Lireture Analysis: Charles Dickens Research Paper
Dickens is regarded as the master of style because he has the ability to describe scenes in colorful detail thus making the scenes being described to come alive. The two pieces of work that will be the main area of concern in this analysis are ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and ‘Oliver Twist’.
Charles Dickens’ writing reflects his extraordinary gift of observance. Not many novelists can accomplish what this author has managed to achieve in his books. He has the capacity to lay out images of things and people in a manner that the ordinary human being would not envisage.
Dickens’ writings integrate what he observes with what he remembers and imagines. Seldom does one miss even the most trivial of details in his work. It is these trivialities that bring out his most critical strength in literature (Gissing 63). In ‘Oliver Twist’, the following passage exemplifies this feature:
“his gaze encountered the terrified face of Oliver Twist, who, despite all the admonitory looks and pinches of Bumble, was regarding the repulsive countenance of his future master with a mingled expression of horror and fear too palpable to be mistaken even by a half-blind magistrate” (Dickens Oliver 18).
The capacity to describe vividly probably stemmed from Dickens’ attention to detail even in his real life. In letters that he wrote to his colleagues, Charles often noticed the most peculiar things about people. One particular letter was written to Wilkie on the 17th of January 1858. He describes an incident in which he had gone to visit a mental asylum and found a man who was dumb and deaf.
It was only during the late stages of his illness that others began to notice his insanity. Dickens asked about his occupation and found that he had worked as a telegraph operator.
He speculated about the nature of messages that he sent to different parts of the world in his mental state. Charles did not think about the obvious things; he looked as the mentally-ill patient’s perspective from a totally unexpected angle. It was this talent that he transmitted to his novels.
Something else that comes to mind when reading this author’s classic tales is his propensity to find romance in unpleasant or routine scenarios. Dickens can find something valuable out of even the most wretched of places. He takes a seemingly insignificant and disagreeable occurrence and then relates it with the story in a manner that enriches it.
For instance in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, he describes a battle scene in Bastille as a “vast dusky mass of scarecrows to and fro, with frequent gleams of light above the billowy heads, where steel blades and bayonets shone in the sun” (Dickens A Tale 244). Through this description, he brings out the tense and belligerent atmosphere so effectively, and thus enriches the story.
In ‘Oliver Twist’ several descriptions of drudgery and filth fill the chapters. In one scenario, he describes the tenements as “fast closed and molding away… houses had become insecure from age and decay and were prevented from falling into the street by huge beams of wood reared against the walls” (Dickens Oliver 5).
It is clear from this description that the state of poverty in that tenement was excessive. The author emphasizes this state of affairs by adding the description of the beams. Such creativity makes one feel like one is in those establishments, and thus enhances the narrative.
It is easy to find unforgettable scenes in Dickens’ work. The reason behind their impressiveness is his ability to paint them rather than merely narrate them. For instance in “A Tale of Two Cities”, the author refers to France for the first time in chapter five. At this moment, he talks about a broken wine cask. He then backs up the picture of wine casks with some descriptions of the surrounding noise.
In another instance, the author paints a picture of the grindstone scene. He talks about the men who sharpen their swords and knives elaborately. Such scenes make the work appear as though it is an actual painting rather than mere prose. The author thus manages to affect the audience’s responses through these spatial representations (Stange 384).
Like any other great writer, Dickens drew inspiration from a number of historical occurrences or figures. However, he was not interested in recapturing these crucial moments of history in every detail possible. Charles simply wanted to draw lessons from them.
For instance, he often told his biographer how he had read the book “French Revolution” by Thomas Carlyle hundreds of times; most structural elements of “A Tale of Two Cities” come from this book. Instead of reconstructing the past, Dickens chooses to tell the story of his characters through these historical patterns.
When describing ancient practices, such as the whipping post, Charles reminds the reader that he is talking about an extinct practice. As such, one does not feel lost in a bygone era. Everything that takes place in the lives of his characters resonates with the social order of the time (Hutter 448).
Therefore, the suffering and death that took place gains a lot of relevance in the mind of reader. This serves to keep all scenes highly relevant and thus captivating. It is these sorts of tactics that make Dickens’ work exceptional.
On must realize that it is not just the great description of these scenes that makes Charles Dickens novels so remarkable. He also has an instinctive skill of integrating disorderly events into one remarkable and united tale. The story of ‘Oliver Twist’ exemplifies this strategy; throughout the narration, there is a mystery that must be solved by the protagonist.
He needs to find his true identity, and when he achieves this, then he will find his true position in society. All of the adventures in the book are tied to this goal, even though the ambition does not seem to be so obvious in the beginning.
It is these overarching themes that make the words and descriptions in the book so meaningful. Charles Dickens does not just write ‘Oliver Twist’ for the sake of writing; each description is filled with meaning. The scenes have a huge impact on the outcome of the story. For instance
“Mr. Brownlow went on from day to day, filling the mind of his adopted child with stores of knowledge, and becoming attached to him, more and more,. And his nature developed itself and showed the thriving seeds of all he wished him to become” (Dickens Oliver 53).
This passage captures the very essence of the book. Oliver always wanted to be independent; having grown up in the streets, he had to adopt a certain degree of self determination. On the other hand, Oliver still wanted someone else to make choices for him since the latter option would cause him to be accepted by the middle class or other respectable members of society.
Therefore, when Brownlow fills him with knowledge, he is allowing the boy to reconcile these two needs. It takes a stroke of genius to capture such conflicting goals in small passages such as the one quoted above. Charles Dickens was able to combine verbal prowess with meaning-making perfectly in this excerpt (Miller 83).
Charles Dickens’ style also elicits emotions from its audiences owing to its directness. ‘Oliver Twist’ is quite a poignant tale, but only the author’s descriptions create these effects. For instance when Dickens talks about Oliver’s imprisonment, one fully identifies the plight of this young boy. He is in an underground prison, which could fall at any time owing to its weak foundations and decaying structures (Dickens Oliver 3).
Furthermore, the room is absolutely dark so that Oliver cannot see his surroundings. If one cannot see the walls, then it is almost as if one is covered by nothingness. A picture of gloom and hopelessness may take over one’s life. It is no wonder Oliver went to the corner so that he could at least touch something real.
Dickens then contrasts the coldness of the walls with the gloom in the room, and asserted that the protagonist preferred the cold. The loneliness and isolation that this boy feels is unmistakable; Charles cleverly uses two highly undesirable elements to bring out the magnitude of Oliver’s troubles.
If the boy was in such as state as to prefer a cold, hard surface over the nothingness, then it must have been completely unbearable for him. The witty choice of words draws out audiences’ emotions.
It is only when an author is able to wear the characters’ shoes that he can think about his reactions to them. If Dickens had not imagined himself to be Oliver in that dark room, he would not have thought about the temporary comfort that the walls accorded the protagonist. Such vividness and capacity to draw out people’s emotions is what causes many readers to admire Dickens’ work.
Any novelist should aim at pleasing his audience. ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and ‘Oliver Twist’ are some of the most pleasant novels in English literature (Baysal 14). Therefore, in this realm, Dickens has succeeded as an artist. However, it should be noted that not everyone admired this style of writing during Dickens’ lifetime.
Some critics such as James Stephen thought that appealing to audiences’ emotions rather than their sense of reason was crude and corny. These critics classified ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ as historical fiction, so they presumed that it should be philosophical in nature. Other critics of his time such as Aldous Haxley claimed that it was vulgar to fake emotions as Dickens had done because sincerity was a talent in literature.
While these criticisms may be valid to a certain extent, they do not address the root-cause of Dickens’ stylistic preferences. Dickens wanted to write ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ in a manner that would educate the masses about an important historical event.
He was not writing for the historians or the scholars, so it should come as no surprise that these audiences found his work unsatisfactory. The dates and events were accurately stated in his book and that is what mattered. Fictional writers must prioritize the needs of their readers as it is not possible to satisfy everyone.
