Plan: Realism in Great Expectations and Robinson Crusoe
‘Realism falls short of reality. It shrinks it, attenuates it, falsifies it.’ (Eugène Ionesco) Discuss the relation between realist literature and the world it represents. Actual Quote “Realism falls short of reality. It shrinks it, attenuates it, falsifies it; it does not take into account our basic truths and our fundamental obsessions: love, death, astonishment. It presents man in a reduced and estranged perspective. Truth is in our dreams, in the imagination.” Start by talking about realism and realist literature.
Realism began in the 19th century? My interpretation of the question.
Explain that the essay will respond to the quote with reference to Robinson Crusoe and Great Expectations. I will study how the texts attempt to construct reality with issues such as gender and race but do both have problematic features that support the argument raised by Ionesco. Realism began in the 19th century? Defoe seen as the father of realism Insert and analyse quotes where possible and respond to critics/opinions.
Realism in Robinson Crusoe
‘The editor believes the thing to be a just history of fact; neither is there any appearance of fiction in it.’ (Preface to Robinson Crusoe)
‘Given its accumulation of ‘realistic’ descriptions and detail, its capacity to name and map out time and space as if it mirrored reality, realist fiction emerged as part of a culture obsessed with the truths and realities of an increasingly scientific and secular world’ (Sean Purchase, Key Concepts in Victorian Literature (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 185)
‘According to Marxist critics, for example, realist Victorian fiction… embodies middle-class ideologies and values, so that the very discourse of “realism” it provides is really a middle-class adaptation of reality from the outset’ (Purchase, p. 186)
In The Rise of the Novel, Ian Watt identified the following elements as characteristic of the early novel:
A concern to account for probability; a concern to tell you who, what, why, where and when. Watt describes reading a novel as like listening to evidence in a court of law. Specific, recognisable and often present-day settings.
Mixed characters, characters who change over time.
Celebration of private, domestic (rather than public, heroic) virtues. Plain language. (Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel, London: Chatto & Windus, 1957)
Locate evidence of each of the above in Robinson Crusoe. You might wish to focus on the opening three pages of the novel but feel free to look at any section.
Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” began the literary genre of realistic fiction. The aspects of his writing that define “realism” would be the immense detail he uses; descriptive language; and the flow of his narrative (dialect included). Defoe concentrates on the qualities of different objects, which provide us with a picture to accompany the words. His first clay pot, the crude fashion of his garments, and the grindstone are a few of the things we can almost touch when reading. Defoe not only introduced this genre, but I believe that in many ways he is still the master. daniel defoe expresses his work in realism via :
– first person narrator.
– using specific dates .
– using real places
– using details
Unrealistic Rob Cru
Although we do not think too highly of the literary experience of the average 18th century reader, even he would remain sceptical after taking the author at his word. Defoe’s solution to this problem is most original: Fact is his strategy, and triviality his weapon. Of course, this technique of describing as many trivial events as possible to make the story seem more realistic, has (again) become a common aspect of almost every novel to date. In almost 400 years, we have gone from one extreme to another: From a time when it was revolutionary to introduce this formula in literature, to a time where it would be almost revolutionary not to.
It may seem as if I am saying I am strongly inclined to believe that Robinson Crusoe is both a terrific book and a novel which set a new standard for literature in its time. This is true. However, I am not oblivious to some of the weaker points of the book. My foremost criticism is this; Robinson Crusoe is not a real person. He is a character, faintly disguised as a person. At first we are fooled, for all that happens seems realistic enough, but as soon as Robinson is marooned on the island, the illusion is fading. His way of living, his sudden belief, his entire way of looking at the world suggests that someone indeed did make this up. Partly, this has to do with the environment.
When Defoe decided to write a more realistic novel than was usual at the time, he could have done better that to opt for an uninhabitated island. It is very difficult to make a character seem more realistic when he is completely alone. It is very hard to describe in detail solitude on such a large scale of time and still remain true to realism. Solitude may be something we have all experienced at one time or other, but Robinson’s long time completely devoid of any human contact whatsoever and his logical despair is incredibly hard to describe convincingly.
Realism in Great Expectations
Get presentation made in seminar real and unrealistic GE:
TOPIC FOUR: Genre: Realism and sensationalism
In what ways might we think of this as a realistic fiction i.e. as a fiction that represents the experience of living in the world (of materiality)? What specific features make this a ‘condition of England’ novel (if any)? You should come prepared to define this term. In what ways is this an unrealistic text? You should think about the characterisation; the plot resolutions; the theatricality of some of the scenes and events; the style in which some parts of the narrative are delivered. Find at least three examples to discuss. In considering the above, you might wish to comment on the serialised form of the original publication. Is it melodramatic? Episodic? To what extent do you feel that the more melodramatic or sensationalists aspects of the text undermine its social comment (if at all)?
Realism was developed by the middle of the 19th century as a response to the idealistic world of romanticism which had dominated for the past half century. It was an aesthetic movement which attempted to hold up a mirror to its society to show a true reflection of reality. Although claiming to offer a slice of life by emphasizing chiefly in the importance of the ordinary amongst the middle and lower classes, realism is a relative concept, a representation of reality which adheres to a loose collection of conventions. Many of these are offered in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, which follows the life and struggles of the protagonist and narrator, Pip. Dickens uses techniques such as a chronological linear narrative, an omniscient narrator, the celebration of the ordinary, and the resolution of the enigma to drive the moral undercurrents of Pip’s everyday existence. This constructed realism is essentially a representation of reality based on Dickens ideology, offering social commentary and reflecting the values and attitudes of nineteenth century England.
The basic structure of Great Expectations follows a chronological development of Pip’s life; from his childhood innocence, to his disillusioned expectations, finally his rejection of the high life and a circular succession ending back at the beginning. This chronological structure of which Dickens narrates exemplifies Pip’s learning process through his moral and emotional turmoil and complies with the opportunity to generate a realistic setting. For example, Pip’s description of London, “a most dismal place; the skylight eccentrically patched like a broken head, and the distorted adjoining houses looking as if they had twisted themselves to peep down at me through it,” creates an archaeologically realistic description of London, and hints a sense of foreboding, foreshadowing the futility of Pip’s expectations. This ideology developed through Pips learning process is created through a… Great Expectations a novel by Charles Dickens takes reader on an epic adventure filled with unexpected encounters with a myriad of people with vastly different backgrounds that ultimately shape Pip into the man that he becomes. Pip moves from the social class that he was born to, to one that he is elevated to by an anonymous benefactor.
The two people that typify the conventional expectations of romanticism and realism are Pip the protagonist and Joe Gargery the humble blacksmith. Joe clearly shows his love for Pip the entire way through the book, a love that is only acknowledged or valued until the closing pages of the book. We will look at Pip’s journey from extravagance and utter self indulgence to his ultimate enlightenment and self fulfillment. Great Expectations is narrated by an older mature Phillip Pirrip or Pip and is his reflections and recollections of his childhood through his emerging expectation, to adulthood, often seen to make fun of his younger self. Pip was reared by hand by his older malevolent sister and her meek and submissive husband Joe Gargery, after the death of his parents.
