In the novel Great Expectations written by Charles Dickens he tackles various social problems that plagued London in the Victorian era, some of which were Poverty, Hunger, Child Labour and Crime, which Dickens himself endured. Crime as a main source of London’s social problems ran rampant, streets became unsafe as criminal activity spiked and new criminals were being imprisoned every day. In these times criminals were considered to be the lowest people in terms of social class and so were often deemed as dangerous, Disgraceful and generally bad in every sense. Charles Dickens believed that there are exceptions to all criminals being bad, in the sense that you cannot determine a person’s character just because he commits a crime but rather by his motives for doing it. Dickens expresses his theory in Great Expectations through Characters such as Abel Magwitch who is a criminal who seeks redemption and Compeyson who is a criminal who wishes to do nothing more than to swindle people. A criminal by definition is someone who breaks the laws set by society (government), therefore although these characters are not stated or known as criminals in the novel Pip, Herbert, and Wemmick by definition can also be considered as criminals for helping Magwitch, this proves that Dickens also believed that anyone can be a criminal not just people of low social class even the innocent but, Dickens did not fail to expose that criminals can be bad and that even though some criminals do not chose to live the life they do there are those who like the life of crime , which he shows through Compeyson.
The character Compeyson represents Charles Dickens ideal image of a criminal and in fact Compeyson is the stereotypical criminal with the exception thathe is not a lowly criminal but that of a gentleman: “He set up fur a gentleman, this Compeyson, and he’d been to a public boarding school and had learning. He was a smooth one to talk and was a dab at the ways of gentlefolks. He was good looking too” (Pg. 343). Although Compeyson is a gentleman he chooses a life of crime, his motives for committing crimes is simply for the fun of swindling people he is portrayed as a cold hearted and disloyal man in which Dickens wished to fully convey as his view of a bad person. Compeyson is much smarter than the average criminal for example Magwitch and uses his wit to manipulate his partners. In the novel it was said that Compeyson had a former partner by the name of Arthur who helped Compeyson form an elaborate plan to steal money from his own sister in law namely Miss Havisham and leave her at the alter on the day of their wedding day. After which his partner Arthur unable to bear the guilt of what he had done killed himself and Compeyson shows no remorse even saying that it’s a good riddance (Pg.345).This shows how low Compeyson is in terms of him as a person, not caring for his own partner and shows no guilt for using him as nothing more than a tool for committing the crime. It is also revealed that Compeyson had a wife that he kicked mostly, here Charles Dickens further develops Compeyson’s bad image by adding minor details that he abuses his wife giving readers a foul image of him and a general dislike for his character. Compeyson also has history with the more redeemable criminal Abel Magwitch and it becomes evident that Magwitch was used by Compeyson just like Arthur was. In the novel Magwitch tells Pip of how he met Compeyson, Magwitch meets him a couple years back before ever meeting Pip and they quickly become accomplices, after getting committed for felony on the charge of putting stolen notes in circulation and other charges, Magwitch and Compeyson were both sent to trial, Compeyson deserted Magwitch and made it seem like Magwitch did all the dirty work and he was helpless under him. The fact that unlike Magwitch, Compeyson is a gentleman and younger works in his favour and he is given a lighter sentence, exactly 7 years to Magwitch’s...
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