You may not realize this, but most people judge you on the materialistic things you have behind your back, it is not new, it has been going on for years. A prime example of this is the Victorian society. During this era, people praised you, accepted you, and treated you differently based on your image and status. Now that you have a little bit of an insight at this, do you think this ever happened to you? Were you ever looked down on because of how you dressed or what you look like? If you were, it wasn’t nearly as close to how children, adults, and criminals were treated like during this time period.
The characters in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations were persecuted to repressed situations involving money and justice in the Victorian society. Money and happiness in the Victorian Society are two things that are two simple things accomplish alone but getting both is intricate. Most characters in the book have good fortune and unhappiness or low revenue and joy. One recognizable character that has wealth and misery is Miss Havisham. Although she has all the money in the world, she spends a better part of her day plotting against people of the opposite gender. Her fortune is the reason her life got shredded on her wedding day when her fiance jilted her because his only intentions were money. Since that shameful day, she had a grudge against men and lived a depressed life, even making sure her adopted daughter, Estella carries on this grudge.
On Pip’s first visit to Satis House, she even told Estella to break [Pip’s] heart (Dickens, 58). This sets the truth in place that even people with money can’t just receive happiness. The next example is the blacksmith that raised Pip as his own, Joe Gargery. Joe is a simple man, having a decent salary, and enjoying the simple things in life. He is shown throughout sections in the book being comfortable in his normal lowlife environment and tense in the higher-class territory, such as the Satish house and London. Joe finds the necessities of love and happiness even while having a low income.
According to an article written by Keith Selby, when Joe and Pip arrived at Satis house so Pip could be apprenticed to his fatherly figure, Joe is unnerved and affronted… by what he sees as her strange desire to turn his relationship with Pip into a commercial one. Dickens uses repetition and imagery to show the corrupt justice systems offered to citizens in the Victorian Society. There are two instances within the middle of the book that prove his point. The first instance occurs in chapter 42, when Magwitch is sharing his past criminal history with Pip and Herbert Pocket,warn’t it him [Compeyson] as had been know’d by witnesses warn’t it me as had been tried afore warn’t it Compeyson as was recommended to mercy and warn’t it me as got never a word but Guilty? (Dickens, 440). Dickens points out the biased legal system as Compeyson who was a rich, mannered, and well-dressed young man was received a lesser sentence than Magwitch who was a needy, poorly dressed man.
The repetition of the quote shows all the advantages that Compeyson had in court by having a higher social status and his gentleman like behavior and appearance and all the disadvantages Magwitch had in court by being an ex-convict, even though they did commit the same crime as partners. Now, due to the Rehabilitation of Offender’s Act 1974 a minor conviction in a convict’s past can be ignored; however, Magwitch who stole turnips as an orphaned child for survival provides an insight on the different treatment received during a trial between people of the upper and lower class.
Dickens also uses imagery to prove his point by saying, this woman [Molly] was so very artfully dressedshe looked much slighter than she really washad only a bruise or two about her (Dickens, 495). Pip was at his guardian’s house when he noticed the striking similarities between his lover and Molly, Mr. Jaggers’s housekeeper.
Molly’s past showed that she was tried for murder because of jealousy and Mr. Jaggers’s who was her lawyer, exploited her exterior appearance to win the case, even though all evidence pointed to Molly. The imagery of this quote shows how something about a person can be manipulated easily in court to their advantage. Mr. Jagger’s even washes his hand to rid the guilt from his unethical decisions in court. He uses his achievements to get the judge’s trust, even if his client is guilty. In conclusion, Dickens uses figurative language to point out all the factors the judicial court uses to come to a verdict about a convict, using past lives and external image, in society are amoral.
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