Great Expectations

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Great Expectations

There is no single definition in the Victorian society as to what constitutes a “gentleman.” Even the Victorians themselves were unsure exactly what made a gentleman. Some believed it was a person’s central characteristics and others were not sure how long it would take to become one. Some people became gentleman from right of birth, but that alone was not enough. Others were considered gentleman because of their occupation, for example clergymen, army officers, and members of parliament were considered gentlemen, yet other reputable professions such as engineers were not (Cody). Some Victorians believed it could be obtained through chivalry, some others believe that a gentleman is not entitled to live off of the work of others, but still many do. By the later part of the century, the Victorians agreed that a gentleman must receive a traditional, liberal education that was based on Latin and attend an elite public school and with that alone he would be a gentleman no matter what his social class was (Cody). Although Victorian society talks about the monetary aspect of being a gentleman, they overlook the moral aspect. The gentry class of women of the Victorian Era usually inherited their land, their title, and their wealth. It seems like these women did very little, but they did manage their home and household. They attended social parties and balls while enjoying dancing. The unmarried women would spend a lot of time with other unmarried women, but once they were married they became head of the household and then had little time to spend with their friends (Women of Victorian England). In the novel Great Expectations, Biddy is a classmate of Pip. She is a simple, country-girl who eventually becomes very close to him. Biddy does not fit into the traditional Victorian definition of a “gentlewoman”.

In Great Expectations, Pip is a poor country-boy who values what a gentleman stands for and spends his life trying to achieve gentleman...
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