Class: the Very Nature of Identity

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Class: The Very Nature of Identity Whether a person comes from the rich, moderately rich, middle class, or the very poor, class distinction is extremely prevalent in Victorian literature, especially as to what one is worth in society. Characters from Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations are at the heart of this statement and, with the help of James Eli Adams’ article, on The boundaries of social intercourse’: Class in the Victorian Novel, I will discuss social classes represented by Dickens. This will show how the audiences is motivated to think about the effects social position has on individual identity by illustrating the different lifestyles and behaviors associated in Victorian society that depict a clear separation of social class. First of all, social class is a central theme of the social order illustrated in Great Expectations. Social class determines the custom for how one is treated in society. The differences in how the rich and the poor interact with one another illustrates a more distinct understanding of how much social class counts in Victorian society. One aspect of how people of different classes interacted with each other is in their speech. Adams illustrates this by discussing Joe’s remarks to Pip about his intelligence and Pip’s recent need to rise above the occupation of blacksmith, which is the occupation of his elder brother-in-law Joe Gargery. “What a scholar you are! An’t you?” and Pip responded “I should like to be” (1:7, 45). Adams goes on to describe it as an “insuperable barrier to Pip’s ‘great expectations’—or at least to the credulity of Dickens’s audience. Joe’s presence also reminds us that such distinctions derive primarily from vast differences in education, which are a recurrent point of class division and social aspiration in the novel” (Adams 61). Along with the previous paragraph, the lack of education as a
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