Many readers were drawn to Dickens’ work because he used characters that they were already familiar with. For those who did not about such characters, Dickens always made a point of introducing them ever so carefully.
It was this element that constantly won them over. In doing so, Dickens would use habits that are common to all in order to achieve this aim. By drawing on common humanity, Charles was able to make his scenes come alive (Forster 125).
“Now that he was enveloped in the old calico robes… he was badged and ticketed, and fell into his place at once – a parish child-the orphan of a half-starved drudge.. to be despised by all and pitied by none” (Dickens Oliver 8).
Dickens was aware that all human beings have experienced indifference or disdain. Using phrases that captured these sentiments ensured that even the middle class could understand Oliver’s status.
Dickens was a master of style because he had a talent of observance, which manifested itself in the form of intricate details. Furthermore, he would find romance in the most unexpected places. As if these were not enough, Dickens often painted images of his scenes rather than just describing them.
Perhaps the most important aspect of his work was his emotional appeal. He achieved this by putting himself in the shoes of his characters. He also introduced unfamiliar audiences to the world of his books using common humanity. It was these stylistic strategies that made him a literary genius.
Baysal, Alev. Caryle’s Influence upon A Tale of Two Cities. 8 Jun. 2007. Web.
Dickens, Charles. The Adventures of Oliver Twist. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867. Googlebooks. Web.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. NY: Bentham, 1859. Googlebooks. Web.
Forster, John. The Life of Charles Dickens. Cambridge: John Wilson and Son, 1872. Googlebooks. Web.
Gissing, George. Charles Dickens: A critical study. 2001. Web.
Hutter, Albert. Nation and Generation in A Tale of Two Cities. PMLA 93.3(1978): 448-462. Web.
Miller, Joseph. Charles Dickens: the world of his novels. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1958. Googlebooks. Web.
Stange, Robert. Dickens and Fiery past: A Tale of Tow Cities Reconsidered. English Journal 2009: 381-390. Web.
A Christmas Carol of Dickens: Never Too Late for a Change of Heart Essay
Charles Dickens, a classic English, became famous thanks to plenty of renowned literary works. Among them, the readers can find A Christmas Carol, a ghost story-styled novella about the Christmas changes of an old moneybag Ebenezer Scrooge, published in 1843. Researches note that despite the small size of the book, it quickly gained attention and brought even greater fame to its author1. With a more in-depth look, one can find several Victorian-era aspects of the author, but the vital point of the book appears to be its moral sense. This side of the book promotes the possibilities to cleanse one’s sins and correct the wrongdoings.
The story is set up in London, right before Christmas Eve. Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy banker, does not enjoy the preparations for the holiday since he values only money. Nor does Scrooge approve the activity of his clerk Bob Cratchit who asks to dismiss him sooner, and his nephew Fred who unsuccessfully asks uncle to join the party. However, Scrooge is oblivious to the significant changes that will happen soon.
At first, the greedy elder is approached by the ghost of his deceased business colleague Jacob Marley. The spirit laments about his heavy punishment in the afterlife and gives Scrooge a warning that his partner still has a chance to regret the greediness. For this reason, according to Marley, several more ghosts will visit Scrooge and make him reconsider. Afterward, the character runs through three series of visions when the spirits of Christmas.
The first Ghost of the Christmas Pas reminds Scrooge about the days of his youth. Back in school, he was not wealthy but enthusiastic and hopeful. However, business affairs and financial success began to twist Scrooge. The course of events even led to the breakup with his fiancée Belle. Then, the second Ghost of the Christmas Present guides Scrooge to the houses of both Fred and Bob. The former and his friends enjoy the party and laugh about the miser uncle. The latter and his family happily celebrate the holiday, despite their poverty and illness of Bob’s son Tiny Tim. The Christmas Ghost warns Scrooge that Tim will likely not survive to the next year and that the man should fear his Ignorance and Want.
Finally, the Ghost of the Christmas future shows Scrooge the flashforward of the next Christmas. He learns about the death of an unknown person, but nobody mourns. The colleagues agree to visit the funeral only if treated with a meal, and the person’s attendants take away the belongings while mocking the stranger’s cupidity. Then, Scrooge is informed about Tim’s death and finds himself in a cemetery. He realizes that the deceased one is nobody else but himself. The events make Scrooge promise he will change his life to prevent such an outcome.
In the finale, Scrooge awakens in his bed and is happy to feel he is still alive. As the first acts of change, he sends a Christmas turkey to Bob and visits Fred’s celebration, surprising everyone. Eventually, the city came to known Scrooge “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man” (Dickens, 2018, p. 172)2. Even more, Scrooge has helped Tiny Tim to recover and became like a second father to the boy.
Scrooge and his redemption path
The main character of the plot is Ebenezer Scrooge, a money giver described by Dickens as “a tight-fisted hand at a grindstone”3. Hence, the story itself appears to be an arc of redemption for a greedy and uncaring person, who is unfazed by the joy of everyday life, including Christmas. Nevertheless, as everyone knows, holidays are considered the days when miracles happen, and Scrooge’s change of heart is exactly the kind of a miracle.
The Christmas Ghosts, though magical, represent the periods of Scrooge’s life: youth, present time, and probable future. In the first vision, the character relives the moment when he came to be such a stingy and discontent man as currently. In the second one, Scrooge discovers mockery and hate of his person in social groups, as well as the fact that everyone is happy about Christmas except him. In the end, Scrooge realizes that the consequences of his ignorance would not only lead to his grave, but his image without virtues would stay forgotten. Thus, according to Chitwood. Scrooge can be considered “as a model of psychological complexity”4 Since the entire Christmas Carol is, in fact, a reflection of his life. However, only after seeing himself in a mirror or from a side perspective, Scrooge can fully repent.
The ways of Scrooge’s redemption would not be possible without the circle of the characters closest to him. The ghost of Marley represents the punishment of the afterlife that can await the moneybag. Bob Cratchit, a poor clerk, desperately trying to keep his family happy, makes Scrooge reconsider whether real happiness lies in money. Moreover, because of Bob’s financial problems, his employer feels responsible for the illness and possible death of Tiny Tim. Nonetheless, Scrooge’s nephew Fred remains one of the few who welcome Scrooge, despite his constant rejection. What is also essential, Fred reminds Scrooge about his youthful self who treated the life with optimism, yet the main character failed to comprehend the parallel before the Ghosts’ arrival.
There is always time for changing
Of course, Dickens did not mean for the book to represent only one idea or theme at a time. It muses about multiple problems, including family values and the importance of Christian holidays in one’s household, which, according to Hancock (2016), somewhat diminished during the industrialization period 5. But the redemption mentioned earlier can be considered a central theme of the book. Its process does happen under the influence of Christian morals, but they seem to be the instrument instead of the cause. If one looks on Scrooge in the beginning and then on his personality in the finale, the drastic contrast demonstrates everyone’s ability to move forward, whatever the background and age. So, Scrooge’s promise of change after seeing the possible end represents that the change of heart can happen even in the elder days.
Besides, there is one additional but essential aspect of Scrooge’s resolve. The story shows that there is nothing predestined in one’s life. For this reason, one can view Scrooge as a broken and battered man who accepts his fate, but after seeing the consequences, he decided to fight it. Eventually, the vision of the Future Christmas did not come true precisely because of Scrooge’s actions to prevent it.
To sum up, A Christmas Carol of Dickens is one of his famous writings about the miraculous transformation of a former moneybag Scrooge to a joyful philanthropist. The entire plot is centered around his path to redemption, which becomes possible not only with miraculous Christmas Ghosts but with Scrooge reflecting on his life and finally noticing the joy of the close ones. Thus, the book is meant to present hope for a heart change even later in life, as well as the power to prevent the worst outcomes of one’s actions.
Chitwood, Brandon. “Eternal returns: A Christmas Carol’s Ghosts of Repetition.” Victorian Literature and Culture 43, no. 4 (2015): 675–687.
Dickens, Charles. Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol: A Book-To-Table Classic. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2018.
