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In Great Expectations Great Expectations In his book Great Expectations, the problematic nature of moral judgement and justice that stems from a conflict between Gods law and human law is one of several topical themes that Charles Dickens addresses. This paradox regularly surfaces in his treatment of plot and setting, and is more subtlety illustrated in his use of character. To facilitate the readers awareness of such a conflict, the narrator often uses language that has Christian connotations when relating his thoughts and when giving descriptions of the environment, characters and events that take place. While these things allude to divine and moral law, the story itself revolves around crime and criminals, thereby bringing issues of human law into focus. The climate for this theme is established from the very beginning of the novel.
Pips act of Christian charity towards the convict can also be considered a serious crime. The story opens in a churchyard where the grave, symbolic of eternal judgement can be contrasted with the nearby gallows, symbolizing human punishment. Set on the eve in which we commemorate the birth of Christianity, an institution based on charity and love, Pip feels guilty for bringing food to a starving fellow human. Pip must steal food from his own family to help Magwitch, thereby transforming mercy and compassion into crimes. As Pip is running home, he looks back at the convict and sees him limping towards the gallows as if he were the pirate come to life, and come down, and going back up again (27). This imagery conveys a complicated perception of guilt as something conscious of its own moral accountability, frightening and self-destructive.
When Magwitch is caught, he gives a false confession to stealing the food fro m the Gargery's to protect Pip. Joe replies that he wouldnt want him to starve and that he was welcome to it. Pip highlights the conflict between divine and human law by comparing the Hulk that his convict is returned to as a wicked Noahs ark (56). Thus in these first few chapters, the ideals of justice, mercy, law, and punishment are intermingled and confused. This confusion is furthered by Mrs.
Joe, who actually transforms charity into punishment. Her beatings, bullying and lectures of how she brought Pip up by hand at great personal sacrifice are a constant reminder to Pip of his fault for ever being born. The narrator recounts his sisters response to Mrs. Hubble's observation that young Pip has been a world of trouble and we see that Pip is made to feel guilty even for things completely beyond his control as a young and innocent child: Trouble? echoed my sister; trouble? And then entered on a fearful catalogue of all the illnesses I had been guilty of, and all the acts of sleeplessness I had committed, and all the high place I had tumbled from, and all the low places I had tumbled into, and all the injuries I had done myself, and all the times she had wished me in my grave, and I had contumaciously refused to go there. (45) Pip becomes familiar with guilt and injustice at a very young age, and these issues become central to his motivations throughout his life as a young man.
Ironically it is Orlick, the most contemptible character in the novel who is Mrs. Joes unwitting agent of justice. Orlick, who embodies selfishness and violence, is never brought to justice for his murderous behavior. Magwitch is another example of a failed justice system.
Superficially, he appears to personify evil and moral corruption. Pip finds him horrifying upon their first encounter and equally revolting when he returns to London as Provis. Despite all this, we learn that he is a loving, generous, sympathetic man who risks his life to see Pip and spends his fortune to repay Pip for an act of kindness. While he is a criminal, and deserving of punishment from the law, he is simultaneously deserving of mercy and forgiveness from God.
Compeyson, is treated much more favorably by the law than Magwitch: And when the verdict come, want it Compeyson as was recommended to mercy on account of good character and bad company, and giving up all the information he could agen me, and want it me as got never a word but Guilty? (324). Compeyson exhibits no redeeming qualities at all, but it is Magwitch who gets the tougher sentence. Though Magwitch's fate seems inconsistent with his kind and unselfish behavior, it is in perfect alignment with the theme under consideration. The interplay between divine and human justice is again alluded to at the convicts final court appearance when he says to the Judge My Lord, I have received my sentence of Death from the Almighty, but I bow to yours (272). One can draw from the narrators own self-revelations as well. In preparation for his first visit to Satis House, Pip recalls how he was put into clean linen of the stiffest character, like a young penitent into sackcloth, and was trussed up in my tightest and fearfull est suit [and] delivered to Mr.
Pumblechook, who formally received me as if he were the Sheriff (67). Just two paragraphs later, Pip observes the many little drawers of Mr. Pumblechooks seed shop. As he peeks into the drawers and sees the seeds tied up in brown paper packets he wonders whether the flower-seeds and bulbs ever wanted of a fine day to break out of those jails, and bloom (67). Given that pip is also the word for a small seed, one cannot help but draw a parallel here. When he returns from the Satis House, he tells outrageous lies about his experience there, and admits this to Joe later.
