Social Class Influence on the Individual
“Poor as a church mouse” vs. “born with a silver spoon in your mouth” are contrasting themes in this book of hardships and life trials. In Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the main character Pip interacts with characters of various social groups. These groups directly or indirectly, help Pip understand his own opportunities and purpose in life. From these interactions, it becomes clear that social class influences how people interact and view one another as well as their opportunities in life. Some people do not have the same opportunity as others of getting education. This contrast is shown in the life circumstances of two characters of different social classes. Joe (uncle to Pip) had different educational opportunities than others did. He had little chance for education when he was a boy because his family moved a lot and his father was a blacksmith so he did not feel that education was needed. As a child Pip realized that Joe, even as an adult, could not read, so he “… derived from this, that Joe’s education, like Steam, was yet in its infancy. Pursuing the subject, I inquired- ‘Didn’t you ever go to school, Joe, when you were as little as me?’ ’No, Pip’ ” (Dickens 56-57). Bentley Drummle was a classmate of Pip that, “came of rich people down in Somersetshire…” (Dickens 255). Pip and Drummle studied together under the same tutor in London as Pip was preparing to become a gentleman. It is obvious that Drummle had more of an educational opportunity than Joe because Drummle came from a wealthier family. Since formal education cost a lot of money during the 1800s, children from rich and poor families had different opportunities of getting education. Private schools were expensive. There were few public schools, so “Many children in early Victorian England never went to school at all and more than half of them grew-up unable even to read or write.” (www.nettlesworth.durham.sch.uk). Later in life, Pip was only able...
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