The protagonist always refers to his sister as Mrs Joe, showing the reader how domineering and heavy handed she is towards not only Pip but her husband Joe. She affords little compassion or kindness to either male and you start to see the difference between the characters and their reactions to her in relation to the conventions of romance and realism. Joe lending himself to looking at life through the eyes of a realist satisfied knowing his place, where as Pip being more romantic, dreams of escape and leaving the marches for a better life. Pip was apprenticed to his brother-in –law Joe the village blacksmith, when his direction in life was to change by the chance meeting of an escaped convict in the graveyard of his parents.
Mister Pip of Lloyd Jones
The narrator of Mister Pip is Matilda, a young girl growing up on an island in the south Pacific. As the story unfolds it becomes gradually more apparent that this island is in the grip of a brutal war. Matilda is deflected from the impact of the threatening violence by her fascination with Mr. Watts the only white man on the island and the person who has the task of teaching the island’s children. His only text is Great Expectations and he manages to cast a strange spell over the children and their parents using Dickens’s story in various ways.
The book has the quality of a fantasy where the characters achieve moments of liberation through storytelling. The central character Matilda asserts, “stories can help you find happiness and truth.” This belief is borne out as the story unfolds and Matilda triumphs in spite of horrendous suffering.
I found the character of Matilda’s mother to be the most convincing.
She makes an amazing journey from religious fundamentalism to heartbreaking heroism culminating in the perfect climactic line; “I am here as God’s witness.” The whole book is a witness to the power of fiction; Matilda claims that Great Expectations is the “one book that supplied me with another world at a time when it was desperately needed.” As I read it I came to accept that this could be true and that Mister Pip might very well turn out to be a classic piece of fiction that stands the test of time. If there is a flaw it is in the last twenty pages which deal with Matilda’s life outside her island home. The adult Matilda is not as convincing as the child narrator who observes the wonderful and strange things that happen in Mr Watts’ classroom. It is nevertheless a delightful and searing book which might well send you back to Dickens as a kind of bonus.
"Jane Eyre" and "Hard Times" as Bildungsroman Novels
The traditional Bildungsroman novel is autobiographical in form and displays similarities with the author’s own life, mostly with regard to childhood experiences. The novel displays a single individuals growth and development within the context of a defined social order. In most cases the protagonist is orphaned and experiences some form of loss or discontentment in order to spur them away from the family home or setting. The education of the main character is another aspect, which is crucial to their growth and development within the novel.
It states in Todd (1980; 161) 1. that?
‘Ideally Bildungsroman heroes, who continue to pursue their own adolescent ideals and inclinations, are expected to conform eventually to a predetermined identity and become integrated with the society whose values are creating and molding them’.
Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations and described Pips childhood experiences in great detail. It has been argued that most of the child characters Dickens portrayed in his novels resembled that of his own childhood experiences.
Like Pip, Dickens received very little in the way of formal education.
Charlotte Bronte uses many similarities in Jane Eyre that could be argued resemble her own experiences. She too like that of Jane was the daughter of a clergyman and was sent to a school called Norwood, which bares many similarities with that of Lowood. She also became a governess and this suggests that her own experience of a middle class working woman fighting to find a place in Victorian society was used to express her own views of life in that of Jane Eyre.
In Great Expectations, Pip is typical of the main character in a Bildungsroman novel, as he is an orphan. Pip is brought up in a working class environment with his older sister and her husband, Joe Gargery. Pip rejects Joe as a substitute father and looks on him as more of a friend. This is evident in the passage when Joe states?’you and me is always friends’ (12;ch.2) 2. The absence of a father figure for Pip reinforces the need for him to find some sense of identity and belonging in society.
The possibility of a better life becomes apparent to Pip on his first meeting with Estella and Mrs. Haversham at Satis House. It is at this stage in the novel that Pip realises for the first time that he is of a lower social status. It is evident that Pip is aware of his social status when he says ‘I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very different pair’ (60;ch.8) 3.
In Jane Eyre, once again the main character is typical of the Bildungsroman. Jane is an orphan living with her relatives, the Reeds. However she is brought up in a middle class society but is reminded that she is an outcast. Jane’s struggle with her identity and place in society began before she was born, with her mother marrying a poor clergyman, who was considered beneath her by her family.
Jane also experiences conflict within class structures in society. This is evident when the Reeds attempt to bully and suppress Jane at every opportunity they can, reminding her that she has no money that she can rightfully call her own. Jane’s struggle is not only to find a place in society but also to find a place in society as a woman. Jane is aware from an early age that she has no power as a female of her social status, while John Reed is fully aware of his importance as a male. Thus Jane’s educational growth begins when she is unjustly locked in the red room at Gateshead and is sent away to Lowood to be educated. Once again although Jane receives a formal education, she embarks on her own educational growth in life towards maturity and finding an acceptable place in society.
Jane’s struggle and discontentment is evident in the various stages of the novel. Firstly as already stated at Gateshead and again at Lowood, where she was subjected to terrible humiliation and degradation at the hands of the Reverend Brocklehurst. It seems that Bronte was suggesting that all men in society, even holy men, treated woman unjustly. Even Jane’s relationship with Rochester at Thornfield remind Jane that as a middle class woman, who had to earn her own living, she did not fit into conventional society.
Being a governess meant that Jane was educated to the extent of a lady but being paid a salary put her almost at the level of the servants. Even though Jane loves Rochester she is not prepared to become his mistress, as he is already married to Bertha, leaving Jane no alternative but to leave Thornfield to embark on the next stage of her journey within the novel. It is clear that she was searching for her own identity when she states to Rochester?
‘I tell you I must go?Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think that I am an automaton? ?a machine without feelings? And can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong’ (252;ch 23) 4.
Whilst at Moor House, Jane’s relationship with St John Rivers, once again reminds Jane of her status within society. She is not in love with St John and he is not with her but he still tries to repress Jane by expecting her to marry him and accompany him as a missionary’s wife to Africa. Jane is not prepared to marry him and is well aware of the implications if she is to go away with him, as a friend. Although Jane struggles to find her rightful place in society she always believes that she is equal to those around her.
Pip’s education begins not in the formal sense of the word but within his own personal growth. He feels sure that if he were to become a gentleman, it would make him a better person and he would better himself within society. His ultimate goal is to become a gentleman and win Estella’s love. It is this desire that makes Pip unhappy with his life at the forge and the prospect of becoming a mere blacksmith.
Pip’s education was very limited and although he was sent to evening school whilst he apprenticed to Joe, he learnt more in terms of a formal education from Biddy. He states?’At last I began, in a purblind groping way, to read, write and cipher’ (44;ch7) 5.
Pip’s education is again typical of the Bildungsroman in that he is unassisted and self-educated. His desire to leave the forge is fulfilled when he is visited by Mr. Jaggers, who tells Pip of his inheritance and the mysterious benefactor, whom Pip believes is Miss Haversham. This becomes evident in the novel when Pip states?’Miss Haversham was going to make my fortune on a grand scale’ (138;ch18) 6.
This change from poor working class to a rich gentleman is once again typical of the Bildungsroman but not in the traditional sense. Usually a man has to work to earn his money and become a gentleman, which is contrary to the way that Pip has earned his fortune. Pip’s inheritance changes Pip from a likeable innocent character into one that desires unrealistic expectations for his life. Due to his good fortune, Pip now looks down on his family as beneath him and considers Joe to be common and uneducated. This is evident when he tells Biddy that Joe? ‘Is rather backward in some things. For instance in his learning and his manners’. (148;ch19) 7.
