Great Ex Theme Essay

677 words - 3 pages

Charles Dickens is known for his commentary on the world he lived in, and his novel Great Expectations is no exception. When the novel was written in 1850, England’s class system was freshly changed by the industrial revolution. Now, instead of feudal lords and aristocrats possessing most of the wealth and power, ordinary people could obtain wealth and status through their new industrial jobs. The concept of a “gentleman” was no longer reserved for those who were born into it, and everyone thirsted to become one. Through the contrast, the actions, and priorities of his characters, Dickens suggests that solid friendships create more emotional wealth than social status can provide.

Stage One, Dickens challenges the value of social status by contrasting the quality of life for the common and the uncommon. Although Ms. Havisham has plenty of money and is of high social status, Pip observes her to be “withered like the [bridal dress], and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes” (50). Ms. Havisham lives her life isolated, frozen inside her wedding day, when her ex-fiance left her. She is miserable, despite her money and status. Pip admits later on that he is ashamed that Joe is “ignorant and common” and that he works in the forge (100) . However, Joe is very content with his life; he is good at his job, and has loyal friendships with Pip and later on Biddy. The contrast between happy, poor Joe and miserable, rich Ms. Havisham proves that a high social status does not guarantee happiness.

In Stage Two, Dickens proves the insignificance of social and economic status through the character’s actions and their results. Pip joins a group called Finches of the Grove, “the object of which [he] has never divined, if it were not that the members should dine expensively once a fortnight, to quarrel among themselves as much as possible after dinner” (251-252). There is no point to the group, other then to act as their society thinks a...

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