Conflicting Classes: the Strife Between the Working Class and the Wealthy in Great Expectations

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Conflicting Classes: The Strife Between the Working Class and the Wealthy in Great Expectations Friedrich Engels once said, “All history has been a history of class struggles between dominated classes at various stages of social development.” These words have proved themselves to be true time and again throughout the journey of civilization. Nearly all societies in history, from ancient Egypt to present day United States, are based upon a definite and binding order of social class. This harsh reality was certainly true for one of the most analyzed periods in history, Victorian Era England. It was during this age that author Charles Dickens chose to base his dramatic and groundbreaking novel Great Expectations. Considered a lasting classic, this story tells the tale of an orphaned boy named Pip, who after living a cruel and unfortunate childhood, comes suddenly into a magnificent fortune, and is embedded with the great expectations of leaving his lowly village, and becoming a high society gentleman. It is through this pressing plot that Dickens brings to light, the deep social stratosphere that once ruled his great nation. The social separation between the working class and the wealthy in Great Expectations psychologically encompasses each individual’s mind and results in discrimination through the characters’ sense of materialism, opportunity and aspiration, and physical work. To begin with, throughout the story, materialism plays a highly influential role in how the characters and classes judge each other. The possessions that each person owns, and the way in which they act, clearly mark and divide them according to the popular sense of what is fashionable and appropriate for the times. In observation of the effect that this has in the novel, author Dennis Walder writes, “People were becoming things, and things (the things that money can buy or that are the means
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