Social Class in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations Essay

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Social Class in Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations"

During the 19th century, Britain was entering a new era. The reign of
Queen Victoria had brought about many exciting propositions, with industry leading the way at the forefront. Due to the Industrial
Revolution and the fact that Britain was being ruled by a woman, the action of 'Great Expectations' was occurring against the backdrop of major social and cultural changes. Although Britain, as a whole, was becoming exceedingly richer, the Industrial Revolution that was taking place also spawned great poverty. The working conditions in the factories were deplorable. Child labour was prevalent and the slums of large cities, such as London, bred transgression, crime and
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This can be perceived by some as being ironic, as although the wife of Joe has taken both of his names in the classical patriarchal manner, the Gargery household is anything but patriarchal. In fact, her husband is treated as little more than a child and Pip and he are the submissive ones. She was not a good looking woman, my sister; and I had a general impression that she must have made Joe Gargery marry her by hand." Mrs. Joe Gargery was a stern and overbearing figure to both Joe and Pip. She was a very abusive and short-tempered character, and appeared to be and almost uncaring and tyrannical sister and mother figure to Pip. Mrs. Gargery frequently menaces her husband and Pip with her cane, which she calls
"Tickler" said Pip regarding his sister. She also forces them to drink a foul tasting concoction called tar-water. Right from the beginning of the novel, Mrs. Gargery makes her opinions of Joe and Pip perfectly clear. "You'll drive me to the churchyard betwixt you, one of these days, and oh, a precious pair you'd be without me." Her violent and aggressive behaviour towards both Joe and Pip is probably due to her build of frustration about her life. Her fondest wish is to be something more than a village blacksmith, as she aspires to be in a better social class. She poses questions which ponder on what she would be if she wasn't a blacksmith's wife. "Perhaps if I weren't a
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