Jane’s material wealth is once again inherited but this is in the final stages of her development as a character within the novel. This is where the similarities end between Jane and Pip, concerning money. Jane is fully aware of the value of money since she has had to work to provide for herself. By inheriting she manages to secure her rightful place in society. Pip however does not know the true value of money and thinks that it is the answer to all his problems. His snobbery becomes evident when he realises that his true benefactor is Magwitch, the convict, who he encounters in the first stage of the novel. On realising this fact he is disgusted that his benefactor is a murderer, a twist in the novel, which seems to teach Pip a lesson about gentleman in society. Pip realises that money does not make you a gentleman and real gentleman have qualities, which money cannot buy.
Once again as seen with Jane Eyre, Pip leaves his home to embark on a journey of education, leaving the forge, which is situated, on the marshes, near the Thames for London. Again this conforms to the typical Bildungsroman novel, where the main character will embark on a journey, usually leaving a small provincial town for the big city, in order to find his trade or occupation. Often this will be a disappointing experience, where hopes and dreams are shattered and a realisation of what they had left behind them was not so bad. Although with Pip he does not work when he gets to London, Jane has to work as a governess in order to survive.
It is in London that Pip embarks on the next stage of his educational growth, in order to find his real self. Pip squanders his money socialising in order to establish himself as a gentleman but by doing this he only succeeds in getting himself and his roommate, Herbert Pocket into serious financial difficulty. Pip feels sure that Mrs. Haversham intends him to marry Estella and the realisation that this is not so, does not enter Pip’s head until his encounter with Magwitch in London. Pip states?’Miss Haversham’s intentions towards me, all a mere dream; Estella not designed for me; I only suffered in Satis House as a convenience.’ (323;ch39) 8.
Once again the similarity with Jane becomes apparent in that Pip experiences disappointment in matters of love. This conforms to the Bildungsroman, where the individual will encounter love affairs or sexual encounters within their educational journey, which are disastrous.
In the final stages of the novel there is usually, according to the traditional Bildungsroman, a lesson to be learned before the character is fully matured. Pip learns just how wrong he was about what qualities make a true gentleman. This is apparent when he finds out his benefactor is Magwitch, the murderer. Although at first this was a shock for Pip, he realises just how much Magwitch has sacrificed for him by returning to England and risking capture by the police. Pip also feels guilty about the way he has snubbed Joe when he came to see him in London and the fact that he felt ashamed of him. This embarrassment was evident when he stated that?’If I could have kept him away by paying money, I certainly would have paid money’ (218;ch27) 9.
Pip realises the error of his ways and tries to make amends by helping Magwitch escape his captures. He also finds out that Estella is Magwith’s daughter, which is ironic as Estella frowned upon the working classes, only to be the offspring of something far worse, a criminal. Although Magwitch dies, Pip was by his side and gave him comfort in his last hours. After his illness he returns to the forge to Joe and Biddy, penniless since the crown reclaimed his inheritance. He has learnt a valuable lesson and has come full circle by returning to his roots without a penny, fully matured and understanding the real qualities of a gentleman.
Jane also returns to her roots by attending the side of her Aunt Reed at her deathbed, only to find that the Reeds have suffered and lost most of their wealth at the hands of John Reed. John Reed has received his comeuppance and died at an early age. When Jane inherits her Uncle’s money and discovers who her real family are, she returns to Rochester only to find out that he has been maimed in the fire at Thornfield. It seems that Jane has also returned to her past to find happiness with Rochester. She is now a lady and is accepted as Rochester’s wife in society. Jane had to be a woman in her own right in order to be able to conform to society. Although Jane has fought for most of her life against the social order, in the end she does not challenge but upholds the values of society.
Dickens and Bronte both express strong opinions in their novels about Victorian society. Dickens implies through the development of Pip that middle class values were hypocritical. He suggests that moral values such as generosity and kindness were far more important than being rich and powerful. Dickens reinforces this by allowing Pip to become rich and then lose his money. If Dickens had allowed Pip to stay wealthy, then he would not have been able to emphasise his point to the reader.
He also questions moral values through the character of Magwitch. He illustrates that people of low social status are capable of possessing better qualities than that of the rich and powerful, who were considered to be far superior as human beings. By doing this he goes one step further and insinuates that the justice system is corrupt. He does this through the character of Magwitch, who is killed at the hands of the law and possesses the qualities that Dickens promotes.
Bronte suggests that patriarchal society was hypocritical since men preached values that they could not uphold themselves. The rules were made by men and were allowed to be broken by men. Rochester is allowed to take mistresses, which is accepted in society but if had Jane become his mistress, she would have been considered an immoral woman. Brocklehurst expected the patrons of his school to look plain, yet his own wife and children were decked with frills and curls. Bronte suggests that Victorian society promoted values that were one sided and treated women unjustly.
Joe Gargery's Character Analysis
‘…all(Dicken’s characters), no matter how briefly sketched are real.(CLIFFS NOTES P.54).Charles Dickens has the ability to make his characters very close to human, if not human. Charles Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations, is mainly based on a character named Pip who goes from ‘rags’ to ‘riches’. Joe Gargery, Pip’s brother-in-law, lives with Pip and Mrs. Joe in the marsh country. He is a blacksmith who doesn’t make a lot of money but manages to stay a mild and good-natured man.
But what causes Joe to stay so mild and good-natured throughout Pip’s transformation? The truth can only be revealed through studying his relationship to Pip, his importance to the plot, and the theme he best represents.
When Pip’s parents die, his sister decides to bring him up ‘by the hand'(p.559). She has a very hard time with Pip, and in the future says, ‘I’d never do it[bring Pip up] again!'(p.
560). Then she marries Joe Gargery. Joe and Pip form this ‘everlasting’ relationship, mainly because they were both ‘brought up by the hand'(p.559). Joe always looks out for Pip and helps Pip out. Mrs. Joe would never do this. For example, when Pip was coming back from the graveyard after his first encounter with the convict, he find out that Mrs. Joe had gone on a rampage with the tickler only by Joe telling him. When Mrs. Joe returns, she throws Pip at Joe and Joe guards Pip from any harm Mrs. Joe can do.
Though these incidents, Joe develops a steady, everlasting relationship with Pip. When Pip receives word of his expectation, he also found out that in order to get his expectation and become a gentleman, he must go to London. Pip’s reason for wanting to become a gentleman is mainly for Estella. He will do anything to impress Estella and win her heart. Pip knew he had to go if he were ever going to win Estella’s heart. Joe had built up such a strong relationship with Pip that he didn’t want anything to do with the obstruction of Pip’s future. Another reason for Joe loving Pip is when Pip was sick and in debt, Joe went to London and helped Pip. Joe paid his debts(even though he himself had money problems) and stayed at Pip’s bedside every second he was sick. According to Joe, ”…you and me was ever friends.”
