Social Class in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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Charles Dickens, author of Great Expectations, provides a perfect example of the hope of class mobility. The novel portrays very diverse and varied social classes which spread from a diligent, hardworking peasant (Joe) to a good-natured middle class man (Mr. Wemmick) to a rich, beautiful young girl (Estella). Pip, in particular, elevates in the social pyramid from a common boy to a gentleman with great expectations. With his rise in society, he also alters his attitude, from being a caring child to an apathetic gentleman. During this process, Pip learns how he should act and how to become a real gentleman. Social mobility and wealth, furthermore, carves a disposition and how a character is looked upon. Pip, the main character is a carefree, pleasant child who is born into a peasant class. He loved his brother-in-law, Joe and his friend Biddy and even helped a convict in the marshes. However, ever since he visited the Satis mansion, Pip transforms his personality and dreams on becoming a prosperous gentleman. His prayers are eventually answered when an influential lawyer, Jaggers, informs him that he is able to be educated to become a gentleman in London and inherit a large fortune. Joe, Pip’s brother-in-law, is a blacksmith and also from the peasant class. Unlike Miss Havisham who received her wealth from inheritance, Joe works diligently in order to make a living. However, the result of his hard work has no effect and he remains in the lower class. Because of Pip’s aspiration to improve himself socially, he transformed himself to supercilious and proud towards Joe and Biddy. For instance, Pip states, “If I could have kept him [Joe] away by money, I certainly would have paid money” (Dickens 217). When Joe visited Pip in London, he realized his awkwardness and tells Pip that the social division between them is natural, and it is not Pip’s fault. Moreover, Joe says, “I’m wrong in these clothes. I’m wrong out of the forge, the kitchen, or off th’ meshes” (Dickens...
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