Victorian Era Research Paper

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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 circulation (Dickens 679). In the Victorian Era, theft and burglary were serious offences that could be brought up to court (Mitchell 96). Magwitch is appointed with 14 years of prison, while Compeyson was only imposed with 7 years (Dickens 681). Most offences brought to the courts were transgressed by the working class, and no matter what crimes they have committed, they normally “provided the image of the criminal (Emsley Crime and Victorians). “And when the verdict came warn’t it Compeyson as was recommend to mercy on account of good character and bad company (Dickens 681).” Magwitch is saying that the judges will side more so with Compeyson because he is “of good character and bad company”; bad company being Magwitch because of his meager education and low social class. ”Assumptions about who were, and who were not, criminals shaped the way in which society sought to deal with them (Emsley Victorian Crime).” Magwitch’s pugnaciousness led him to seek retribution on Compeyson (Dickens 682). Since prison guards and officials set speaking as a transgression of prison rule, Magwitch found it hard to do so (Piette). Silence was one of the harshest forms of punishment, according to Piette. It even instigated insanity in some prisoners...
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