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Studying The Novel The Great Expectations English Literature Essay

The novel, Great Expectations, trades with the constructs of a ‘true gentleman ‘ ; where the Victorian thought, which is based upon birth, wealth, societal position and dress, contrasts to Dickens ‘ portraiture of a gentleman who is a individual of kindness, humbleness and generousness. Dickens upbringing and early life allows him to understand the place of the hapless due to their low upbringing, which keeps them in the lower societal category. His didactic message, what it is to be a true gentleman, is reinforced by the bildungsroman manner of the novel.

In Victorian times, one who came from a wealthy and respectable household was considered to be a gentleman. This is clear in legion characters in the novel, who are instantly perceived to be gentlemen as they boast a big sum of money and frock in the finest apparels. One illustration, Compeyson, uses this to acquire a decreased sentence in tribunal, as Magwitch says ‘one, the younger, good brought up, who will be spoke to as such ‘ . This highlights the importance of societal category in the Victorian epoch and it is clear to see here that the justness system is really much more favorable to the higher societal ranks, make up one’s minding how they would acquire treated and addressed, and that the penalty is non dependent on the offense, instead the person at test ‘s background and upbringing. Dickens has shown that the Victorian construct of a gentleman is all about wealth and societal ranking, non the features we see in a gentleman today.

In add-on to this, many of the characters in the novel show they besides have the misconception that money makes a gentleman. Magwitch ‘s remark on Pip ‘s return that he [ Pip ] has ‘contracted expensive wonts ‘ proves this and gives the feeling that passing money in such munificent ways was normal and acceptable in those times, and something that Pip can non command. The tone Magwitch uses is besides verging on proud, in the sense that he is proud that Pip is able to afford to populate such a comfy life style, without holding to worry about fiscal issues. However, Pip may non be able to avoid this as he has n’t had the instruction of restraint that comes from holding some money ; merely that of the hapless whereby if you have small money, you should pass it. Dickens plays on his deficiency of cognition to portray the Victorian gentleman as being rich ; nevertheless, this contrasts to his ain gentleman of generousness and humbleness.

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Appearance was of utmost significance and greatly affects the perceptual experience of a gentleman in Victorian times. Magwitch appears as a felon at first, described as, ‘A fearful adult male, all in coarse Grey, with a great Fe on his leg…who limped and shivered, and glared and growled. ‘ The linguistic communication Dickens has used such as ‘coarse ‘ is rough and amplifies the panic instigates by the beastly imagination of ‘glared ‘ and growled ‘ . He is described with really small narrative position as the verbs are omitted from the first to sentences which underscores the disgust the Victorians would hold felt for him seeing as his visual aspect is non worthy of a gentleman in their society. This is accentuated by the fact he appears to be portion of the barbarian sea and fen, jumping up from its deep deepnesss. However, Dickens besides wrote that Magwitch ‘limped and shivered ‘ possibly connoting he merely appears this manner as a consequence of the life and hardship he has had to bear. Estella besides mocks Pip for holding ‘thick boots ‘ and ‘coarse custodies ‘ . Again the usage of rough words such as ‘coarse ‘ and ‘thick ‘ , antecedently used to raise panic, here connote a sense of disgust that the Victorians felt whilst looking down on Pip. After acquiring his heritage, Pip so tries to decide his sick visual aspect to look as more of a gentleman. This one visit to Satis House wholly changes the class of Pip ‘s life and is where he latches on to the Victorian construct on a gentleman, reinforced by Magwitch who thinks Pip is a gentleman after seeing his jewelry and garb.

