Great Expectations-Social Class

632 Words3 Pages
What good is social class and status? Truthfulness is measured within. Pride in one's status is like poison - holding it in your hand and eating it, you shall die.” These words come from the Adi Granth, the religious text of Sikhism, but they show perfectly the failing of society Dickens laments on in Great Expectations. Class is an arbitrary division, based not on the character of an individual, but rather their possessions and wealth. Dickens castigates this class system through the foils of Estella and Biddy, Magwitch’s generosity, and Jaggers’ coolly indifferent ethics. The drastic differences in social status of Biddy and Estella molds them into very different people, with conflicting values and traits. Biddy is compassionate and approachable, Pip “repose[s] complete confidence in no one but Biddy” (95). Biddy, being raised lower class, is shocked at first to discover Pip’s desire to become a gentleman, “Oh I wouldn’t, if I was you!” (128). A working class citizen is no less respectable than a gentleman in Biddy’s eyes, it is the character of the person that truly matters. Estella, however, mocks Pip and scoffs at his “coarse hands” and “thick boots”, referring to him as a “common labouring-boy” Raised with the immense fortune of Miss Havisham, Estella has become pretentious, believing Pip to be a worse person because of his social standing. When you have everything given to you in life, you lose appreciation for those around you, becoming detached and cold, Estella tells Pip that in her heart there is “no softness there, no--sympathy--sentiment--nonsense” (238). This contrasts sharply with Biddy’s tender care and help of Pip, through her advice to him and her assistance in his educating himself. Magwitch came into a large fortune through hard work and perseverance, but instead of joining the elite upper echelon of society, he bestows the fortune of Pip,
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