Hancock, Philip. “A Christmas Carol: A Reflection on Organization, Society, and the Socioeconomics of the Festive Season.” Academy of Management Review 41, no. 4 (2016): 755–765.
Welch, Bob. 52 little lessons from a Christmas Carol. Nashville, Tennessee: Nelson Books, 2015.
1 Bob Welch, 52 little lessons from a Christmas Carol (Nashville, Tennessee: Nelson Books, 2015), 1.
2 Charles Dickens, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol: A Book-To-Table Classic (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2018), 172.
3 Charles Dickens, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol: A Book-To-Table Classic (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2018), 4.
4 Brandon Chitwood, “Eternal returns: A Christmas Carol’s Ghosts of Repetition,” Victorian Literature and Culture 43, no. 4 (2015): 675.
5 Philip Hancock, “A Christmas Carol: A Reflection on Organization, Society, and the Socioeconomics of the Festive Season,” Academy of Management Review 41, no. 4 (2016): 757.
A Christmas Carol by Dickens Essay
A Christmas Carol by Dickens was first published on December 19, 1843. Since its publication, this book, arguably one of his most famous works, has made its mark on American culture and literature. It is difficult to underestimate the significance of A Christmas Carol, which was made into numerous TV and stage versions. Some would even argue that this Dickens’s work invented or rather reinvented Christmas, while others underline the importance of his work for the development of the new forms of literature. This essay aims to discuss the theme and the characters of the book. It starts with a summary of the plot, then examines the main characters and the themes and concludes with the personal opinion on the novella.
Dickens offers a story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy and selfish older man living alone in his London house, whose only concern is money. Scrooge hates Christmas and is indifferent to other people’s suffering, including his workers. However, on Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his business partner and by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. The first ghost takes him on a journey through his past Christmases: one of a miserable and lonely little boy and others of a young man, more interested in gold than in his fiancé. The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge his clerk’s family Christmas, a Christmas evening of a poor, but loving family, and his nephew’s celebrations, where guests mock him for his unfriendliness and greediness. Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Future shows him his own death, which would bring more joy to people who knew him than grief. The terror of this night magically transforms Ebenezer Scrooge into a generous and good-hearted man, kind to his neighbors and eager to help those in need.
The main hero of the book, Ebenezer Scrooge, is characterized mainly by his greediness and by the fear that he creates among people who know him. Charles Dickens describes (1843, 4) him as such: “No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man […] inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge”. Even his clerk is terrified of him and barely dares to speak in his presence. According to Thompson (2017, 269), the descriptions of Scrooge’s personality allude to the Old Testament figure of King Belshazzar, the ruler who loves wealth and who is punished by God for his greed and pride. However, unlike Belshazzar, Scrooge takes advantage of the warning delivered by the Christmas ghosts and changes, fearing the dreadful end that is awaiting him. He accepts to change and declares: “I will not shut out the lessons that they [the Spirits of the Past, the Present and the Future] teach” (Dickens 1843, 57). Thus, he is a sinner, but the night that he goes through makes hem find the strength to change. This magical and radical overnight transformation becomes central to the figure of Ebenezer Scrooge.
Other central figures are the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come. The Ghost of Christmas Past is the first ghost to visit Scrooge; he is quite and rather compassionate towards Scrooge, to whom he shows the pictures of his childhood. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a joyful and vibrant character, wearing a green robe and symbolizing joy and happiness. The third Ghost is the most fearsome one; he wears a black cloak and remains silent during their journey. Although the ghosts have distinct personalities, their common characteristic is their role as the messengers. Their figures also reflect Dickens’ interest in “the narrative possibilities of the communication between the living and the dead” (Wood 2018, 412). Dickens’s interest in the supernatural urges him to experiment with the forms of expression and create the figures of these Spirits to deliver the message to Scrooge.
Another prominent figure is Tiny Tim, who is the most significant figure of childhood in the book. He is a son of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s clerk. He has a disability, but is full of cheer and love and brings a lot of joy to his family. His words – “God bless us every one!” – mark the end of the novella (Dickens 1843, 92). The figure of Tiny Tim reflects the conception of childhood as the stage of innocence, although it is not the only way children are represented in the novella (Robinson 2016, 8). For instance, the readers observe frightening figures of children clinging to the clothes of the Ghost of Christmas Present. Contrary to this image of “figures which are a product of a fallen world (Robinson 2016, 2), Tim is a constant reminder to everyone of the courage in the face of difficulties.
The characters of A Christmas Carol serve to express Dickens’s Christian humanistic views and attitudes. According to Newey (2016, 12), A Christmas Carol is one of the most important works of Charles Dickens in a sense that it “brings into focus many of Dickens’s core concerns and attitudes of mind.” Dickens demonstrates the transformation of a greedy lender with no sympathy to others, which symbolizes capitalist and rationalist values, into the embodiment of Christianity and humanism. The contrast between Dickens’s characters furthers strengthens the differences between two ideologies, the humanistic and the capitalist one. The family of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s clerk, is a model of a loving family, poor in money but rich in heart, while Scrooge himself reflects utilitarian, purely rationalist values. The values of family loyalty, humanism, kindness, are confronted with the rationalism and greediness of the protagonist.
Another theme of the novella is the relationship between the supernatural and the living. As stated above, Dickens’s works have significantly contributed to the development of the Victorian ghost story. His fascination with the supernatural makes him create the powerful figures of the Ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future, who communicate with the protagonist and act as the messengers of the divine. This communication between the living and the supernatural is central to the plot. This theme reoccurs in Dickens’s works, for instance, in “The Signalman,” although in total, it is present in about 18 Dickens’s stories. The critical result of the supernatural intervention is that it leads to change and transforms the protagonist.
Although often presented as a children’s story, Dickens’s novella A Christmas Carol tells a reader a lot about Dickens’s attitudes and views about the world. This novella promotes the humanistic ideology based on Christian values: love, empathy, and generosity. Moreover, the author experiments with literary forms and contributes to the development of the ghost story. The supernatural plays a central role in the transformation of the main hero. However, the idea that the protagonist needs supernatural intervention in order to change might be problematic for the humanistic perspective that is centered on the agency of human beings. The humanistic perspective stresses the inherently good qualities of human nature, which is contradictory to the idea that supernatural intervention is necessary in order to bring change.
Newey, Vincent. 2016. The Scriptures of Charles Dickens: Novels of Ideology, Novels of the Self. New York: Routledge.
Robinson, David E. 2016. “Redemption and the Imagination of Childhood: Dickens’s Representation of Children in A Christmas Carol.” Literator 37 (1): 1-8. doi:10.4102/lit. v37i1.1307
Thompson, Terry W. 2017. “The Belshazzar Allusion in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.” The Explicator 75 (4): 268-270. doi:10.1080/00144940.2017.1389683
Wood, Claire. 2018. “Playful Spirits: Charles Dickens and the Ghost Story.” In The Routledge Handbook to the Ghost Story, edited by Scott Brewster and Luke Thurston, 87-96. New York: Routledge.
Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations Literature Analysis Essay (Movie Review)
It is a very well-known fact that by the time they get to the end of their novel, many writers start to have second thoughts about how to conclude it. The history of literature is filled with examples where critics found alternative endings to famous novels. This essay analyzes the two alternative endings for the novel Great Expectations and argues that the initial one was both more aesthetically appealing and philosophically profound.
The events leading up to the final scene in the film and in the novel with the initial ending are the same. In both cases Pip, or Finn as he is called in the film, ends up without his wealth while Estella is divorced and has lead an unhappy life. However, the very ends of the two versions differ sharply. The ending that Dickens initially intended for the novel is rather gloomy.
The novel was initially supposed to end with the following statement by the narrator, “I was very glad afterwards to have had the interview; for, in her face and in her voice, and in her touch, she gave me the assurance, that suffering had been stronger than Miss Havisham’s teaching, and had given her a heart to understand what my heart used to be” (Dickens and Rosenberg 492). What this sentence reveals is that too much suffering can turn an innocent and loving person into a being incapable of loving in the same way as it can break the arrogance and selfishness of a spoiled one.
