criticism

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Marxism consists of the political and economic theories of Karl Marx, in which class struggle is a central element in the analysis of social change in Western societies. Marxism applies to the novel Great Expectations in many ways. Dickens uses Pip’s complex and altering relationships with Estella, Joe, and Magwitch to show the subjugation of the working-class from the privileged.
Estella is raised in a prosperous household and is judgmental of Pip because he is from the working class. She insults his appearance when she says, "But he is a common laboring boy. And look at his boots! (Dickens 45)" because he is not of the upper class. She also criticizes the way he speaks when he calls one of the playing cards Jacks instead of Knaves
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Pip’s relationship with Joe changes greatly through the novel. Pip loves Joe for the duration of the story, but his feelings for Joe change throughout Dickens’ interpretation of the social classes. Joe acts as a father figure for Pip at the beginning of Great Expectations, but transforms into a friend and equal when Pip discovers why Joe cannot read. When Pip becomes wealthy, his relationship with Joe becomes strained and awkward. This is Dickens’ way of exemplifying the differences between the social classes. Pip looks down on Joe and is embarrassed by his manners and inability to read. One of the ironies in the novel is that Pip's financial augmentation and ascension in society, is complemented by moral deterioration. Dickens uses this to express his outlook on the upper-classes. "I thought of Estella and how common she would consider Joe, a mere blacksmith (Dickens 55).” This shows how Pip is ashamed of his family and being “common,” while Joe remains a selfless and honest man throughout the entire story. Pip’s divergence with Joe in this sense is a mirror for Dickens’ beliefs about the differences between the lower and upper-classes. Dickens contrasts the traditional view of a gentleman as a man of moral integrity with his portrayal of a gentleman as a man of wealth, status, and leisure. When Pip leaves for London he recalls, “I told Joe I wished to walk away all alone (Dickens 123).” Pip didn’t want anybody to see that he had come from
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