Social criticism in The Great Gatsby and Great Expectations

2248 Words May 5th, 2004 9 Pages
Authors often use their works to convey criticisms of society. Such works of literature do not directly criticize specific real people or events. They do however present a sense of the writer's concern with issues of social injustice and misguided values. Two strong examples of social criticism through literature are Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In both novels the writers project their social criticisms to the reader through the use of characterization and setting. Great Expectations was written and set in mid-Victorian England, having been first published as a serial in "All The Year Round" a weekly English periodical. Dickens used this form of publication to incrementally dose his …show more content…
Dickens criticizes this injustice in Great Expectations buy mocking a society that values wealth and appearance. In the novel typically the poorest characters are the most honest and moral and the wealthiest are the most immoral and corrupt. Pips moral stalwart is Joe, his much older brother in law. Joe is a poor blacksmith who is ridiculed for his humble means by his wife and also by a wealthy Pip for his humility and ignorance of wealth and high society.

Despite this Joe is the only character that is universally kind and compassionate, the stories only true gentleman, but is never socially recognized as such because of his low social stature. On the other hand Miss Havisham is a character that shows this relationship between wealth and immorality. She is the most visibly wealthy person in the novel; she is also the cruelest. All of her actions are motivated by a desire to humiliate Pip and make him feel in human due to his modest upbringing. John Wemmick is a very visible example of the juxtaposition of corrupt wealth and honest humility. He is a law clerk to the powerful London lawyer Mr. Jaggers. While at work with Jaggers he conforms to the environment by being an emotionally devoid subordinate who will follow nearly any directive regardless of morality. When he is outside of work he shows a
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