Social Class and Power in the Novel “Great Expectations”

Topics: Social class, Working class, Sociology Pages: 3 (1112 words) Published: May 9, 2013
Social class played a major role in the society depicted in Charles Dickens's novel “Great Expectations”. Many characters were treated differently because of their social class in the story. Seeing the contrast between how the poor and the rich were treated will give a clearer understanding of how much social class mattered. During the nineteenth century, British society was dominated and ruled by a tightly woven system of class distinctions. Social relations and acceptance were based upon position. Charles Dickens utilizes “Great Expectations” as a commentary on the system of class and each person's place within it. In the character of Pip, Dickens demonstrates the working class' obsession to overthrow their limitations and re-invent new lives. Social class determined the manner in which a person was treated and their access to education and power. Yet, class did not define the character of the individual. 

Many characters were treated differently because of their social class in the novel “Great Expectations”. Seeing the contrast between how the poor and the rich were treated will give a clearer understanding of how much social class linked to power. In chapter 27 when Joe comes to see Pip, he treats Joe in a different manner than before because Joe was now in a lower social class. His feelings about Joe's arrival were "Not with pleasure... I had the sharpest sensitiveness as to his being seen by Drummle." (p. 203). He was afraid that Drummle will look down on him because of Joe's lower class. Not only does Pip treat Joe differently, Joe also treats Pip differently because of their difference in social class. He begins to call Pip "sir" which bothered him because "sir" was the title given to people of higher class. Pip felt that they were still good friends and that they should treat each other as equals. Joe soon leaves and explains his early parting, "Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together, as I may say, and one man's a...
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