Throughout this novel, Dickens challenges what realistically constitutes a gentleman. He believes that it is non the luxuries of a baronial birth and money that affair but instead how a individual treats his fellow adult male and whether or non they show humbleness. Compeyson is a ‘gentleman ‘ but is in fact immoral and a felon. He plays on his gentlemanlike visual aspect in tribunal and was ‘recommended clemency on history of good character and bad company ‘ whilst Magwitch had to function a long sentence despite non being the encephalons behind the offense. Even in the clip of Dickens, there was a justness for the rich and a justness for the hapless ; society has ranks and degrees, merely as a prison. This statement proposes favourability towards the higher societal ranks as Magwitch, the ‘bad company ‘ , is imprisoned whilst Compeyson is able to walk free as the tribunals believed that the lone ground he committed the offense was due to the influence Magwitch had on him. Dickens appears to do the characters considered to be Victorian gentleman more fine-looking in the novel, whereas he makes those who he feels are ‘true gentleman ‘ less attractive, such as Magwitch who is in fact Pip ‘s generous helper. He contests that to be a gentleman, you need to ‘look ‘ like one, it is instead your actions and intervention of others which makes you a gentleman.

Due to his wealth, Bentley Drummle is considered a gentleman ; nevertheless, Dickens describes him as ‘sluggish ‘ and he is said to ‘always creep in-shore like some sort of amphibian animal. ‘ The usage of ‘sluggish ‘ implies that he is habitually idle, rough and unattractive ; surprising, sing he is a ‘gentleman ‘ . He is besides described as an ‘amphibious animal ‘ , which gives the feeling he is cold blooded, instead vile and atrocious, non the features expected of a ‘true gentleman ‘ . Dickens ‘ overall contempt for Drummle and Compeyson is made clear through their hostile deceases which are both some kind of poetic justness for all the error they have committed in their life-times. Compeyson drowns to his decease whilst seeking to acquire Magwitch convicted further for his ain offenses ; and Drummle dies ‘consequent on his maltreatment of a Equus caballus ‘ . This is really dry as he displays beastly and opprobrious behavior throughout the novel, and this is, finally, partially to fault for his decease.

Joe is a gentleman, the complete antonym of Drummle. He carried on the household trade after being born into a simple blacksmith household and merely has adequate money to acquire by. Pip describes him as a ‘good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish, beloved fellow-a kind of Hercules in strength ‘ . The usage of hapless false belief here reinforces the positive image Dickens has created about Joe comparing him to the strongest God in Greek mythology. Through this, he has gained his humbleness and a quality of a gentleman in Dickens ‘ eyes. It is through Joe that Dickens eventually begins to demo what he thinks makes a gentleman. Pip besides eventually says he is ‘looking up to Joe ‘ , connoting he can be considered a gentleman as he carried the qualities of a true gentleman – person to look up to and who has humbleness.

The destinies of these two characters, Joe and Magwitch, are testament to Dickens ‘ belief that to be a true gentleman it is indispensable to handle others right. Joe lives merrily for the remainder of his life after get marrieding Biddy as Pip says, ‘Dear Biddy, you have the best hubby in the universe ‘ . Pip has obviously matured, accepting more duty for his wickednesss, debt and life. He is economical and writes to Joe and Biddy, non demoing his disturbance that Joe beat him to get marrieding Biddy, instead alleviation that he did non inquire her the same. However, Magwitch dies at the terminal of the novel, although it is a much more peaceable decease than Compeyson. It is when Magwitch is on his deathbed, Pip realises that ‘when he took [ his ] topographic point by Magwitch ‘s side, [ he ] felt it was [ his ] topographic point henceforth while he lived ‘ . Dickens makes Magwitch ‘s decease peaceful and comfy and the remainder of Joe ‘s life happy to retroflex his sentiment of a true gentleman, demoing how they will be treated and ‘rewarded ‘ whilst Compeyson and Drummle endure ghastly goings due to their effete nature.