(p.706) Joe must love Pip more than anything in the world if he flew to London just to help an ‘old friend’. Pip’s relationship to Joe wasn’t quite as ‘smooth’ as Joe’s relationship to Pip. At the beginning of the novel, Pip and Joe had an equal relationship, the both cared and helped each other. Joe, for example, let Pip know of Mrs. Joe’s rampage and Pip taught Joe to read. So they both had an equal relationship at the beginning. But when Pip received word of his expectation, things changed. Pip only concentrates on being a gentleman and winning over Estella.
Pip doesn’t think about Joe much anymore. When Joe went to visit Pip, and Joe kept trying to put his hat on the corner of the chimney piece without realizing it is too big, Pip becomes very annoyed with him. ‘I felt impatient of him and out of temper with him.'(p.631) If things were like home, Pip would teach Joe, not be annoyed at him. But Joe, being this mild and good-natured man, blames the whole incident on himself. The relationships between Pip and Joe are very different throughout the novel.
Without Joe in the novel, Pip wouldn’t have ever received his great expectation. Joe is the ‘man of the house’. Joe provides the family with money. This money gives them a place to stay, food, and clothing. When Pip met the first convict, he demanded a file and wittles. Where would Pip get these items if Joe were not there to provide the money, which provided the food, shelter, and clothing? Pip would not be able to provide his convict with the file and wittles and the other convict would take Pip’s heart and lungs out. Then, there would be nobody to give the expectation to and there would also be no reason to give the expectation. The main reason for the convict giving the expectation was the last person who did something good for him. But Pip never gives the wittles and file to the convict so there was no last good thing done. So, without Joe, there would be no expectation.
The theme Joe best represents is ‘Sophisticated manners are not nearly as important as genuine kindness and affection.’ At the beginning of the novel, Joe and Pip’s did not show sophisticated manners but stayed friends because they had kindness and affection for each other. But as Pip received his expectation, became a gentleman, and went to London, he lived in an environment of sophisticated manners. Manners in which Joe were not familiar with. But Joe did not care about how sophisticated Pip became. All he cared about was the kindness and affection they had together. That was all that mattered in their friendship to Joe.
Overall, Joe’s relationship to Pip gets an A+ because his thoughts of Pip stayed steady throughout the novel no matter what Pip did to Joe. Pip’s relationship to Joe gets a C because at the beginning he felt the same way about Joe but his expectation changed his feelings about Joe. Nothing should be able to break up a strong relationship. Joe’s importance to the plot received an A because the plot would not be able to continue without Joe. Joe’s representation to the theme received an A because Joe was the one who didn’t care about sophisticated manners, but only genuine kindness and affection. ‘…There has been no writer of fiction in the western world who had Dicken’s genius for creating such an infinite variety of characters.'(CLIFFS NOTES p.54) Charles Dickens has created Joe as an amazing character in the novel, Great Expectations.
Miss Havisham…A Victim or a Villain?
Was Miss Havisham a victim or a villain? This extremely eccentric character is absolutely essential to the plot of Great Expectations, for with malice intended, she greatly alters the paths of Pip’s and Estella’s lives, and with obsessive behavior destroys her own life.
Miss Havisham was heir to a fortune that had been gained by successful industry rather than noble birth. Miss Havisham’s suitor, Compeyson, was, by social classification, beneath her. The fact that he jilted her and was of a lower station was a double blow to her obviously frail mental state.
Dickens reminds us that even money earned by hard work rather than noble inheritance does not assure happiness.
With this catalytic event, Miss Havisham committed pseudo suicide and confined herself to a mausoleum…Satis House. It is necessary for the reader to know that Miss Havisham’s psychotic behavior began precisely at 8:40 a.m. on what was to have been her wedding day. When Miss Havisham learned that she had been deserted by Compeyson, she was wearing just one shoe.
“She had not quite finished dressing, for she had but one shoe on.” Dickens is emphasizing how suspended in time Miss Havisham remains.
It does not seem a stretch to believe that Dickens was showing us how all of humanity is just one step from insanity. Dickens described Miss Havisham’s surroundings: the court-yard “but grass growing in every crevice,” and the brewery “all was empty and disused.” Metaphorically, the same words describe Miss Havisham and illustrate that a life of revenge is hollow and unattended.
The humiliation and hurt Miss Havisham suffers at the hand of Compeyson causes her to coach her adopted daughter, Estella, in the many ways to break a man’s heart. Incapable of doing it herself from her weakened and aging position, she uses Estella as her weapon of revenge.
I am quite certain that Dickens arrived at Miss Havisham’s name by implementing some combination of words that provided him with a metaphorical laugh. I have my own interpretation; Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary shares my guilt. One definition of “have” is … “to cause.” “Sham” is also defined as … “something to be pretended other than it is.” To cause a pretension is exactly what Miss Havisham did to Pip by allowing him to think she was his secret benefactor.
Miss Havisham was a victim only because she allowed herself to be. A strong person would have quickly realized that her life would be improved by being liberated from Compeyson, a white-collared criminal. Miss Havisham’s villainy is forgivable; her self-imposed insanity allows us to do that. Miss Havisham is a marvelous diversion for the reader: not quite believable, but oh, so interesting.
Social criticism in The Great Gatsby
Authors often use their works to convey criticisms of society. Such works of literature do not directly criticize specific real people or events. They do however present a sense of the writer’s concern with issues of social injustice and misguided values. Two strong examples of social criticism through literature are Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In both novels the writers project their social criticisms to the reader through the use of characterization and setting.
Great Expectations was written and set in mid-Victorian England, having been first published as a serial in “All The Year Round” a weekly English periodical.
Dickens used this form of publication to incrementally dose his readers with his criticisms of Victorian English Society. In this work the writer uses setting to influence character; thereby showing how social problems arise from people conform too the political, social and economic elements of society. The Great Gatsby was written and set in “jazz-era” 1920’s America.
With this novel Fitzgerald criticizes a different society than that of Great Expectations that has different problems. However the author still uses the relationship between setting and character to bring to life a critical portrayal of American 1920’s society.
With Great Expectations Dickens strongly criticizes three social problems that afflict Victorian England: the treatment of children, the injustice of the social class structure and the inhumanity of government and Law. In the authors time children were objectified as a virtually cost free commodity of labor to support the industrial revolution. Dickens expresses criticism of the abuse of children in Britain through characterization in Great Expectations. The most poignant example of this is the storys protagonist Phillip Pirrip, referred to throughout the novel as Pip. Pip portrays the abuse of children through example. During childhood he receives regular beatings and constant harassment by his sister and guardian Mrs. Joe. Being an orphan he is considered a burden not only by Mrs. Joe but also by her family and friends, as expressed early on in the story by the unanimity of all present (save Joe) around the dinner table at Christmas. This universal malice against Pip for being a young child who is dependent for the basic necessities of life establishes and carries the novels theme of the dehumanization of children in Britain.
In fact Pip is eventually legally bound to Joe as forced labor in his blacksmith shop. The paradigm of Victorian child mistreatment is further established as one realizes that Pips indentures are a favorable alternative to being sent to a forced labor work mill, as was the status-quo for orphans and unwanted children. Other lesser characters are examples of Dickens’ displeasure with social regard for children. Trabbs Boy, the young boy of Pips age who is bound to work for the tailor and labor at his yolk is only shown during childhood as being objectified as a labor commodity.
