Great Expectations, and How Themes of Obsession Shine in Modern Society

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Horace Greeley said, “Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character.” Despite this, people throughout history have been obsessed with fame, fortune, and social status. This kind of obsession is shown through the protagonist of Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations, Pip, as he visits Miss Havisham and Estella. Obsessions like this are also shown in today’s society, (with celebrities, status, and becoming famous) and such obsessions are created by the media. Regardless of the time period, anyone can be exposed to wealth and social status and become unhealthily obsessed.

In Great Expectations, Pip becomes obsessed with social class, wealth, and becoming a gentleman. However, he wasn’t always this way. At the start of the novel, he was content with a future as a blacksmith, working as Joe’s apprentice. Then, after his visit to Miss Havisham’s home, he begins to obsess over social class. He feels ashamed of being common, and no longer “like[d] Joe’s trade. [He] had liked it once, but once was not now.” (82), and wished for a courtship with the wealthy, gorgeous (and snobbish) Estella. The exposure to the wealth of Miss Havisham, and the beauty and snobbery of Estella had influenced his views on society, and created an unhealthy obsession with status and wealth within Pip. However, this kind of obsession is not strictly found in Victorian England.

In our modern world, we also obsess over social status, fame and wealth. In an article on the media and celebrity obsession, journalist Katie Ryan writes, “From the marriage of Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, to the birth of Britney Spears’ child, our culture values the importance of celebrity. The media, to be specific is obsessed with celebrity and vice versa; due to the power that each holds. When a magazine puts someone famous on its cover, people are more enticed to buy it.” Another example of the media creating celebrity obsession is shown in...
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