Great Expectations Critical Lens

Topics: Great Expectations, Working class, Charles Dickens Pages: 2 (440 words) Published: April 29, 2012
Great Expectations Essay

The story Great Expectations is best viewed through the class studies critical lens with a contrast between rich and poor. Miss Havisham’s estate and Uncle Pumblechook are comparable to the life of Pip and the family he lives with because they are upper class and lower class.

In just the first 30 minutes of the story, the recurring motif of rich versus poor is expressed three times. First, when Pip is forced by Uncle Pumblechook to go to Miss Havisham so that his family can become richer and gain social status. Second, when Estella degrades Pip by telling him he is dirty, smelly, and that she is “out of his league”. Though they had similar backgrounds, she still chose to look down on him for not being as well off. She continued to tell Pip she was better than he was and since she was better she had the ability to do what she wants, when she wants. The third representation of class studies in the first 30 minutes come from another boy of high class in similar age to Pip. The boy accuses Pip of being around Miss Havisham's house only to steal because of how he’s dressed. Additionally, the boy takes an air of superiority and calls himself a “gentleman,” insinuating that Pip isn’t, and that this difference makes the boy better.

Idolization of the upper-class is also portrayed in this story many times over. This may stem from Charles Dickens’ own childhood where he spent most of his time struggling for himself and for his family. During his youth he probably idolized the upper classes a lot because of how easy things must have some to them. Both Uncle Pumblechook and Pip’s caretakers make constant reference to “rising up” in society. This

seems to be their main focus throughout as they try to make their lives better they currently are. Their whole goal in sending Pip to Miss Havisham seemed to be to gain him an opportunity to move into the upper-class. Their hope, after his success with Miss Havisham, was to then vicariously,...
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