Dickens ‘ didactic message is delivered through Pip, through whom the reader learns how to go gentlemanly. As Pip is the first individual storyteller, the reader sees the experiences through his eyes, leting him to explicate why he made his determinations and highlight his errors, although they may non ever hold with what he says and does. As shortly as Pip being seeking to map himself to the Victorian gentleman, Dickens demonstrates the rapid gait of his moral diminution. To get down with, Herbert is Pip ‘s cupboard friend ; he tries to present him to the etiquette and manners expected of a gentleman in London and Pip values his sentiment extremely. However, as he plunges into his moral diminution, Pip starts ‘disregarding Herbert ‘s attempts to look into [ him ] ‘ . This is proof that, here, he can non be considered a true gentleman, harmonizing to Dickens and our modern twenty-four hours society, as he is moving as if he is superior to others, non handling them the manner they treated him. This is non a quality of the modern gentleman, but fits that of his society which Dickens competitions.

Pip acted as gentleman in a manner that he hoped would affect Estella ; nevertheless, this leads him to give precedence to money and visual aspect, and to be ashamed of his simple, ‘ungentlemanly ‘ background and upbringing. Upon hearing Joe is to see him he says, ‘If I could maintain him off by paying money, I surely would hold paid money. ‘ In his pursuit to acquire money to go almighty, Pip learns that he can ne’er wipe out the ‘shame ‘ of his yesteryear, and this is accentuates by the fact he wants to distance himself from Joe. It besides shows how much he values money, and naively believes that with it he is able to ever acquire his manner. This underscores the alteration in Pip who one time ‘looked up to Joe ‘ as a immature male child, but is now a barbarous person whose lone concern is to go worthy plenty to win over Estella, who says to him, ‘Since your alteration of luck and chances, you have changed you comrades ‘ to which Pip replied ‘Naturally ‘ . Here we can see he is to the full seeking to make full the Victorian ideal of a gentleman, as if the act of puting himself apart from Joe and Biddy, who he considers to be below him, is ‘natural ‘ . Although he may be a Victorian gentleman, he is non the gentleman who Dickens portrays, and through this Dickens suggests that to go a Victorian gentleman it is necessary to force off those who care about you most ; the 1s who will be at that place for you no count your position.

Through the bildungsroman manner of the novel and the retrospective storyteller, Pip, Dickens displays his constructs of how a true gentleman should move. When he is ill and taken in by Joe and Biddy near the terminal of the novel, Pip realises his errors and says to them, ‘receive my low thanks for all you have done for me, and all I have so sick repaid. ‘ Pip has now bit by bit understood that a chapter of his life has for good closed and he will no longer have the intervention of an flush gentleman, nor can he see the manor and depend on Jo and Biddy at his leisure like he one time did. This is a important minute for Pip ; clip and luck have changed his topographic point ; he starts out for the forge with the sentiment he is already a changed adult male, however merely when he reacts to the changed around him does he truly show his more full-blown and improved nature. His selfless felicity for Joe and Biddy is the greatest cogent evidence of his growing. Sing them as a married twosome, he realises he needs to travel on independently and he boldly declares he will gain money to pay Joe back, generous both spiritually and materialistically. Pip ‘s character has unusually transformed from the self-involved kid who sought self-reformation to the cost of other and it is here the Dickens reveals his perceptual experiences of a gentleman through Pip ‘s concluding humbleness: that it is non your societal rank, wealth or background that makes you a gentleman, but instead your humbleness, kindness, generousness and intervention of others. His name, Pip, is declarative of his character, a little seed or ‘pip ‘ turning mentally and physically into the adult male he finally became towards the terminal of the novel ; little and low – a true gentleman and a great adult male in the eyes of Dickens.

In decision, Charles Dickens, a societal critic of low beginnings himself, has conveyed his construct of a true gentleman, which is such a good construct that it is normally used in our society today. He shows that you can merely be a true gentleman at bosom and if you are non it will be revealed. Matthew Pocket ‘s metaphor that ‘No varnish can conceal the grain of the wood ; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will show itself ‘ really successfully delivers and summarises Dickens ‘ message, that no affair how much you try to, your true individuality will ever be revealed. It besides efficaciously reinforces Dickens ‘ intervention of the Victorian prepossession of a gentleman as misconstrued and erroneously engrossed with societal position, wealth, birth, and dress.


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