In one short episode, Pip has described himself as a penitent, a prisoner, and a confessed wrongdoer. The conflict between Pips own instincts regarding morality and conventional perceptions of justice and punishment is manifested as the guilt he is burdened with throughout his childhood and young adult life. Pip accumulates these feelings and attempts to suppress them throughout most of the story. At one point the narrator takes a moment to reflect on his guilty conscience: As I had grown accustomed to my expectations, I had insensibly begun to notice their effect upon myself and those around me. Their influence on my own character, I disguised from my recognition as much as possible, but I knew very well that it was not all good. I lived in a state of chronic uneasiness respecting my behaviour to Joe.
My conscience was not by any means comfortable about Biddy. (256) He goes into great debt in his attempts to distract himself from this guilt, and drags his dear friend Herbert along with him (which he also expresses guilt about). His vain attempt to make reparations with his conscience by sending a penitential codfish and a barrel of oysters. The following people effect Pip and are effected by him. Each has distinct personal characteristics and qualities. Mrs. Joe, Pips sister, is about twenty when Pip is born.
She is Pips only known relative that is alive and has brought him up by hand. She is portrayed as a strict mean person to Pip and Joe Gargery throughout her presence in the novel, by using the tickler, a cane for beating him when bad. Joe Gargery, Pips brother-in-law and foster father, is the most good-hearted of all Dickens characters in this book. He submits to Mrs.
Joes rampages because he would rather have her rage fall on him than on Pip. Joe is a hard worker, has many moral values, and is a very loyal friend. Able Magwitch, a convict and Pips benefactor, was extremely thankful when young Pip supplied him with food and a file after he attempted to escape. He worked many years in New South Wales, Australia, to build a fortune to give to Pip. Underneath his outward frightening appearance, a fearful man, all in coarse gray, with a great iron on his leg. Magwitch is a sensitive and charitable man.
John Wemmick, one of the books openly good people, lives two lives. The London Wemmick has a mouth like a post box, and follows the business procedures learned from Mr. Jaggers. The Walworth Wemmick is calm, good-natured, and kind. He is entirely faithful to his father, the Aged Parent. He is the man who hands out Pips allowance when he is young, under the orders of Jaggers.
Also he is one of Pips friends helping him in time of need with his Walworth Statements, of advice. Mr. Jaggers, probably one of the most intelligent men throughout the book, is hired by Magwitch to hand out money and relay information to Pip. Jaggers is a clever, arrogant and careful Lawyer. He never commits himself to anything and is portrayed throughout the book as a person interested only in things that will make money for him. Estella Havisham becomes a girl with a heart of ice exactly what Miss Havisham created her to be.
When she gets older she also develops a basic honesty, this is seen when she tries to warn Pip and Miss Havisham that she is incapable of feeling emotion. Estella is intelligent and beautiful and Pip cannot stop loving her. His heart is broken when she marries Drummle, a vulgar person. Estella tells Pip in chapter 44 Should I fling myself away on a man who would the soonest feel that I took nothing from him?
She was speaking of Pip but he does not understand what she means so it does not help him comfort the pain in his heart. Miss Havisham, daughter of a wealthy brewer, remains a scrawny white haired woman in seclusion throughout the book. Pip meets her as part of the plan to teach Estella her lessons against the male sex. Herbert Pocket, the Pale young gentleman which Pip dislikes at first, soon becomes his close friend. He is pleasant, a hard worker, and easy to get along with.
Pip learns from his experiences and he changes as he matures. The following will discuss two of his unfavorable actions and two favorable actions during his maturing process. One of Pips unfavorable actions is the unconditional love he gave to Estella. The problem with this is he is setting himself up for a disappointment. Estella has been brought up by Miss Havisham to have a heart of ice.
The result is that she can not love anyone, not Pip or Miss Havisham. Estella even tells Pip this but because his love is so great he does not take it seriously and eventually his heart is broken when she marries Drummle, who is a complete loser in Pips eyes. Another of Pips unfavorable decisions include neglecting Joe and Biddy. Joe had been like a father to Pip. Being a good friend, supporting him in time of need, and teaching him important values of life. Biddy first taught Pip to read and write and loved Pip.
