The Hands Society
Throughout time society as a whole has greatly changed and developed to what it is now. One major part of the society is the social class structure. In Charles Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations, Dickens expresses his beliefs on that structure in many ways. Since Dickens wrote the novel during the Victorian Era it reflects and evaluates the beliefs and values of the time. For the most part ones place in the social order was based on wealth and the reputation of ones relations. In general, the member of the higher class were unhappy and those in the lower class were joyful. He does this to show that wealth isn’t everything. He continues to display that idea throughout the book and he displays its effects on various aspects of life. Dickens uses the motif of hands, which defines certain characteristics of people, to represent the effects of social class on the lives of many throughout the book because he holds a negative view on the social class system. The hands motif is used as a symbol to portray the relationships between the members of different classes. For starters, upon Pip and Estella’s first meeting Estella comments on Pip’s hands and Pip reads deeply into it, “And what coarse hands he has!’…I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before, but I began to consider them a very indifferent pair” (Dickens 59). From Pips low class viewpoint he had never seen hands as an important aspect of himself, however, because of Estella’s high class upbringing she has grown to notice every sign of peasantry. Next, after Pip’s departure to London, Joe came to visit him and since Pip was now of a higher class Joe and Pip formally shacked hands (Dickens 219). Hence Pip and Joes once strong and loving relationship has now changed because Pip is now a gentleman and since Joe is a mere commoner, they have less in common and they don’t understand each other as they had in the past. Additionally, upon learning that Drummle is...
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