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Social Classes In Great Expectations
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DescriptionAnalysis of Social Classes in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.
Social Classes play a big role in society in Charles Dickensí Great Expectations. A personís class determined the way they were treated, and generally their level of education. However, class never defined a personís character, as proven over and over again throughout the tale.
Many characters throughout the story were treated differently because of their level of importance in society. The contrast of the treatment of poor people versus the treatment of the wealthy will help explain why classes mattered as far as treatment. In chapter twenty-seven, Joe treats and greets Pip as a gentleman, for that is what he has become. Pipís feelings about Joe's arrival were, "Not with pleasure... I had the sharpest sensitiveness as to his being seen by Drummle." (p. 203). Pip was afraid that Drummle would look-down on Joe for being a commoner. Joe calls pip sir, but Pip feels they should be on equal levels because of their previous friendship. Joe then points out, "Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together, as I may say, and one man's a blacksmith, and one's a whitesmith, and one's a goldsmith, and one's a coppersmith. Diwisions among such must come...." (p. 209). Joe creatively uses this metaphor to show the distinction between himself and Pip. he being more like a blacksmith, of a lower, more common class, and Pip, being more like gold, in reference to his height in society. Another example of class playing a role in the treatment of characters in the story is the scene of the trial of Magwitch vs. Compeyson. Magwitch gets along easier because of his position in society. Magwitch describes Compeyson's defense speech, ."..here you has afore you, side by side, two persons as your eyes can separate wide; one, the younger, well brought up... one; the elder, ill brought up... which is the worst one?" (p. 325). As the trial concludes, the results of are based upon class, not evidence. Social class has a tremendous influence in the way characters of the story are treated.
Classes not only determine the way someone is treated, but also define the level of education one receives. It is important to understand the aspect of education in order to fully comprehend the significance of social class within Great Expectations. A fair example of education playing a role in lower class would be that of Joeís education, which for the most part didnít exist. Pip on the other hand did receive a lower class education; a shallow one, but it was all he had at the time. The teachers spent more time sleeping than teaching, and Pip learned more from the head teacherís assistant (Biddy) than he ...
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