The ending in the film is rather different. When the final accidental meeting of Estella and Finn takes place, the dynamics between them is apparently positive. One kind statement by Estella is enough to awaken all the love that Finn has been feeling for years. Estella says, “I think about you … a lot lately” (Great Expectations). After that, when she asks him if he would forgive her for everything, Finn simply replies “Don’t you know me at all” (Great Expectations) thereby signaling that his suffering was completely insignificant when compared to his desire to be with her.
When it comes to giving a value judgment about which of the two endings is better, the answer is bound to come either from the aesthetics of the scene or from the philosophical understanding of the nature of love and emotional suffering of the person who answers the question. It seems that the scene that was initially intended for the novel is much better according to both of these criteria. First, aesthetically, the moment at which Finn answers an apparently difficult question such as whether he is willing to forgive Estella in a statement that is so devoid of emotion and second thoughts, the viewer immediately feels betrayed.
The question that comes to mind is whether the kind of suffering that Finn underwent before was real at all when he could pretend as if it never happened and give it no second thought. Secondly, philosophically, the unofficial ending for the novel gives a much more profound and interesting view about the effects of suffering on human beings. Namely, as it has already been hinted at, it seems to suggest that intense emotional suffering can numb down lively human emotions in a person who is sincere and naïve, but in a spoiled person, it can actually awaken those feelings.
In conclusion, the ending that was initially intended for the novel was better than the one that was finally used and presented in the film. The unofficial ending is aesthetically more appealing as there is no dissonance between what the audience would naturally expect and what actually happens. Also, the unofficial version gives a much more profound statement about the effects of suffering on human beings.
Dickens, Charles, and Edgar Rosenberg. Great expectations: authoritative text, backgrounds, contexts, criticism. New York: Norton, 1999. Print.
Great expectations. Dir. Alfonso Cuaron. Perf. Ethan Hawke, Gwynet Paltrow. Art Linson, 1998. Film.
“Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens Research Paper
Oliver Twist is a novel that was written by Charles Dickens and recounts the life of a young orphan faced with lots of hardship in the streets of London. Oliver Twist, born in a poor family living in Mudfog, is orphaned during his birth. Although he survives after the death of the mother, he is forced to lead a life full of hardship following an unexplained disappearance of the father. Forced to live under the care of cruel people who are keen on inflicting pain on him, he learns to endure the cruelty of the world.
He finds himself is a gang of young pickpockets in the city of London. However, his character stands out as one who cares for others and willing to sacrifice personal benefits for the sake of the friends. This novel can be classified as children’s literature. The major characters used on the novel, the author’s choice of words, the style used in the narration, and even the common jokes are all targeted to children. As Gourlay and Grant (90) explain, this is an archetype narrative where the prophetic characters in Oliver Twist make him unique from other characters in the book.1 This research paper will look at the five elements that make Oliver Twist a prophetic character.
The novel ‘Oliver Twist’ presents the life of a young boy who faces a series of life misfortunes from birth. The fact that the mother died immediately after giving birth to the young Oliver is not enough. He finds himself faced with object poverty, especially after the disappearance of the father. Dickens (7) says, “If he could have known that he was an orphan, left to the tender mercies….”2 This is a demonstration that he was orphaned at a very tender age.
He is forced to live in a children’s farm where life is not easy. The young lad moves from the children’s farm to live with an undertaker. Life does not get any better, especially due to the mistreatments against him by the undertaker’s wife. He then finds himself in the street life, with a gang of pickpockets under the leadership Fagin. However, Oliver’s problem seems not to go away. Inasmuch as Oliver Twist is faced with all the injustices that life can offer to such a young child, he stands out as a morally upright person.
Even when he is forced to engage in pick pocketing, he strikes as a child that is unique among the rest. His ability to understand fellow children, act in their favor, and forego personal benefits does not match the injustices and unfair treatment he has been facing since his birth. This makes him a prophetic character in this novel. The following five areas may help substantiate that Oliver Twist is a prophetic character as presented in this novel.
A Sense of Consciousness that is Different from a Regular Individual
According to Bellett (75), a prophetic character must a sense of consciousness that is different from that of regular individuals.3 Such a character understands what the society considers as ideal, and always tries to ensure that he or she lives by it. The character also makes a conscious effort to ensure that their actions do not offend others, but if it does by mistake, they are quick to apologize because of the desire not to harm others. This is a trait that is seen in Oliver Twist. As a young child living in the streets, Oliver was always ahead of his peers in understanding various factors within the environment. He was keen on uniting the peers towards a common goal for the benefit of all. Even in the instances when he was forced to engage in criminal activities such as robbing, he was always compassionate about issues to do with helping his peers.
Influence Gained Through Nature Not Nurture, and High Morals within the Character
According to Dijk (64), most of the prophetic characters are always influenced by nature, not through nurturing, and they always have high moral standards.4 As mentioned previously, these are characters who were orphaned at a very early age. They learn life through what they experience, what nature presents to them. Nature becomes their teacher in many instances of their lives. However, instead of picking the negative lessons about life from what they get through nature, they uniquely become individuals of high morals, and ability to lead a righteous life. Oliver Twist went through the harsh realities of being a poor orphan.
Dickens (20) says, “And yet he burst into an agony of childish grief as the cottage gate closed after him.”5 He was finally taken in by Mr. Brownlow’s family after being released by the court. In this family, he exhibits high standards of morality and respect to the members of this family. In his entire life, he had been used to hardship and life of scavenging. What this family presented to him was very different from what nature had taught him.
However, he portrays the traits of a gentleman, a sign that he picked the best out of what nature had to offer him. He wins the trust of Mr. Brownlow who sends him for errands that requires payments (Dickens 46).6 Every time he was sent, he would dutifully make the payments and bring back any balances after accounting for everything. In this family, no one had any genuine complains about his character. He was a perfect boy, respectable and respecting in the eyes of Mr. Brownlow.
A Strong Sense of Self Criticism
In many cases, people tend to hurt others or act selfishly because of their inability to criticize themselves. According to Frost (21), self-criticism is very important when it comes to administering justice to others.7 Self-assessment of an action that one plans to take makes it possible to establish the possible outcome it may have on others. Prophetic characters always have a strong sense of self-criticism, especially when making a decision that may have an impact on others. Whenever they realize that they have done or just about to do what is morally wrong, they would criticize such thoughts or actions and make genuine efforts to correct such mistakes.
As shown in this novel, Oliver was always quick to criticize himself whenever he felt that he had done something wrong. He was always mindful of others. His compassionate nature stirred a unique desire in him to avoid doing anything that may be considered immoral in the society. Being a human being, sometimes the desire to act in self interest would overwhelm him. However, his conscience would never allow his an opportunity to do wrong. He would criticize himself for thoughts that he considered being too materialistic. This is seen when he makes a quick decision to share his inheritance with the strange brother who had planned to kill him. He respects Mrs. Sowerberry even though the lady mistreats her. Dickens (66) says, “Oliver lingered no longer, but meekly followed his new mistress.”8 He obeys his mistress.
A Personality that is Compassionate and Understanding towards Others
A prophetic character is compassionate and very understanding towards others. According to Carroll (32), these characters are always keen on ensuring that people around them are not subjected to pain and suffering when they have the capacity to assist in order to overcome the situation.9 Sometimes their sense of compassion is used against them, but this does not stop them from offering assistance to those who need it. Oliver Twist is such a character, a selfless young lad who is keen on making the life of people around him better whenever he has an opportunity. His compassionate and understanding nature to the plight of others is seen when he decides to assist Nancy. Oliver has been released by the cost following his arrest when stealing under the command of Fagin.
Upon his release, he went to stay with the Brownlow’s who cares for him (Carroll 76).10 However, Fagin was keen on ensuring that he is back to his criminal gang, fearing that Oliver could betray him to the authorities, having been part of the gang before. Fagin uses Nancy, who pretends to request for Oliver’s assistance, to trap him and bring him back to the group. So Nancy approaches Oliver, against her own wish, and asks for his help.
As directed by Fagin, she directs her to a hideout where Fagin’s boys can kidnap him and take him back to their master. Oliver knew that those hideouts were dangerous. However, the desire to help Nancy surpassed the need to avoid the dangers posed by these hideouts. Unfortunately for him, he is kidnapped and taken back to Fagin (Watts and House 84).11 What is strange is that fact that he does not hold personal grudge against Nancy, the young girl who lured him back to the gang.
A High Sense of Awareness and Self-Decorum
According to Petersen (42), another important trait of the prophetic characters is the high sense of awareness and self-decorum.12 As Pilcher (31) says, to earn respect, one must start by respecting self. This way, he or she will learn the importance of respecting others.13 Oliver Twist was a man of decorum. His modest behavior earned him respect among many people. The family of Mr. Brownlow loved Oliver because of his modesty.
He respected everyone in the family, irrespective of their age or gender. He knew how important this was as a way of holding the family fabric together. When he was taken in the second time by Rose Maylie’s, a family he was supposed to rob, Ellis and Ravelli (83) says in their analysis, “Oliver demonstrated the same self-decorum that earned him love and admiration in the family.” One may argue that Oliver was modest in these two families because of the benefits he got. However, an analysis of this book demonstrates he was modest throughout his life. Even when he was forced into pick pocketing, he was always conscious of the evil nature of such acts, only that he never had an option. He respected his peers and this explains why Nacy, a friend who once betrayed him, dies trying to defend him.
In the book ‘Oliver Twist’, Oliver comes out as a prophetic character. An orphan forced through difficulties in life at a tender age, grows up to become an honest young man, very understanding and concerned of the well-being of the people around him. He comes out as a prophetic character, an individual who is willing to sacrifice personal benefits for the well-being of others.
Bellett, J G. Short Meditations on the Psalms: Chiefly in Their Prophetic Character. London: A.S. Rouse, 1902. Print.
Carroll, Michael. Quantum Prophecy: The Awakening. New York: Philomel Books, 2007. Print.
Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. Surrey: Nelson, 1998. Print.
Dijk, Teun. Discourse and Literature. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins Pub. Co, 1985. Print.
Ellis, Robert A, and LouiseJ Ravelli. Analysing Academic Writing: Contextualized Frameworks. London: Continuum, 2005. Print.
Frost, Mark. Understanding the Themes in Oliver Twist. New York: Cengage, 2014. Print.
Gourlay, Alexander, and John Grant. Prophetic Character: Essays on William Blake in Honor of John E. Grant. West Cornwall: Locust Hill Press, 2002. Print.
Petersen, David L. The Prophetic Literature: An Introduction. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. Print.
Pilcher, Carmel T. The Prophetic Character of Eucharist. New Jesrsey: Wiley & Sons, 2001. Print.
Watts, James, and Paul House. Forming Prophetic Literature: Essays on Isaiah and the Twelve in Honor of John D.w. Watts. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996. Internet resource.
- Gourlay, Alexander S, and John E. Grant. Prophetic Character: Essays on William Blake in Honor of John E. Grant. West Cornwall, CT: Locust Hill Press, 2002. 90. Print.
- Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. Surrey: Nelson, 1998. 7. Print.
- Bellett, J G. Short Meditations on the Psalms: Chiefly in Their Prophetic Character. London: A.S. Rouse, 1902. 75. Print.
- Dijk, Teun. Discourse and Literature. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins Pub. Co, 1985. Print.
- Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. Surrey: Nelson, 1998. 20. Print.
- Ibid 46.
- Frost, Mark. Understanding the Themes in Oliver Twist. New York: Cengage, 2014. 64. Print.
- Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. Surrey: Nelson, 1998. 20. Print.
- Carroll, Michael. Quantum Prophecy: The Awakening. New York: Philomel Books, 2007.76. Print.
- Carroll, 76.
- Watts, James, and Paul House. Forming Prophetic Literature: Essays on Isaiah and the Twelve in Honor of John D.w. Watts. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996. 84. Print.
- Petersen, David L. The Prophetic Literature: An Introduction. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. Print.
- Pilcher, Carmel T. The Prophetic Character of Eucharist. , 2001. 31. Print.
Loyalty in “Hard Times” by Charles Dickens Essay
Charles Dickens is known for his direct criticism of social problems that were prominent at his time and had an enormous impact on the population. The novel titled “Hard Times” is frequently discussed all over the globe, and can be regarded as a masterpiece. The author observed a lot of issues and did not hesitate to critique them in an attempt to provoke discussions among scholars and politicians. It is clear that many people had to live in inhumane conditions, and some of the beliefs were incredibly questionable. The popularization of philosophical thinking is particularly interesting, and the writer describes severe complications that may occur when one is blindly devoted to such ideas and does not question them. This paper presents a critique of how loyalty is portrayed in the work.
The story is focused on the problems related to the industrial revolution and how it has affected society. Capitalism had fuelled the mistreatment of employees, and nobody had ever thought that there will come a time when all these injustices will be forgotten. Dickens’s novel reveals the struggles that parents, workers, and even children had to go through. They hand to ensure a lot of traumatic events to afford rent. The emergence of philosophical lives is perhaps one of the driving forces of changes that were witnessed during this era. The author describes various forms of loyalties and their prices in shaping the lives of the main characters in the novel.
Mr. Gradgrind, one of the central characters, is committed to ensuring that he raises his children and influences all people around him through a unique philosophical approach. He believed that individuals should analyze facts before making any significant decisions, and it would help them to improve the quality of their lives. However, his philosophy makes life difficult for his children and others. Moreover, he does not have an easy time living with those who oppose his approaches and it causes many disagreements. The author tries to grab the attention of readers with the line that states “you can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them” (Dickens 3). In other words, he did not accept anything else and the level of devotion to these ideas was enormous. Dickens was interested in highlighting how blind loyalty was a weakness even for powerful individuals.
For instance, the author ridicules this blind loyalty to Gradgrind’s philosophy and outlines various ways it has affected the lives of his children and people that surround him. The character expected his daughter Louisa to hide her feelings to the public or even other individuals, and this has led to issues related to interactions and communication patterns. Her father did not allow his children to attend the circus performances since he believed that they would corrupt their minds, and they would be exposed to evil people and other atrocities. Additionally, he did not let them make personal decisions and tried to ensure that they are controlled at every stage in their lives. The novel portrays the failure of Louisa’s father in raising her and blames this inept philosophy for breaking her marriage. She confronts him and condemns his questionable beliefs because they have led to her miseries. Thomas Gradgrind believes that his father’s Utilitarian education made his life miserable, and that is why he later became a bank robber, gambler, and alcoholic.
He blames all these problems on his father and believes that vital development stages were missed during his childhood because of his father’s loyalty to this philosophic approach. Dickens used these two characters to explain how parents make their children’s lives unbearable by insisting that they should follow specified ways of behaving. It is wrong for adults to think that they will raise responsible and successful children by forcing predetermined philosophies down their throats. It is not reasonable to interfere with a child’s decisions when it comes to their beliefs and lifestyle, but parents should always be near their children and guide them in making correct decisions that will guarantee them a successful life. A family’s loyalty should not be unconditional since this will make some of the members suffer. They had the right to disagree with him. However, it was too late, and such parenting had a long-lasting impact on their lives.
Stephen Blackpool, a Bounderby mills worker, is forced to be loyal and remain with his alcoholic wife regardless of the tribulations she puts him through during their marriage. He is committed to providing for his family and works hard to live a better life. Such situations are seen quite often even in modern society, and many do not view divorce as a reasonable choice. He is forced to live with his wife who disappears and re-appears as she wishes. His loyalty is unjustified because he is not valued but he still thinks that the situation may be improved in the future. Furthermore, this explains why unconditional family loyalty can be harmful and can affect a person’s lifestyle and future.
Bounderby’s relation to Bitzer, a bank employee, highlights the conflict of interest that arises when people are driven by capitalism, utilitarianism, and self-interest work together. A former bully is focused primarily on his interests and is not worried about the issues of others. His philosophy and selfishness become essential qualities of this character and define him. “I am not sure that you know that the whole social system is a question of self-interest” is a line that is particularly interesting (Dickens 339). Differently put, he is not afraid of speaking about his intentions and remains calm. Bounderby expected Bitzer to follow his philosophy of not having or following “unmanageable thoughts” but this could not have happened since each of these characters had different perceptions of how to live a successful life. His loyalty to his employer is betrayed when he is offered compensation not to arrest Thomas for robbing his employer’s bank, and he prioritizes benefits over integrity. He is not trustworthy, and it makes it difficult for both parties. Dickens mocks those who make particular philosophies vital parts of their lives without thinking about consequences.
In conclusion, it is quite evident that loyalty is a central topic in the story, and Dickens draws attention to complications that may occur when it is excessive, or one is not sincere. The writer was worried about society and wanted to ensure that the population understands that such behavior is inappropriate. Overall, it is possible to state that he succeeded because the narrative is quite comprehensive and he manages to keep the attention of readers.
Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. London, UK: Bradbury and Evans, 1854. Print.
“Oliver Twist” a Book by Charles Dickens Essay
The first volume of Oliver Twist features one of the most famous Cruikshank’s plates. It depicts a scene from chapter two when Oliver asks for more food. Cruikshank portrays this scene vividly, in a manner that highlights the rebellious nature of Oliver’s action. Oliver is at the center of the picture, skinny and with a plate in his hand, whereas the master looks down at him with a mixture of anger and disbelief. In the background, we see the astonishment on the rest of the boys’ faces and the turmoil caused by Oliver’s plea.
The primary difference between the pictorial and the textual world here is that Dickens provides a somewhat humorous portrayal of the events, something we do not expect after seeing the picture. The author describes Oliver’s action as so bizarre that it attracts the attention of every person in the orphanage. Cruikshank, on the other hand, focuses on Oliver’s misery; he reflects the power that the master has over Oliver by emphasizing their size difference. Thus, Cruikshank represents the reality behind Dickens’ story, removing the humor and irony that are central to Dickens’ narrative.
A similar trend can be observed in chapter twenty-eight when a wounded Oliver is found at the front door of Mrs. Maylie’s house. Cruikshank’s picture depicts Giles, Brittles, and the rest of the servants opening the front door and seeing weak Oliver sitting on the porch. In the pictorial world, their figures look large and threatening compared to Oliver, who is skinny and small, so we expect to see a similar portrayal of characters in the text. Dickens, however, reveals the irony behind their aggressive appearance: “By the advice of Mr. Giles, they all talked very loud, to warn any evil-disposed person outside that they were strong in numbers […] the dogs’ tails were well pinched in the hall to make them bark savagely”. Dickens, therefore, provides us with an objective portrayal of the event, whereas Cruikshank concentrates on Oliver’s point of view to emphasize the threat.
Pip and Joe in “Great Expectations” by Dickens Essay
Pip is a short name for Phillip. The name stuck to him after he was unable to pronounce his name properly. He could say Pip only. He was an orphan brought up by his sister and her husband. Joe, on the other hand, was a blacksmith who married Pip’s sister. He is good looking and mature. “He was an easy going, foolish, sweet tempered, mild, good natured dear fellow…” (Dickens 7), Pip thought. Pip and Joe were similar in characters yet have different personalities. Charles Dickens uses Pip’s and Joe’s differences in character to communicate his message to the reader through their experiences and virtues.
Joe enjoyed great freedom and inner self-worth that Pip had never experienced up to the closing stages of the novel. For instance, when Joe paid a visit to Pip in London, Pip set up a dismal situation. Joe declared with dignity, “Pip, dear chap, life entails so many things combined which calls for people’s attention in an appropriate manner.” Joe was not similar to Pip since he lacked false constraints of social barriers.
Pip ‘s character is significant in the novel; he also plays a leading role and his actions craft the plot of the novel. His thoughts and attitudes shape the mind of the reader. Developing and understanding Pip’s character was the most profound step in Great expectation. Joe was honest and simple blacksmith who lived in the marshes.
Pip’s principal traits of character were a result if his undeveloped, romantic idealism and his intrinsically first-class scruples. Pip’s focus was to perk up and realize any encroachment in ethics, education, and social matters. Joe was a blacksmith; and they thus differed in thinking which made Pip leave for London to become a gentleman.
Joe was always kind and trusted person. Pip admired Joe’s character as a boy. They stayed apart for a long time before seeing each other. This may be associated with their differences in characters. When Pip fell ill, Joe nursed him and covered all his debts. While, on the other hand, Pip left Joe in the rear in quest for Estella, totally ignoring the last.
Joe was concerned and caring. When Joe saw that Pip was not participating in their normal competition, he got worried and exclaimed loudly. Joe told Pip to hide behind the door when he realized that Mrs. Joe was coming to punish him. Pip went out to the churchyard making his sister worried about him. She then went out to look for her with a cane, Tickle. He also passes Pip to the chimney in an attempt to cover him with his leg so he would not receive more beatings from Mrs. Joe. Most times when there was gravy, Joe would add some pints to Pip’s plate.
They began to see each other as equals due to the sufferings they experienced together as cited from the book, where it is said “Joe and I being fellow sufferers and having confidences as such, Joe imparted a confidence to me…” (Dickens 9). Mrs. Joe gave them similar shares of loaves showing that she took them as equals. Later, they competed biting for their slices (Dickens 9). Pip “always treated Joe as a huge species of child and no more than my equal” (Dickens 8). He also referred to Mr. Pumblechook, Joe’s uncle, as his own uncle. This shows how people in similar circumstances may end up uniting despite their differences in characters.
Pip was reserved. He feared the old convict. He got threatened that if he did not take food, his heart and liver would be eaten. He ate his loaf and stole more food and kept it to give it to the old man. He got uneasy after stealing foodstuffs from the sister’s house (Dickens 13). He thought everyone knew about his theft. He even said to an ox, “I could not help it, sir! It was not for myself I took it!” (Dickens 12). Joe, on the other hand, was the husband to Mrs. Joe, yet he received her intimidation. Joe was not able to hide his fears; he even asked if he could take Pip with him as they accompanied the soldiers in pursuit of the convicts.
Pip and Joe shared a deep friendship and helped each other where they could. However, their friendship could be one of the outcomes of their differences. Pip felt guilty that he stole Joe’s food from the house. However, he was afraid to tell the truth since he feared losing Joe as his friend and companion. He admitted that he had acted as a coward for not doing the right thing (Dickens 32). Despite getting tired, Joe carried Pip on his back most the time when they were pursuing the convict. Pip was also willing to help Joe in his own way to improve his reading after he had realized that Joe’s reading was at the infant stage (Dickens 35). These show their special bond and comfort they felt while being around each other.
Joe and Pip had different experiences in life. Joe had parents who were constantly arguing during his childhood. He missed school due to these problems, started blacksmith work and married Mrs. Joe, who attacked and treated him harshly. Pip, on the other hand, was an orphan who stayed in his sister’s house, received good opportunities for education but failed in wooing Estella. When he repented and decided to marry Biddy, he found her already married to Joe.
Joe was faithful to Pip while Pip stole from him and neglected him as he strived to win Estella’s love. Joe, on the other hand, covered Pip’s debts although he left for London to be a gentleman forsaking him. He went to London to nurse Pip who was ill and eventually forgave him. This shows his good nature and true friendship towards Pip.
Their views and reasoning are different from each other. Joe shared with Pip the reasons why he had not acquired education when he had been young. He told him how his dad got drunk and then caused their mother’s fight. Their mother escaped with them to another place and worked hard to take them to school. Their dad followed them and caused a scandal in public. That made the owners of the place where they were living in give them up to their father. (Dickens 36) This disrupted Joe’s learning process. When Joe thought that his father had done such things out of love for them, Pip differed in opinion. He did not express his opposite opinion to Joe.
Pip was drowning in debt despite having much money from Abel Magwitch. Joe had been more rational in managing his finances despite being a simple blacksmith. He even acquired enough money to offset Pip’s huge debts.
Pip was able to travel widely and experience a more liberal lifestyle in an attempt to meet all his ambitions while Joe did not. Joe was comfortable with his life and settled as a blacksmith. Pip was also quick tempered. He knocked the wall in anger after he was unable to reveal his anger. He preferred to keep them to himself and only hit the wall. In contrast to Joe, he was calm, collected and indifferent towards his problems. He accepted them without questioning or seeking redress.
Dickens used Pip and Joe in his novel as a way to relay messages to the readers of the novel. He hoped that, from the virtues of Joe and Pip, readers would understand his intended message.
Being good to all people is a virtue that should be valued. Pip helped the old convict and felt apologetic that he got arrested again. He took him food without knowing him as they were total strangers and had never met before. The old man later named him as a benefactor to a large sum of his money. Pip got rewarded for his selfless action of agreeing to take some food to the old man. Joe was a faithful friend to Pip. Even after being abandoned by Pip, he nursed him and paid his debts off. He displayed a notion that one should be with his/her friends through thick and thin. Pip did not shy away from apologizing to Joe and even set to Egypt to work hard and pay for Joe.
Joe was married to a wife who ruled over him and looked down upon him. However, he was good, patient and always obliged to her instructions without dispute. It was unfortunate that Mrs. Joe was attacked when Joe and Pip were away and far from the house. Joe was eventually able to remarry again and settle down.
Optimism is a virtue. Joe thought his dad cared for them. He thought so because his dad always tracked them down and made a row demanding them to return to him even though he was a drunkard. Optimism helped him to accept his illiteracy without blaming either of his parents. Optimism helps one see the bright side of everything and be at peace with each oneself and the others.
Too much ambition can mislead an individual. Pip was overcome by ambition. He had celebrated expectations. This made him forget his faithful friends in pursuit of his own interests when attracted by Estella. He also began overspending since he did not accept his social class. This eventually accrued to an immense debt. This shows that one should live within one’s means.
Joe and Pip were friends, companions and business partners when Pip worked for Joe as an apprentice. They were from different backgrounds, with different physical characteristics and behavior. They lived through many events, good and bad as described in the novel. These differences made them part for a long time as Pip moved to London while Joe was left in the marshes. They were eventually able to show that helping others, working hard, being ready to apologize and correcting one’s mistakes are real virtues.
Dickens, Charles. Great expectations. London, England: Penguin, 1996. Print.
“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens Essay
The extract of this paper’s focus was taken from Charles Dickens’ work, the ‘Great Expectations’, specifically Chapter 27 (Landow). In this extract we see Joe talking to Pip, it is a one-directional talk in which Joe does all the talking while Pip does the listening. Even without knowing the immediate context of this one-dimensional conversation, as portrayed in this extract, one can already sense that something is wrong. It is not every day that two people having a conversation allows someone to go on for so long talking without any interruption. But more than that, a possible underlying tension is reflected in Joe’s words. These words reveal an internal conflict within him, and as such the conflict between him and the listener, Pip. The talk also exposes a kind of awkwardness and strain between the two, and the way that Joe leaves at the end of his speech promises a no-end to that said conflict. It is of utmost importance to understand the context of this extract. That is, the story and accompanying circumstances that led to this point; this will be our focus in this paper.
The first half of ‘Great Expectations’ is the story of Pip living with his bad-spirited sister, his friendship with Joe (his sister’s husband), and his growing dissatisfaction with his place and plight in that household. Although, as a child, he looked up to Joe, whom he presents as a protector and a friend to him, the relationship as defined by the life around him gradually turns sour, from one of love to that of intolerance.
This context is years down the line; Pip having become wealthy moved to London. Unfortunately, he can’t reconcile his present affluence with the struggles of the working class, his origin. And so when Joe visits him, Pip comes face-to-face with these two sides of him. He fears Joe does not approve of the affluence of his present lifestyle, at the same time he fears Drummle thinks less of him for associating with Joe. Throughout the visit, the meeting between the two is awkward and strained. The way Pip acts and talks makes Joe very uncomfortable. Joe becomes conscious of Pip’s behavior and reads from it that they belong to two different social classes. He understands the discomfort as the conflict involved in attempting to reconcile two different social classes. He accepts his world and the fact that it has no place in Pip’s world, so he leaves prematurely.
This particular context reveals how the relationship between Joe and Pip is growing further apart. Joe admits the reality of their two social classes and accepts the fact that it is the reason for their division which cannot be reconciled.
In this context, there are several themes that Dickens explores, but before looking at these themes, it is important to assess and evaluate the characters involved and the vessels through which Dickens speaks of the aspects of the world he creates in ‘Great expectations’.
Pip is the narrator in this context; he is telling the story of his encounter with Joe, an old friend, at a particular point in time (Landow). Pip narrates this story in two different tenses. There’s the present tense of Joe’s words, in other words, he is quoting Joe. Then there’s the past tense of Pip’s narration placing this encounter in the past; in other words, we are interacting with two ‘Pips’. The first Pip is the one being addressed by Joe. He is the one who, after Joe leaves, goes after him only to find Joe gone. The second Pip is telling us about the first Pip, and how he ran after Joe. In other words, Pips is telling us about his past since he acts both roles as the narrator and the character in his own story.
These two ‘Pips’ reveal two sides of him; the first one gets Joe into saying the things he says. The other is the remorseful one who runs after Joe, as in the rest of the story, Pip is two people in one. He is cruel, on one hand, and remorseful and kind, on the other. He is divided between how one in his position (wealthy) ‘should’ act and how he wishes to act; in other words, he is fake, unreal.
Joe, on the other hand, is unpretentious; his words are clear and straight to the point. All along during the visit, he has felt out of place, thanks to Pip’s reception of him and his behavior. Joe has realized how irreconcilable their worlds are and accepts their natural divisions in life. He uses the simple metaphor of metal smiting to explain his understanding and acceptance of such divisions. While some men, he says, are blacksmiths (such as himself), others such as Pip are goldsmiths (Landow). By doing this, Joe is absolving Pip of any blame for the divisions that exist between them now. He is only admitting the fact that such divisions are unalterable.
He does not mince his words to please Pip, but neither is he out to hurt Pip. Instead, Joe feels he must speak of what he has witnessed; he must set Pip free from his conflict by leaving so that Pip only has his wealth and affluent lifestyle to worry about.
Now back to the themes. Through these two characters presented in this context, Dickens addresses certain social issues that this story was based on. Although the story is set in a period much earlier than 1890, when its serialization began, there are traces of it that seem to be influenced by the England of the 1890s. For instance, the story was created against a backdrop of Victorian England, and as such, it contains traces of social realism. Some of this is reflected within the small context of this analysis. These include:
Social Class; the awkwardness and underlying conflict and strain between Pip and Joe, as revealed in the story represent the uncertain or troubled relations between different social classes. Pip is wealthy, Joe is not, but Joe is part of Pip’s past. Unfortunately, Pip cannot reconcile that humble past with his present affluence. Still, he is not willing to admit it; to himself or Joe. Instead, he keeps struggling to make that shaky relation work.
Joe comes to his rescue and likens their social distinction to the different levels of metal smiting. In this likening, Joe is trying to say that these divisions do exist and cannot be escaped. But more importantly, he feels no one is to blame for them as it is just the natural way of things.
Dickens is arguing that different social classes cannot live in peace at the same place and time. But this social barrier, he seems to say, is not real; it is only a creation of the mind. Pip is only uncomfortable with Joe because of Drummer and the fact that he runs after Joe shows that he isn’t against relating with Joe. The different ways in which Pip and Joe respond to the situation reveals yet another theme, freedom.