The Avenger, the boy whom is hired by Pip after his social elevation and move to London is only shown as being controlled by a young adult Pip as a domestic servant. Even Estella is an example of the objectification and dehumanization of children. Although she is never forced into labor as a child on a count of the wealth of her guardian Miss Havisham, she is raised to be an object of unquestioned obedience. Deliberately making her the heartless and cruel embodiment of Miss Havishams vendetta against the world beyond the gates of Satis House.
In Dickens’ England society conformed to a class structure that was obsessed with social satire and wealth. On its lowest end the great multitude, droves of people that worked jobs as industrial slaves in work mills and factories. These people, the majority of the population were entered into this world of work at very young ages, were forced to work twelve hour days and were paid extremely little. At this time there were no legal perimeters for safety or rate of pay. There was no state education and so the people of the vast lower class who could not afford to send their children to school were forced to suffer generation after generation in appalling working conditions. Dickens criticizes this injustice in Great Expectations buy mocking a society that values wealth and appearance. In the novel typically the poorest characters are the most honest and moral and the wealthiest are the most immoral and corrupt. Pips moral stalwart is Joe, his much older brother in law. Joe is a poor blacksmith who is ridiculed for his humble means by his wife and also by a wealthy Pip for his humility and ignorance of wealth and high society.
Despite this Joe is the only character that is universally kind and compassionate, the stories only true gentleman, but is never socially recognized as such because of his low social stature. On the other hand Miss Havisham is a character that shows this relationship between wealth and immorality. She is the most visibly wealthy person in the novel; she is also the cruelest. All of her actions are motivated by a desire to humiliate Pip and make him feel in human due to his modest upbringing. John Wemmick is a very visible example of the juxtaposition of corrupt wealth and honest humility. He is a law clerk to the powerful London lawyer Mr. Jaggers. While at work with Jaggers he conforms to the environment by being an emotionally devoid subordinate who will follow nearly any directive regardless of morality. When he is outside of work he shows a kindness towards Pip and compassion toward his elderly dependant father, making him a product of his environment.
The clearest example shown by character in Great Expectations is Able Magwich. Magwich is sent to penal colony Australia as an expelled convict. While in the New World he works very hard and amounts to great wealth. Despite his capital gain Magwich does not fall into immoral corruption. The character remains on moral high ground due to his complete willingness to freely give all his money to Pip in an act of uncompromising gratitude for the meal charitably given him by Pip one cruel day on the marshes. Pip, once made the beneficiary of Magwichs’ money does fall into moral decline. Pips moral redemption only comes after he comes to terms with the fact that he has become destined never to get Magwichs’ money. Pip then completes his own moral salvation by under great personal peril tries to help Magwich escape a certain death under the gallows.
Dickens also employs setting in Great Expectations to showcase his criticism of corruptness and moral disregard due to power and money. This is portrayed with a comparison of Miss Havishams residence Satis house and Pips first home with Joe the forge. Satis house is the seat of greatest personal wealth in the novel. It is an aged, decrepit and filthy environment despite the tremendous wealth of Miss Havisham. This setting reflects the evil derangement of Miss Havisham and the authors theme of lowered morality proportionate to increased wealth. In complete contrast the forge is the seat of social humility. Joe works hard and gains very little money yet his home is a place of great comfort and moral fortitude. It is here that Pips fondest memories live, sitting before the hearth in the evenings with Joe having the only true relationship of family that he feels throughout the novel.
Setting is used with character by Dickens to convey his criticism of the inhuman social structures and legal system of Victorian England. All of the public sate facilities in Great Expectations are portrayed as in human and cruel. The first settings of state property that the reader is shown are the prison ships anchored off the marshes. They are described by Pip as cruel ghostly places, the homes of all the criminals of society. The next state facility in the novel is the county courthouse that Pip is taken to have his indentures notarized. It is here that Pip is legally made a slave. It is a London courthouse in which Magwich is banished from England.
It is in the same courthouse that the wealthy criminal Provis can afford a better attorney than Magwich so making him the recipient punishment for Provis’ crimes. Finally Magwich is handed the sentence of death in a courtroom, the laws dehumanization of society illustrated as over a dozen men and women are simultaneously sentenced to die with a single order from a judge. Aside from the novel Dickens made a famous quote to the effect of criticizing the dehumanizing role of the state stating his “political creed”, “My faith in the people governing, is, on the whole infinitesimal,” he announced; “my faith in The People governed, is, on the whole, illimitable.” (Welsh).
F. Scott Fitzgerald was another author whom attempted social criticism through the employment of setting and characterization. In his novel The Great Gatsby he criticizes the backwardness of status-quo social idealism in jazz-era America. The world of Fitzgerald is much different than the world of Dickens however the use of writing is still used to identify problems in society and criticize them. In The Great Gatsby two main themes of social criticism are projected: greed and declining moral values. The abundance of greed in The Great Gatsby is self- evident, it is not the greed that is criticized but societies unwavering belief and acceptance of it. The novel is narrated through the moral retrospection of Nick Carrawy, a man who himself is critical of the greed, carelessness and the delusional nature of the stories primary characters. Even though he is a bond salesman, a person whose job is to do nothing else than to contrive and employ the most efficient methods of making money, reiterating Fitzgeralds theme of illusion verses reality. The negative effects of greed on society are shown through characterization.
Daisy married Tom Buchannan even though she was in love with Gatsby because at the time Tom was far wealthier than Gatsby. This example becomes tangible when the gift of an extraordinarily expensive necklace confirms Daisys acceptance of Toms marriage proposal. Daisy is betrayed by her greed when Tom consummates an affair with Myrtle Wilson. Tom is also a victim of greed, not for money but for something else he considers to be a commodity: women. When he pursues Myrtle he pushes daisy closer to Gatsby, almost loosing her. Myrtle shows the reader the most vivid example of Fitzgeralds catharsis against greed. After betraying her loving husband to have an affair with Tom, whom she was drawn to for the lavish fun afforded in New York by his money, is killed. Myrtle dies when she sees Toms car approaching and runs out into the road to confront him about his not willing to see her any longer, she is hit and killed.
The Moral values of the jazz-era are criticized in The Great Gatsby through character and setting. The first instance that family is portrayed in the novel the reader sees it through Nicks eyes as he visits the Buchannans home for dinner shortly after arriving to West Egg. Tom exchanges no remarks with his wife but instead he serves alcohol. Daisy shows Nick her daughter by having her brought into the room by the hired nurse who raises her and then having her promptly taken away. During dinner Tom takes a phone call with his mistress and when Nick is in the private company of Jordan she does nothing but gossip about Toms affair. Moral Values are criticized in the setting of Gatsbys house during the parties that Nick attends. The party is lavish and very active with live entertainment and lots of alcohol and food. The guest become drunk and stupidity ensues with a car accident at the end of Gatsbys lawn. These are not teenagers but wealthy and affluent adults getting drunk and being reckless. With such portrayal of family and respected society Fitzgerald negatively criticizes the moral values of American society.
Charles Dickens and F. Scott Fitzgerald both viewed society critically. While Dickens was a social reformer who gave many speeches and donated his time too many social causes Fitzgerald preferred to showcase the problems that he saw with society in literature so that his reading public may form their own conclusions. Both authors made their criticisms with the use of characterization and setting in the novels they wrote. For Dickens Great Expectations was a work of criticism that targeted Britains Victorian era societal deficiencies such as the objectification, mistreatment and abuse of children as well as a discriminating class structure and a political and legal system that was cruel and inhuman. He gained first had insight into this problem as a child being forced to work in a blacking warehouse.
He grew up in the middle class with no public education or health care. His father was sent to prison for being in debt were he died. For Dickens such criticism was necessary to encourage social reform. Fitzgerald was an author whom was critical of the social decline into greed and carelessness that faced 1920’s jazz era America. Even though the American people had more than any other society before they still faced the inherent problems of being human thus capable of making the wrong choices. Fitzgerald proposed little in the way of reforming such problems realizing that he could only point them out with the literary criticism of his work and hope for a better future.
Extracts from 'Great Expectations
The extracts I will be analysing are from the novel Great Expectations written by Charles Dickens. I am going to be describing how Dickens has succeeded in making the reader feel sorry for Pip. Dickens used his own experiences as a boy to help him write sympathetically of being a young child, his family had no money and got transferred from city to city until he was ten years old, his father was also sent to prison for six months over debt.
He based the character Pip in remembrance of himself as a child, writing about his own thoughts and feelings to help himself create more sympathy for Pip.
Pips given name was Philip Pirrip, as he was so young he couldnt pronounce his complicated name correctly, so he shortened it and named himself Pip. Pip was very imaginative as a young boy, he lived nearby to a graveyard and there wasnt many other people about, so Pip was alone and lonely a lot because he couldnt make friends with anyone.
During the first extract we get to see that Pip is an orphan after he says: As I never saw my father or my mother.. (for their days were long before the days of photographs), we recognise that he unfortunately lost both his mother and father along with five brothers he once had, who passed away whilst they were still infants. The only family Pip had, was his older sister Mrs Joe Gargery and her husband who was a Blacksmith. He had lived with them both for most of his life, his sister treats him dreadfully as all she sees Pip as is a waste of space in her household. Whilst her husband – Joe Gargery, treats Pip like he was his own flesh and blood. We now get the chance to begin to see the hard and upsetting life Pip leads and what he has gone through in the past. We start to feel sympathy for Pip, as not many children would have to go through the same experience as he once did.
Where he lived was neither such a nice place to be around, nor one of the friendliest places to live either. Pip describes the village he lived in as a marsh country down by the river, also remarking how the churchyard nearby to his home is full of over grown nettles and also bleak. The small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all, and beginning to cry was Pip, from what we are told of the surroundings and atmosphere where he lives, it all seems like a gloomy, upsetting place to be around. Also, it sounds as if it were to be constantly dim and discoloured, somewhere were no soul would choose to be, whilst the marsh country is similarly being described with the colours black and red included symbolising things such as death. Dickens used a technique called imagery making us think about how unfortunate Pip is to have to live there, and that it would make you feel depressed and slightly unwanted as you would have no friends, if you were to live there too.
Pip sneaks out of his house in the early hours of the morning to visit his mother and fathers grave when he comes across Magwitch who approaches him fiercely. We begin to get the impression of how scared Pip may have been, as he starts to gently cry after he pleaded to Magwitch:Oh! Dont cut my throat sir.
Whilst Magwitch was threatening to do so, dressed in:All coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. A man with no hat and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied around his headAfter Pip had seen this man who turns out to be and escaped prisoner he knows nothing of, dressing in such clothes, I am sure just the view of him would have scared him, even before Magwitch chose to threaten him once again, asking him to; fetch him some wittle and a file. Wittle was a word used as colloquial which the people of those days would have said, which simply meant; food. Magwitch wanted a file to help him file off the chains left around his ankle. If Pip didnt fetch Magwitch what he had requested, he furiously and vigorously told Pip:If you fail or go by my words in any partickler, no matter how small it is, your heart and live shall be tore out, roasted and ate. Magwitch tried to kid Pip into believing that if he didnt do as he pleaded, a different man he had not seen, would come and find him and no matter were he hid, he would be able to get to him.
Although this man he speaks of did not exist, Pip was only young so he didnt know any better than to believe the words that came form Magwitchs mouth. Yet, the thoughts Pip must have had running through his head at this moment in time must have been horrific, seeing as Pip was so much more than just imaginative and always thought of the worse scenario possible, making things even harder for himself of what would have happened if he didnt do as he were told. At this moment in time we begin to feel enormously sorry for Pip, after we get to see what Magwitch put him through just to get his own way. As Magwitch would have known, the younger he was the easier he was to fool over this imaginary man he had told him of. As a result he was proved right, when Pip then brought himself back to the churchyard the following morning with the goods Magwitch insisted he brought.
After this extract the reader is affected with thoughts of what Pip went through after meeting the prisoner and after being viscously threatened by him. Dickens wrote this effectively for the reader to feel sympathy for Pip affectionately, also to create an image of what was going on in more detail, than if Dickens didnt put so much effort into making it much more intense.
Dickens uses descriptive language to add life to the characters and tell us more about them. For example Magwitchs character uses a lot of dialect such as: Who dyou live with – supposing youre kindly let to live, which I hant made up my mind about? this suggests that Magwitch is a scruffy, common character. Dickens has wrote Magwitchs character to be phonetic, this also gives a comic edge to the convicts character. Whilst Miss Havisham doesnt have a personal dialect although her speech is very prosperous and well spoken: You are not afraid of a woman who has not seen the light since you were born?. This also brings the point across of how she hasnt left the chair she is sitting in since her wedding day, which never went forward.
In the second extract Pip is asked to visit Miss Havisham, after she remarked how she would like Estella to play with Pip. Pip was worried at what she would think of him as he had never met this woman before. When we see Pips facial expressions after his first glimpse of Miss Havisham, we start to feel sympathy for him as she was dressed in a wedding dress still from the day she was supposed to get married. Pips description of her at this moment is: She was dressed in rich materials — satins, and lace, and silks — all of white. Her shoes were white. And she has a long white veil dependent from her hair Decayed objects.
She was sat in a dim room, which she hadnt moved from since her wedding day. You could see from Pips body language and facial expressions that he was horrified at the sight of her: I regret to state that I was not afraid. Miss Havisham asked if he were somehow frightened of her and he blatantly told the lie that he wasnt, although he regretted it sometime afterwards he was very afraid to admit that he was nervous and scared of her at the time.
Estella was Miss Havishams adopted daughter, who was asked to play with Pip and break his heart. After Estella says to Pip: What coarse hands he has!. Pip then changes his mind and wants to become a gentleman instead of a Blacksmith, as she keeps on insulting Pip and denounced him for a labouring boy, we start to feel sorry for him. Whilst Pip thought Estella was a very pretty and proud young lady, she was just in need of breaking his heart as she had been asked to do so. Miss Havisham had power over Pip because she was rich, so he did his best to do as he was told, in dread of what she could have done if he disobeyed her.
