Paper Example on Great Expectations: Reflections of Victorian Age Morality

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1711 Words
Date:  2023-03-28


Representing the Victorian Era, Dickens' Great Expectations reflects the society during the Victorian age, along with an illustration of the morality of the era's people. Since the Victorian period is known for presenting features like manners, thrift, integrity, virtue, strength, among others, Charles Dickens considers these features as he creates illustrations and characters seen to work both in a good way or the not in any way at all. The different illustrations used in the book are assigned different roles as they intend to deliver a differing message as well as indicate on the illustrator's approach and style. This paper will analyze illustrations shown in Great Expectations that are significant in explaining ideas in writing.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

By touching the expectation in the life of the characters in writing, with the greatest being the expectation of Pip, the book's protagonist, Dickens, shows the changes, particularly in dealing with moral issues. With the influence of characters such as Estella and Miss Havisham, they are seen corrupting Pip's life, and he decides to leave his values as he went for beauty, arrogance, and greed. Further, the characters of Biddy and Joe as seen as static through the novel as they represent ideal Victorians. Based on the plot of the writing and characterization, Great Expectations offer disclosure about the setup of the Victorian society through significant perspectives such as social class division, injustices in the community, the education system in rural England, and the corrupted judicial system between urban and rural England (Haque 17). Through the novel, Dickens maintains a proper exploration of the significant issues about the social class system in the Victorian community.

Upholding the reflection of the Victorian age, the different ideas portrayed through characterization have been supported by numerous illustrations as the events in writing unfold. Even though most critics imply that the first publication of the book was without illustrations, illustrators like John McLennan helped illustrate the novel (Allingham 113). Through the narrative-pictorial sequences, they ensure a proper interpretation of the book, especially by focusing on Pip, whose process is noted as he appears in almost every illustration (Allingham 113). Characters such as Magwitch are not seen in the illustrations. In different dimensions, the illustrations used in writing are given through salient background details and provide exceptional illumination and self-insight. The significant characters such as Pumblechook and Mrs. Pocket are clearly defined through the illustrations (Haque 17). In various ways, the difference in the illustrations is an indication that every drawing served a great purpose in representing the message in the novel.

Besides the representation of the novel events, the illustrations demonstrate the artists' different in terms of approach and style, and their interactions with the novel itself. In most parts within the story, Dickens discloses the negative attitudes espoused by Victorian society like the unjust practices in the community and a flawed judicial system, great immorality, the tremendous difference between rural and urban England, as well as the disparity between the different classes of people. The negative attitudes are an indication of the criticism of the Victoria age in Great Expectations as described by Dickens. In the book, the most significant pictures that have been created for illustration of the novel, and are representative and free from the caricature element (Allingham 117). The figures include; a stranger at the three jolly bargemen, frontispiece, the terrible stranger in the churchyard, I present Joe to Miss Havisham, Mrs. Joe returning from an expedition, III used, May I-May I, the guileless confectioner, Mr. Jaggers, and his clients, Aged P., Trabb's boy, Aged P. tips us the paper, the flaying of Hamlet, On the stairs, shoulder to shoulder, Here's old Bill Barley, bless your eyes, confidential with Mr. Jaggers, boundless confidence, the arrest, the old Orlick means murder, and the old place by the kitchen firelight. Through the use of the illustrations, the historical movement of Great Expression leans towards loss of self and emptiness. Dickens's fascination does not lie on the similarity of individuals in a given social class, but the differences detailing the various ways people function out of their class aspirations and identities. Continuously, Dickens focuses on characters at the extremes in the events delivered in the book rather than actors in the middle of the social classes. The figures at the extremes of the book include those that are clinging to the limits of morality and gentility, as well as those falling or rising during the various changed in the Victorian age economic setup (Klotz 214-233). Also, they form an understanding of the different problems about the Victorian era in Great Expectations.

Social Class Conflict

In Great Expectations, Dickens provides that the social class of a person was determined by the education they had attained. With a focus on the relationship between social class and education, it increases the understanding of some of the illustrations used to represent the conflict. Exploring the Victorian age social class system in different ways, Dickens shows a defective system whereby the characters are categorized as criminals such as Magwitch, peasants like Joes and Biddy, middle-class individuals like Pumblechook and the wealthy such as Miss Havisham (De Bellaigue 29-46). Such an illustration is an indication of class as a performance, the cruelty involved with class divides, and the power of class in the Victorian age. As the book begins, there are different illustrations used to represent the social class conflict (Kitton).