Freedom; Pip is not free with himself, with who he is, which includes his past and present. Joe on the other hand is free from the social constraints from which Pip suffers. Joe possesses within himself great freedom and self-esteem. He is not even afraid to speak his mind to Pip.
Isolation; Pip’s lack of freedom is his Isolation. He is a child of two worlds: poverty and wealth. Unfortunately, he struggles to reconcile both by attempting to please all of them; in the end, he fails, and in that failure lays his isolation. He still has a connection with his past, but the social barrier erected by his present stops him from it. He is guilty for it as much as he feels obliged to act according to his class. Ultimately, deep down he belongs in neither world and therefore remains isolated and lonely in the ground in between. But it’s not only through the characters that Dickens manages to push his story forward and explore his themes. He also does this through other literary devices such as motifs and symbols.
By comparing characters with inanimate objects, Joe likens the social classes to the different types of metals that various metalsmiths use in their businesses: “one man’s a blacksmith, and one’s a whitesmith, and one’s a goldsmith, and one’s a coppersmith; divisions among such must come, and have to be met as they come” (Landow). This is a reflection of Joe’s understanding of the relations of different social classes.
Also, Joe tells Pip “you shall never see me in these clothes” (Landow). ‘Clothes’ here has been used as a symbol of social class. While Pip’s clothes may be grand, reflecting his social class, Joe’s clothes, which also reflect his blacksmithing life, have no place in Pip’s environment. Having differentiated his world against Pip’s, and accepting that those worlds cannot relate, Joe now offers never to be seen in the ‘clothes’ again (Landow). This, as already discussed above, does not mean that he is going to change his dressing; it only means that he is going to stick with his world and leave Pip alone in his other world.
At this point, one is almost bound to feel sorry for Joe. Joe speaks without fear or favor for Pip; he says it as he sees it. He exudes the feeling that he knows what he is talking about, he is decided and does not feel sorry for himself; he has simply made a choice. Between him and Pip, it is the latter that one is likely to feel sorry for because despite all his wealth and high social class he seems confused. He is undecided and seems to be caught in a place he doesn’t want to be. By running after Joe, Pip exposes his sorry position.
In the end, Joe is a proud, smart poor man who knows himself well and doesn’t need anybody’s sympathy. But Pip is a confused rich man who doesn’t understand himself and his relation to others. He keeps slipping from one character to the other and begs for sympathy from whoever can offer it.
Landow, George. “Charles Dickens: Great Expectations.” 2010. Web.
London’s Consumer Culture in Dickens’ “Our Mutual Friend” Essay
London’s Consumer Culture
The UK has experienced various riots in its history. In the 1970s through 1980s, when the GDP was much less compared to now, riots were based on complaints such as education opportunities, the need for increased policing, and even concerns about the availability of job opportunities. However, the 2011 riots in the UK took a different approach. They were based on wants such as excitement, new TV channels, or even new mobile phones.
While it is not bad to desire new things, the riots were an indication of obsessions with wants dominating London’s consumer culture. This situation culminates in relentless efforts to satisfy or seal a hole in one’s lifestyle. Surprisingly, this outcome can never happen. When one need is satisfied, a quest to gratify another one emerges. Nevertheless, this gratification characterizes London’s consumer culture. All the time, people want something that delivers a better experience or utility compared to what they currently own.
Technologically perceptive individuals and a service-oriented economy dominate the 20th-century urban centers in London. They have replaced the traditional agricultural production-based society in London. Assadourian is concerned about these changes claiming that although they may seem beneficial, they have irreversible problems that hinder environmental sustainability (5). He sees the failure of people to save the environment from collapsing as related to culture and not to their stupidity, destructiveness, or ignorance (Assadourian 3).
He gives colorful illustrations of people of consumer culture potentially deprived of their habitual lifestyle: According to him, it is as if they were asked to stop breathing forever. This analogy explains the difficulties encountered in telling people to curb their consumerism in a bid to foster environmental protection and conservation (Assadourian 3).
In the light of Assadourian’s argument concerning the innateness of consumerism in human beings, culture defines norms and values in a society, which are hard to smash when they become normalized (4). Owning big houses, several cars, air conditioners, and other equipment constitutes the norm for London’s consumerism culture. Arguably, this tendency is not likely to grow down since it is now rapidly becoming a global culture. Assadourian criticizes this emerging culture claiming that although it appears natural to many people, it is not only difficult to sustain but also not an accurate manifestation of the nature of people (3).
He maintains that the escalated consumption pattern does not increase the wellbeing of people (Assadourian 9). When a new culture emerges, the existing cultural values are eroded. Assadourian criticizes consumerism claiming that it has created the belief that the possession of more wealth coupled with material capability defines good life (10). However, this perception defines London’s consumerism.
London consumer markets are dominated by the influx of manufactured goods, including food products. For instance, amid the emerging criticism on fast food consumer culture in terms of how such foods are associated with health challenges such as obesity and hypertension, the culture constitutes a modern London’s mainstream (Water 62). This culture is sustained through immense waste release into the environment. The waste mainly comes from leftovers, food wrappings, and green gas emissions when transporting foods to manufacturing centers and their subsequent distribution. Fast-food stores equally generate wastes.
Hence, London’s consumerism, which is becoming a global culture, is not sustainable. Arguably, the problem of London’s current consumerism rests on the definition of a good life. One of the major issues that need harmonization is the effort to minimize excess consumption.
Depiction of London’s Consumer Culture in Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
Our Mutual Friend is a novel that was authored by Charles Dickens from 1864 to 1865. The novel comprises sophisticated social and psychological analysis of various life issues (Hawes 56). A major theme in the novel is money, including what it can purchase. Throughout the novel, money is central to ensuring good life by increasing an individual’s consumerism. For example, in the opening chapters of the novel, the body of John Harmon is discovered in the Thames (Dickens 35).
The young man has just come back to London for his inheritance. Sadly, all the money goes to Boffins, a working-class man. The importance of money is felt throughout the society of London (Hawes 31). To this extent, the working class is depicted as obsessed with consumerism. For instance, while the money remained safe in the hands of John Harmon’s father when it changed hand, Boffins spent it in the way that everyone felt the presence of consumerism in the society.
Characters obsessed with consumerism are negatively depicted in the novel. They are always too tempted to let go of an opportunity for extracting money in any possible way. Predation is commonplace in London. Indeed, various chapters refer to ‘birds of prey’. Silas and Rogue among other characters are always tempted to extract money without honor. The opening scenes of the novel depict Hexam bending over a boat similar to a vulture searching dead bodies.
He robs these bodies before he hands them over to concerned authorities. This situation depicts consumerism in London as ridiculous to the extent that characters can look for all ways of acquiring money, including from the dead, to fund their culture. Where high consumerism among the working class is not explicitly depicted, the character must be faking it to acquire wealth. For example, Boffins pretends to be a miser to instruct “Bella Wilfer on the perils of materialism and greed” (Glavin 213). The motive is to acquire money to support the high consumerism that characterizes London’s working class.
Harmon Fortune is situated on dust heaps and the river. This implies a repetitive motif of death followed by decay. Nevertheless, the heaps and the river are prime sources of livelihood and wealth, therefore are necessary to support consumerism. Glavin summarizes this relationship asserting, “If the river is the liquid sewer of London, the dust-heap is the dry one, and the two together provide food and drink for the majority of the characters in the novel” (215). Indeed, the extent to which the people of London can go to acquire money to fund their consumerism is enormous. Throughout the novel, money serves as the main character. It is necessary for a ‘good life.’
Assadourian, Erik. State of the World: Transforming Cultures from Consumerism to Sustainability, W.W Norton: The World Watch Institute, 2010. Print.
Dickens, Charles. Our Mutual Friend, Irvine, CA: Xist Publishing, 2016. Print.
Glavin, John. Dickens on Screen, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print.
Hawes, Donald. Who’s Who in Dickens, London: Routledge, 1998. Print.
Water, Timothy. “Critical moments for obesity: The call for nurses and communities to assess and intervene.” Contemporary Nurse: A Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession 40.1 (2011): 60-70. Print.