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A Satirical Interpretation of the Victorian Standards in the Novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations features a boy named Pip during his journey to become a gentleman in Victorian-era England. The story offers a satirical interpretation of many Victorian standards, such as what constitutes a “gentleman”, how women should act, and how the justice system functions. However, the main focus of the criticism is the idea that in order to have a successful life, one must have a position of power in society. Through his portrayal of various characters’ lifestyles and personalities, Dickens establishes that love, not status, is necessary to achieve personal fulfillment in life, and believing in the Victorian ideal that one must have status to be successful is a harmful and hindering value to have. Pip begins his life with humble origins: an orphan raised by his sister and her husband Joe, the town blacksmith. While Pip endures many hardships during this time and his sister exhibits some cruelties, Joe genuinely cares for Pip, and they have a strong friendship. Especially after Pip’s sister becomes bedridden, it becomes clear that Pip could lead a very happy life with Joe as his apprentice. But by this point Pip has been disillusioned with his lowly status, obsessed with impressing Estella and, by extension, raising his social status. Joe and Biddy can see right away that becoming a gentleman will not give Pip the satisfaction he seeks. When Pip voices his dissatisfaction with his current state to Biddy, she immediately asks, “[Don’t] you think you are happier as you are?” (Dickens, 119), followed by “I only want you to do well, and be comfortable”

Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations features a boy named Pip during his journey to become a gentleman in Victorian-era England. The story offers a satirical interpretation of many Victorian standards, such as what constitutes a “gentleman”, how women should act, and how the justice system functions.

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100008334
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CREATED ON
17 March 2018
COMPLETED ON
19 March 2018
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