Towards the end of the second extract, Pip begins to wish he had lead a different life and blames Joe Gargery for his upbringing: I wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so too. This is a turning point for Pip whilst he also blames Joe for teaching him to call the picture-cards jacks, instead of knaves in a pack of cards, because Estella had laughed at him for calling them jacks. Again we begin to feel sympathy for Pip for the way Estella treats him, because he is a: Common labouring-boy! as she describes him. We especially feel sorry for him when Miss Havisham tells Pip he may not say anything of Estella. She also repeats her words: She says many hard things of you, but you say nothing of her. This shows the reader how harsh Miss Havisham is towards Pip, further on in the extract we see that Miss Havisham treats Pip even more harsh, just to hurt his feelings and make him wish he was a different boy.
Overall I think Dickens was successful, as my response being the reader I thought that it was very touching and I easily felt sympathy for Pip throughout both of the extracts. I personally think that it is important to be able to feel sympathy for Pip in the first extract, as it then helps us feel sympathy whilst he visits Miss Havisham later on in the novel in the second extract. After we see that Pip doesnt have much of a family and that he is horrified of doing anything wrong, just because of the circumstances which would have occurred by his sister or even Magwitch it makes us feel more sympathy towards the end while Miss Havisham and Estella try and mess up his mind and upset him.
Realism in "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens
Realism was developed by the middle of the 19th century as a response to the idealistic world of romanticism which had dominated for the past half century. It was an aesthetic movement which attempted to hold up a mirror to its society to show a true reflection of reality. Although claiming to offer a slice of life by emphasizing chiefly in the importance of the ordinary amongst the middle and lower classes, realism is a relative concept, a representation of reality which adheres to a loose collection of conventions.
Many of these are offered in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, which follows the life and struggles of the protagonist and narrator, Pip. Dickens uses techniques such as a chronological linear narrative, an omniscient narrator, the celebration of the ordinary, and the resolution of the enigma to drive the moral undercurrents of Pip’s everyday existence. This constructed realism is essentially a representation of reality based on Dickens ideology, offering social commentary and reflecting the values and attitudes of nineteenth century England.
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The basic structure of Great Expectations follows a chronological development of Pip’s life; from his childhood innocence, to his disillusioned expectations, finally his rejection of the high life and a circular succession ending back at the beginning. This chronological structure of which Dickens narrates exemplifies Pip’s learning process through his moral and emotional turmoil and complies with the opportunity to generate a realistic setting. For example, Pip’s description of London, “a most dismal place; the skylight eccentrically patched like a broken head, and the distorted adjoining houses looking as if they had twisted themselves to peep down at me through it,” creates an archaeologically realistic description of London, and hints a sense of foreboding, foreshadowing the futility of Pip’s expectations. This ideology developed through Pips learning process is created through a carefully crafted linear plot in order to present fiction as reality.
Reflected by the matured Pip in the perspective of the omniscient narrator, Great Expectations’ first person narration employs the wisdom of hindsight to define the events and characters of the story. Dickens imbues the voice of the matured Pip to make judgments on his past actions, at the Christmas dinner for instance, Pip experiences a deep desire to tweak Mr. Wopsle’s large nose–to “pull it until he howled.” The older Pip narrates this encounter comically and sympathetically, conveying his youthful innocence through the perspective of a child. This convention of retrospect produces a sense of psychological depth and compassion, given access to Pip’s feelings, thoughts and motivations. As the newly democratic age finds importance in the individual, essentially Great Expectations is both an external novel in Pip’s commentary of the society around him and an internal novel in the development of his perspective. By evoking consciousness of Pip’s character, Dickens coaxes the audience to enter the illusion of reality.
Furthermore, in parallel to the importance of the individual, realism tends to concern its interests in the commonplace and ordinary everyday lives among the lower classes. Through the characters of Great Expectations, Dickens celebrates the commonplace, employing Pip, the most ordinary of subjects, as a central vehicle instilled to investigate his social reality and to express ideological views on society. Biddy, for instance “was not beautiful – she was common, and could not be like Estella – but she was pleasant and wholesome and sweet-tempered.”
Despite her humble position in society Biddy emerges with admirable values, which contrasts to the cold beauty, cruelty and deception of Estella. In accordance to realist conventions concerned with rejecting the ideal, Dickens portrays the upper class with great malice, greed and corruption as Miss Havisham encourages Estella to torment Pip, whispering “Break their hearts!” Ideologically driven, realism is deliberate in rejoicing in the ordinary, and condemning the supreme.
Moreover, realism is largely concentrated on ideologically driven values as the central issues of life tend to be ethical. Dickens paints the lower class to embody a high moral ground and rejects the false values of the upper class. Drummle, for instance, is an upper-class lout, while Magwitch, a persecuted convict, has a deep inner worth. This concept is developed with greater depth in the character of Joe, of which despite his position in society, his unrefined and uneducated qualities, is identified as the epitome of goodness. As a true ‘gentleman’, “It was not because I was faithful, but because Joe was faithful,” Joe contrasts to the aspirations Pip seeks to become, of which Dickens shows as corrupt and materialistic. It was Joe’s “quiet goodness” stemming from honestly, empathy and kindness, which compelled Pip, as he reflects in retrospect, to reject the values of this society in favor of an inner morality.
Additionally, a sense of ending is invested in Great Expectations which resolves the plot. The learning process Pip embarks on educates him on the futility of his expectations, and his hopes to return as a gentleman is a complete failure: Estella reminds him coldly that she has “no heart.” In Pip’s case, closure is restored through his moral development and growth, epitomized in his reconciliation with Joe and Biddy. His maturation toward adulthood is symbolized by his desire to rectify his behaviour toward his lower class loved ones. Pip has at last learned that love, loyalty and morality hold more value than social class and wealth.
On a different vein, at times Great Expectations does not remain faithful to the conventions of realism. Dickens tends to slip in and out of reality, deviating from realism to social satire, using hyperbole to satirize the pretentiousness of Pumblechook’s social improvement “a large hard-breathing middle-aged slow man, with a mouth like a fish, dull staring eyes…looked as if he had just be all but choked.” The gothic genre is also apparent in Pip’s first description of Miss Havisham, “…ought to be white, had lost its luster, and was faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress…Now, waxwork and skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me.” The audience’s first impression of Miss Havisham is thus one of darkness, mystery and terror. With these constructed implications, realism is considered a loose convention as Dickens deviates between reality and the conventions of other genres.
It can be seen that Great Expectations exhibits aspects of realism as it assumes that reality inheres in the here and now, in the everyday. Dickens employs themes including accurate descriptions of specific setting, the chronological structure of the story, the omniscient narrator, the importance of the ordinary, the pedestrian, and the middle class with tendency to reject the ideal and the resolution of the enigma. Dickens also tends to deviate between different genres in contrast to the realistic portrayal of certain aspects in society. When these constructs are applied in literature, a set of conventions emerges, however in order to mimic reality they only offer an abstraction of reality reflecting the values and ideology of the composer’s context. With that said, literary realism is essentially a representation of the world based on the attitudes of the composer, carefully constructed to a set of conventions.
Mister Pip Relationship
In the novel Mister Pip, the characters are stripped of all luxuries, which expose their innermost beliefs and their conflicting personality, causing disruption between the different characters. This essay will examine intense personal relationships between Matilda, Dolores and Mr Watts that lie at the heart of this novel and will argue that the relationships lying at the heart of Mister Pip are both intense and intricately wound into the story with a purpose of either driving the plot forward or getting an important idea across to the reader.
