The Wealthy Life And The Role Of Mrs Havisham In The Novel The Great Expectation

  • Words 1442
  • Pages 3
Download PDF


Composers are capable of manipulating their texts in their own way and presenting it in various texts types. The text type that is ultimately chosen becomes the mode through which complex ideas are presented, such as wealth and social class. Charles dickens is an author that guided ‘The Great Expectation’ originally in serial form all through to published novel forms. The novel ‘the Great Expectation has allowed Dickens to present the exploration of the class system prevalent in Victorian England in the 1860s, as well as the impacts of this class system, may have had on individual moral progression within confines of society. While Dickens has been able to use literary techniques and context to present these complex ideas it is ultimately the use of moral form which has aided such a representation

Class System

Dickens explores and critiques the rigid class system of Victorian England, where wealth and power were seen as the markers of moral wealth. He reveals the implications of class system on individuals and how it can result in swift changes and attitudes towards wealth that influences an individuals moral progression as well as affects relationships. Dickens recognised the prevailing inequality within the class system and tried to open reality to others through Pip’s voyage towards becoming a gentleman. In the novel ‘The Great Expectations’, Dickens utilises the symbolism of hands as the physical component which help to differentiate between the high and low class. Specifically, he details that members of the working class tended to have “large palms and short fingers interpreted not only as indicators of a propensity to handle shovels, pickaxes, and barrows, but as signs of animality itself” hence highlighting that those of low class rank often have hands associated with animals. Estella makes further reference to Pips hands in the novel by exclaiming ‘And what coarse hands he has!” hence highlighting that Estella utilises observation of his physical appearance to determine his social status and identity, hence leaving the audience to feel pity for Pip. With more time spent at Satis house, Pip begins to realise the differing ideologies and physical differences which plague people and to their place in the society. Following this episode Pip finally concedes, ‘I had never thought of being embarrassed about my hands previously, yet I started to think of them as a detached pair’. This is a vital turning point where he plainly begins to recognize his disparities from others around him.

Click to get a unique essay

Our writers can write you a new plagiarism-free essay on any topic

Desire For Improvement Of Social Status And Ambition

Charles Dickens novel ‘The Great Expectation’ presents the idea of character maturity through structural serialisation of the novel and Bildungsroman structure. As an active member of the romanticist century, Dickens portrays protagonist Pips maturity through serialised volumes which highlight stages in his character growth throughout the novel.

Dickens reveals the ambition of those suppressed individuals to climb the social class ladder through his depiction of the young protagonist Pip who ‘aspires to be a gentleman’ after being relegated by Estella when she calls him ‘a common labouring boy’ hence emphasising on the internal flaws of wealthy characters. Pips desire for self -improvement and to rise in status assists in the plots development as evident when he contrasts his forge village with the wealthy life of Mrs Havisham through the descriptive imagery of ‘coarse hands’ and ‘common boots’. This difference is further reinforced afters Pips visit to Ms Havishams house, when he sees his family’s way of life in a new and negative light in comparison to Ms Havisham high class way of life. This is evident in ‘I thought of how Joe and my sister were sitting in a kitchen and how Ms Havisham and Estella never sat in the kitchen but were far above the level of such common doings’. Nonetheless, as Pip climbs up the social class system he inevitably realises that he was going no- where in terms of status as Magwitch ironically rejoices to Pip ‘look at your clothes, better aint to be got and your books’. This revelation is ultimately linked to how loyalty and moral wealth is not associated to social class and wealth as Pip realises that his own social status is owed to the loyalty of a lower- class criminal. Thus, Dickens depicts the importance of social class during the Victorian era to investigate moral wealth.

Power And Education And Characterisation

The mid 1800’s was explored through Dickens characterisation of Pip and his interaction with other characters hence bringing to the forefront the rigidity of class structure. Pips visit to Satis House and his interactions with Estella and Miss Havisham serves as permanent symbol of his position within a working- class family in culture. Pip is empowered to witness a high society way of life through his regular visits to Estella and Miss Havisham. The distinction among Pip and Estella in both their level of education & the priority they place on manners is underlined in their first interaction. Estella alludes to Pip as a ‘child’ hence highlighting how Estella immediately comes to characterise who he is without having knowledge of his age. Estella and Miss Havisham speak in commands whenever they communicate to Pip. Pip recalls Estella’s demands, “I have a sick fancy that I want to see some play. There, there!’ with an impatient movement of the fingers of her right hand; ‘play, play, play!’” hence highlighting the immense power that Estella exerts over him. This notion is further resonated when Miss Havisham commands Estella in “Estella, take him down. Let him have something to eat, and let him roam and look about him while he eats. Go, Pip” (56) hence highlighting the arrogance and entitlement that accompanies her high-ranking role.

As the story unfolds, Estellas powerfulness is brought to the forefront through the use of language as a tool to demonstrate how her superiority prevails over Pip. This is evident when Estella reacts to Miss Havisham’s directions for her to play with Pip, ‘With this kid! Why he is a typical working kid’. The selection of terms of Estella in describing him shows the manner in which the other characters view him, suggesting that social roles are a matter for others outside of Pip. She defines her role as an upper-class person by underlining Pip and putting emphasis on their differences, in particular by showing them their various methods of thinking. Pip decides to create his life choices on the basis of how she perceives him as an intimidating figure of power as a consequence of her position. Estella refuses to pay much attention to Pip, because of his degrading role when compared to Estella and Mrs Havisham and makes only demands of him He reveals “I want to be a gentleman on her account”. The strength she has over him initially leads him to like her because it seems like the correct thing to do in the setting of Satis House and therefore in life to gain a new position.

Pip questions about Joe’s educational standards and spelling abilities, ‘How do you spell Gargery, Joe?’ . Joe’s following statement immediately enunciates his lack of education, ‘I don’t spell it at all’. The short and abrupt statements by Joe articulate how Joe is vulnerable and limited in his word choice. The effortlessness of Joe’s character and his language makes him a simple character for Pip to associate with. This exposure ignites his desires for self -improvement as he realises starts to create desires differentiation to this thought through his introduction to the class at the Satis House. He starts to assess himself dependent on the suppositions and impression of others, as he was at first ignorant of such contrasts. As the novel advances the responder can distinguish a gradual increase in Pip’s moral development and critical evaluation of social classes due to his interaction with a diverse range of characters.


Pip is the only person that moves freely throughout different occupations throughout the course of the text. His mobility in moving identities fosters the concept of disproving the rigidity of social class structure. Rather than occupying the identity or position to arise from his apprenticeship, Pip takes on the role of the criminal to seek survival. This is evident when Pip smuggles a piece of bread into his trousers and is then compelled to perform duties while still hiding Mr. and Mrs. Joe’s bread. The challenges he endeavours while trying to stir pudding is resonated in, ‘I attempted it with the load on my arm (and that made me think again of the person with the load on his leg)’. The ‘load’ relates to the criminal’s ankle bracelet. Pip freely embraces this criminal lifestyle and is able to do so without any social ramifications.


We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.