For Pip to turn his back on these early friends just because of his new position in society was wrong. Among Pips favorable actions is the donation of money to Herbert's business secretly. This action shows Pips goodwill and genuine kindness to a good friend in need. Another favorable action is the final realization by Pip that he is the one to blame for being mislead to believing that Miss Havisham is his benefactor, and that he was not ment for Estella all along. In life, symbolism is present all around us. Whether it is in the clothes we wear, the things we do, or what we buy, everything has a meaning.
Symbolism is also present in literature and it is shown in Charles Dickens Great Expectations. The symbols of isolation, manipulation, the tragic hero, and wanting to be someone else are seen throughout the book through the characters of Estella, Magwitch, Miss Havisham, and Pip. The character of Estella represents the symbols of isolation and manipulation. By acting as an adult when she was still young, she separated herself from Pip and others. This was due in large part to the way Miss Havisham, her stepmother, raised her.
She had no emotion, as Miss Havisham used her for revenge on men. On his first visit to the Satis House, Pip overheard Miss Havisham tell Estella Well? You can break his heart. [ 65 ]. By doing what Miss Havisham tells her to, she shows she is just as heartless as her stepmother.
She also represents manipulation in how she played with Pips feelings, who has strong feelings for her eventhough he also cannot stand her. She tells Pip Come here! You may kiss me if you like. [ 102 ]. Although the kiss may have meant a lot to Pip, it did not mean anything to Estella as she was just playing with Pips emotions.
The character of Magwitch represents the symbols of isolation and the tragic hero. In this case, he was physically isolated from society because he was a convict and was looked upon with disgust. When Magwitch confesses and apologizes to Joe for stealing the food, Joe replies poor miserable fellow create. [ 43 ]. Magwitch also illustrates the symbol of the tragic hero.
Throughout most of the book, Magwitch is looked down upon by Pip. Magwitch talks about his gratitude for Pip when he helped him as a convict many years ago. You acted noble, my boy, said he. [ 356 ]. Noble Pip! And I have never forgot it! [ 356 ]. He shows why he is a hero when he explains to Pip that he was the benefactor and the one responsible for making him a gentleman and helping him achieve his great expectations.
Yes, Pip, dear boy, Ive made a gentleman on you! Its me wot done it! [ 359 - 360 ]. After his death, however, Pip feels guilt and sadness when he learns what Magwitch spent most of his life trying do. As a result, he shows the readers why he was the tragic hero.
One character who represents the symbols of isolation and manipulation is Miss Havisham. For most of her life, she has refused to let go of her past as she continues to wear her wedding dress and keep her wedding cake. Her decaying dress and cake are symbols of how her life rotted away. It also depicted the state of the Satis House, where she was isolated from the rest of society.
The house is used as a metaphor to show how they decayed and crumbled as time passed on. Miss Havisham also illustrates the symbol of manipulation. She had raised Estella as a heartless stepdaughter whose main purpose was to seek revenge on men. This central motivation of revenge resulted from the fact that she was a rejected lover.
Her plan is shown when she tells Estella to go play with Pip. Well? You can break his heart. [ 65 ]. As a result, she made Estella into a human monster with no emotion. Near the end, Miss Havisham dies a hopeless neurotic. The one character who shows the symbol of how people always want to be someone else but than decide they are better off with whom they are is Pip, the storys protagonist.
As a boy, Pip wishes to be a gentleman. With unknown help from Magwitch the convict, Pips dreams come true. After attaining his fortune and his expectations, Pip is miserable. As I had grown accustomed to my expectations, I had intensity begun to notice their effect upon myself and those around me. [ 305 ]. He noticed the negative effects as he was in debt because of his lavish spending and he also realized how much he neglected Joe and Biddy, his two best friends as a kid. In the end, Pip changes as he becomes a loyal friend to Magwitch in his time of need, tries to repair his relationship with Joe and Biddy, and goes from almost total destruction to moderate business success.
He also shows how people gain from giving. The only good fortune from the money he received from his private benefactor, Magwitch, was giving it to Herbert. As shown from the examples above, symbolism plays an important part in Charles Dickens Great Expectations. Many symbols such as isolation, manipulation, the tragic hero, and wanting to be someone else are present throughout the novel and are brought to life by the characters. People in todays society must realize that a lot of what we do symbolizes something about us and helps explain who we are as people.
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