Matilda has a common mother-daughter relationship with Dolores and often doesn’t agree with how her mother does things. As Mister Pip is written from Matilda’s point of view in first person, the readers gain an interesting perspective on her relationships with others. Matilda states things without being emotionally charged, which Jones has done so that the readers are positioned to empathise with Matilda. Mothers and daughters do not always have the best relationship, and so we as readers are caught up in their arguments, the plot is driven forwards.
Matilda understands that Dolores is jealous of how interested she is in this new book Great Expectations rather than her heritage but she is too stricken by the book to stop reading it. Jones shows this when Matilda says, ‘What made her mother’s blood run hot was this white boy Pip and his place in my life’. This shows the reader that Dolores clings on to Matilda because she sees Matila as all she has left in the world. Dolores shows her hatred and fear of anything “white” as she doesn’t understand white people and doesn’t want Matilda to get hurt.
Dolores has a fear of her daughter entering a different world, often a fear for mothers as their children grow up and no longer do they have the control over their lives that they used to. Although we are lead to dislike Dolores, we see how much Matilda really used to look up to her when she finds out that Dolores stole Great Expectations. When she finds the book, she is so angry and confused, showing it was the worst time ever in their relationship.
It is hard to put into words my feelings of betrayal at that moment’ shows that although Matilda is frustrated by her mothers religion, she trusted Dolores to do the right thing and although she understands why her mum took the book, she loses this trust in her mother to be morally responsible. She also realises how desperately Dolores wants to keep Matilda close and protect her, but she is so betrayed by her behaviour that this pushes her away from her mother even more. Dolores and Mr Watts have the most controversial relationship in this novel.
Mr Watts stands for everything that Dolores didn’t believe in, as she was extremely religious yet he was an atheist. They are two completely different people that are forced together when Mr Watts becomes Matilda’s teacher. While Dolores is adamant that Matilda should live a life alongside ‘The Good Book’, Mr Watts focuses more on what it means to be a gentleman, an idea completely idyllic to Matilda. Although this is a significant aspect of his teaching, his teachings were more about change.
Conflict stems from Mr Watts being a white man; Dolores hates white men because of their effect on Bougainville through the mines and blames them for the loss of her husband. This idea is used to drive the plot forwards, as the reader learns alongside Matilda about a whole new world and way of being. Mr Watts teaches the young Bougainvilleans that ‘A gentleman is a man who never forgets his manners, no matter the situation’, and ‘a gentleman always does the right thing’.
This is an interesting concept, as although both Dolores and Mr Watts have a high regard in doing the morally right thing, Dolores despises Mr Watts for teaching Matilda values that she sees to be immoral. The author shows that this may be because it gets across the idea that Dolores doesn’t understand the world outside of Bougainville, the ‘white’ world. This shows the intensity of the relationship between Dolores and Mr Watts, as eventually Dolores shows she is the paramount ‘gentleman’ when she sacrifices her life for Matilda’s virginity and essentially gets raped for defending Mr Watts.
The idea of conflict from being ‘white’ and ‘racism’ between Dolores and Mr Watts is mentioned many times throughout the text. Dolores is hostile towards all white people, as she sees them responsible for the civil war “there were white people crawling over Panguna like ants over a corpse”. The children say ‘We had grown up believing white to be the color of all the important things, like aspirin, ice cream, ribbon, the moon’.
This shows that Mr Watts does not only fascinate the locals, but racism really comes to be a part of this novel, as the older generations are influencing the thoughts of the younger children. Jones shows the intensity of this relationship when Dolores goes into the schoolhouse to preach to the children – she sees Mr Watts teachings as infiltrating their innocence, and believes that the bible is the only way to live by. This is another contradictory idea though, as although Dolores swears by the bible, she breaks one of the Ten Commandments when she steals the book.
This shows that her urge to protect Matilda’s innocence and to do what she believes is morally right is greater even than her Christianity. Dolores has one redeeming feature, which is her love for Matilda. When the soldiers say they are going to rape her, Dolores says ‘She is my only girl. Please. I beg you. Not my darling Matilda’. This is when the reader really learns that Matilda is all she has left, and is willing to give her life to make Matilda’s a little easier and to preserve her innocence.
The thoughts that Matilda had on Dolores as being ‘the bravest woman’ were at the end, so it is only after the death of her mother and when Matilda was older that she completely understood her mother. In Mister Pip, the relationships between Dolores, Mr Watts and Matilda were very intense. Jones showed these relationships had two purposes, which were either to drive forward the plot, or to get important ideas across such as being a gentleman, and the ‘white’ world. The reader would clearly see that these deep and personal relationships shaped the novel, and the path that Matilda’s life took.
Great Expectations Thesis
Charles Dickens used Miss Havisham as a sign of theoretical imprisonment. Miss Havisham; although not being physically sent to prison as Abel Magwitch, was a strong representation of a psychological jail time. She was never informed to remain locked up in her home rotting away and torturing herself for several years with no human interaction besides that of her step-daughter Estella and ultimately Pip. She not just physically imprisons herself however mentally she imprisons her mind into the state of being that all men must suffer, not only trapping herself into an unstable mind set however trapping her daughter as well.
Firstly the obvious physical jail time, she remains in her home locked in with her wedding memories: being the “regret of the criminal activity”. Miss Havisham sits alone in her home gazing at these wedding event items that any sane females would have ripped up and destroyed in moments. She’s simply simmering in her despair. Miss Havisham’s heartache is what keeps her in her estate: the “guards of the jail”.
She lays alone due to the fact that of the pain she’s sensation. She’s not able to leave from the discomfort and hypothetically “the guards.” Lastly Estella: “The sentencing of the criminal offense.” Miss Havisham raised Estella to dislike guys and crush their hearts, in the end Estella squashed Pip’s heart and Miss Havisham couldn’t think what a monster she had actually produced. Miss Havisham had to deal with the truth that now she was the monstrous ruthless male that when broke her heart.
In addition, all of Miss Havisham’s clocks have been stopped at precisely 9:20, she has imprisoned herself in the past in a theoretical way. Being that 9:20 was when her fiancé left her at the altar. She’s painfully reminding herself of the minute of her heartbreak. Being stuck in this moment has caught her mentally so she can only feel that terrible anxiety from her heartbreak. In a method she’s frozen in the past and reluctant to leave: jail time.
The Satis House: Miss Havisham’s “prison” in a way reflects her feelings. “Miss Havisham’s house, which was of old brick and dismal, and had a great many iron bars to it. Some of the windows had been walled up; of those that remained, all the lower were rustily barred” (55). When first presented this description one’s mind should think of a prison. This description of the house shows being neglected and not cared for, in a way this shows how Miss Havisham must have felt when Compeyson left her at the aisle. Miss Havisham’s feelings then reflect upon the house as a prison.
In summation, Miss Havisham is a strong symbol of imprisonment in “Great Expectations” because of the many different physical and emotional imprisonments she’s gone through in her life. Miss Havisham’s whole life was a very depressing gloomy mess and she spent much of her life trapped with nowhere to turn. Her dress being burned and set in flames gave her freedom and eventual peace. This being the obvious freedom after imprisonment.