Victorian Era Research Paper

1048 Words5 Pages
Dickens Exploits 19th Century Criminal Profiling in Great Expectations
In the nineteenth century, the harsh consequences for committing crimes depended on various factors, including social status, appearance, behavior and gender. The law was biased towards those who were both superior in appearance and thoroughly educated. Women were seen as respectable but naïve rather than murderers. Through his distinction of characters, Dickens shows his interest of profiling in his novel Great Expectations.
Magwitch’s story of his trial and imprisonment advocates that the law is prejudiced in favor of those who are members of the educated middle or upper classes. He is faulted with a serious misdemeanor; being charged with putting stolen notes in
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Dickens illustrates him as an indolent, malicious, and physically “broad” character. Forensic evidence was collected at the crime scene and was used to determine traits of possible suspects. This data illustrated a portrait, describing the type of person the convict presumably was. Orlick’s description can create an image of a dangerous convict (Profiling in the Victorian Era). Many of the mentally or behaviorally ill criminals, mainly observed towards the end of the 19th century, were classified as the “the dangerous class (Emsley Crime and Victorians)”. Pip did not trust Orlick working for Miss Havisham (Dickens 644). Jaggers went to check on Orlick and even had him fired, which enraged Orlick (Dickens 702). Orlick appeared to be drunk when he seeks to immolate Pip (Dickens 701). Essentially, drunkenness was linked to personalities of convicts (Emsley Crime and Victorians). Orlick’s appearance and behavior is linked to many physiognomies of a criminal, which led Pip to recognize him as the one who scathed Mrs. Joe.
Dickens exercises his appeal of profiling Molly, Magwitch, and Orlick; interconnecting the characters to 19th century criminal profiling. Social class, gender, conduct and appearance affected how the criminals were criticized. Unfairly, law officials decided on crime sentences, such as in Magwitch’s case, towards those who were
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