Great Expectations: Dickens writing is purely political

Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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Charles Dickens was born on the 7th of February 1812, just before the time that is know as the Victorian Era. Dickens was a political journalist before becoming an author, which may well have helped him to deliver his political messages in his books. Dickens does this well at this, for example from reading Great Expectations one can clearly understand his views on social classes and how he wants to make a change by expressing them to the public, mainly the rich.

Pip is the protagonist and narrator in Great Expectations. Just from his name we can learn some of Dicken's messages. Pip, is a very short name. Dickens named him Pip to show that just because your small in society, that doesn't mean you can't become big. As pip grew up, and rose in the social classes, Dickens is selling the rich that the poor have potential to be big in society.

Pip then explains how he never came to know his father or mother because they had passed away when he was too young to know them. The readers will feel sympathy for pip at this point. Dickens also adds humour to the scene, when he has pip describe his parents by the style of writing on their tombstones, for example when he describes his dad ' he was a square, stout, dark man...' Dickens also uses this to render out a youthful innocence in Pip, as when the convict, Magwitch, asks him about his parents, Pip recites them as they appear on the tombstone.

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When Magwitch is introduced by Dickens, describe by Pip as a 'fearful man', the readers will feel concerned for Pip and his safety. However, they will also feel pity for the man, as Pip describes him as a 'man with no hat and with broken shoes'. Dickens does a good job at making the readers feel pity for both Pip and Magwitch at the same time.

The readers will feel like they need to help Pip, as he is threatened with danger when Magwitch says ' I'll cut your throat!' Although Pip is overpowered by the convict, he is still very polite and kind to him, for example pip replies with 'Sir' frequently, showing a sign of respect and good manner. This tells the readers that just because a person is poor, Pip in this case, that it doesn't mean they are not a gentlemen. Pip is also honest with Magwitch, further emphasizing Dicken's views. Dickens has Pip be polite to Magwitch; this is because Dickens wants the readers to see how Gentleman-like poor people actually are.

Dickens has Magwitch force Pip to get him some food, by threatening him with an evil companion of his. We soon learn that this companion is actually made up. Dickens does this so that Magwitch is not as evil as he seems to be, and is in someway saving Pip from the so-called menace. It also shows how desperate Magwitch is for food, and how desperate poor people would go just to live.

Onto chapter 8, the readers are introduced to a Mr. Pumblechook. Dickens has added this character to create humour and to emphasize his political messages. Mr Pumblechook thought that he was a gentleman because he was rich. Yet when contrasted to Pip, Pip is the real gentleman. Dickens message is vibrant and clear; you do not need to be rich to be a gentleman.

Dickens has Mr. Pumblechook ask Pip a lot of questions, such as 'Seven times nine, boy?' Pip does not know the answer; this is because he is not educated. Immediately the readers will feel sympathy for Pip, as they feel that he deserves one. This will also give the readers the assumption that Mr. Pumblechook. As Pip described, he was unable to eat his breakfast as Mr. Pumblechook kept asking him questions he knew he couldn't answer, and so theoretically stopping him from eating. Dickens uses this to deliver his message that in order to be fed, one must be educated. This will make the rich believe that the poor deserve education. It will make the readers believe Mr. Pumblechook is a selfish man.

Mr. Pumblechook adds humour to the scene because he can be classed as a 'wanna-be' rich person. Both social classes will find this funny so it is an appealing way of Dickens to keep the readers interested and enjoying the book, whilst sharing his political views. Dickens also gave him the name 'Pumblechook' because it doesn't sound very serious, like he is. It will make him sound more like a joke than a gentleman.

When Pumblechook takes Pip to Miss. Havisham's house, Pip meets Estella, the cruel invention of Mrs. Havisham's own madness. Estella's beauty amazes him. However Pip learns that she does not reflect her outer looks on the inside, and instead is cruel on the inside. The message here is simple; the rich look nice on the outside, yet lack that goodness on the inside.

Mrs. Havisham, who adopted Estella, is the owner of the mansion Pip is visiting. She is a mad and vengeful woman, corrupting Estella to break Pip's heart as her fianc� had done previously. This shows how the rich are selfish of other people's feelings, and in this case, Pip, the poor young boy. It will make the rich audience think about how they treat the poor, and make Dicken's messages successful.

The rich also put a lot of pressure on the poor, as demonstrated in Chapter 8. When Pip was playing with Estella, she makes remarks at the difference between the classes. 'He calls the knaves, jacks, this boy... and what coarse hands he has! And what thick boots!' This shows that she is disrespectful to Pip because he is poor and uneducated. This also puts pressure on Pip to change; Pip wanted to change because he liked Estella, but knew he she would never like him if he wasn't a 'gentleman'. Also, when Miss. Havisham asks Pip about his feelings for Estella, he nervously and shyly replies ' I don't like to say'. Miss. Havisham replies 'Tell me in my ear'. This shows a sign of disrespect and disregard to what Pip has to say, and politically Dickens uses to describe how the rich disregard what the poor have to say in society.

Miss. Havisham's house is very big and beautiful. However on the inside, it is old and ugly, 'the standing still of all the pale decayed objects' is an example. Dickens does this because it is a representation of how Dickens portrays the rich. It is also to describe how the rich cover their outside with nice clothes to hide the cruelty on the inside.

From chapter one and 8 of Great Expectations, the statement above could be proved true; Dickens writing is purely political. Dickens use of characters, contrast, setting, metaphors, and description, has inserted many messages in ingenious ways so that the reader will learn of them. Dickens is not only a political writer, but is an outstanding writer all together. His ability to combine a great story with political meanings is perhaps why he is known as one of the best novelists of all time.

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Great Expectations: Dickens writing is purely political. (2017, Oct 25). Retrieved from

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