In the illustration in figure 1 above, it represents an interaction between Mr. Pumblechook and Pip by giving details of two scenarios. In the first instance, Mr. Pumblechook sounds commanding and instructive as he talks to Pip. However, after Pip is grown and acquires a social class, Mr. Pumblechook looks polite and is willing to interact with Pip, which brings an elaboration of differences in social level as well as the significant effects in relationships between characters.

Through the above illustration, Dickens makes an exploration of the Victorian class systems as he tries to show details of the social division (Perdue). In the drawing by Frederick William Pailthorpe (1838-1914), he tries to explain the social difference between Mr. Jaggers and his client, whereby it illustrates the actual events in Great Expectations about the interaction between higher class individuals and middle lower-class individuals.

Within this illustration by John McLenan, he shows a picture of Pip during a point when he was elevated to a social position and become precarious, having accumulated large debts (McLenan 495).

Through such illustrations, they enhance the writings by Dickens as he gives the materials for the city-life and focuses on his treatment of social issues. Primarily, the paintings try to embody the urges of the author and the artists' acceptance of lower class and working-class individuals by depicting how the strata of the society are linked as the illustrations appear in Great Expectations to draw the existing conflict between lower-class individuals and higher-class people. In Dickens's illustration of the social model, connecting characters in Great Expectations and visualization of the social class conflict occurs as he takes every chance to juxtapose all the social orders. In Victorian society, social stratification in marked by the preferential treatment in that, individuals belonging to the higher-class social group are treated much better compared to lower-class individuals. With a view of the given illustrations about social status conflict, they help in providing the idea and criticize the Victorian age (Haque 17). For instance, work from Frederick William Pailthorpe and John McLenan emphasize on Victorian society homogeneity by delivering the argument for acceptance and understanding of the lower-class individuals comparing their proximity as individuals differing from bourgeois counterparts under the circumstances (Cohen 15-38). Such illustrations signify the narrowness between social classes by exploring some of the extreme polarities.

Many of the characters in Great Expectations thrive on the delicate point of economic and poverty respectability. Through this, the illustrations draw on the roles of Pip, Magwitch, and Joe, in their interaction with different social aspects in Victorian society. Despite the determination of various things by the social class, it did not establish the real character of an individual. Through the use of illustrations in the novel, this points out some of the specific aspects concerning interaction within lower-class individuals. For instance, Joe, Biddy, Orlick, and Magwitch, who are the lowest class individuals in the novel, had good relations. However, despite the interaction, there are distinct differences, as shown by Dickens, as he tries to portray various criticisms of the Victorian age (Haque 17). For example, when Joe arrives in England, Pip finds it challenging to associate with him at multiple extents. In Great Expectations, its often hard to distinguish the social class to which the characters belong to, which makes class identity an issue of performance. In most of the cases, the characters used mainly through the illustration draw the implication as they seem unwilling to accept their predetermined social class and are determined to transform it into something spectacular. Throughout Great Expectations, more details concerning the Victorian age are described through various characters and illustrations that signify the different practices (Waugh 6-52).

Injustices in the Victorian Community

As Dickens presents the ideologies in Great Expectations, more factors surface with the inclusion of illustrations as the social classes and prudery defined the Victorian characters. In Victorian society, acceptance was based on the social level, appearance, and income. Under the social class injustices, it is seen in different instances, as depicted by Dickens. For example, the adoration of the aristocracy seen in Mrs. Joe and Pumblechook's awe of Miss Havisham is parodied by other characters whose house decays with her as she is of the upper class.

In the above illustration by Harry Furniss, it draws a presentation of Estella and Pip in Miss Havisham's garden. Through different ways, this illustration has been used to provide and show details on the idea of social level injustices. Estella does not seem to care to know Pip's name at first since she thinks she is socially higher than him. Estella's position in society pushes her to believe that she cannot be on the same level as a person from a lower class. However, Pip seems to be intellectually capable on the same level as Estella as he treats her with respect. The illustration by Harry Furniss in Great Expectations, depicts the social and appear...

Cite this page

Paper Example on Great Expectations: Reflections of Victorian Age Morality. (2023, Mar 28). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience and 25% off!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism