Dickens and Banks about Control Through Manipulating Truth

Categories: Charles Dickens

The notion of control is delved into, by both Dickens and Banks -this is expressed through the environment. In "Great Expectations" Dickens' persona of Pip is seen as ungrateful in all the things his uncle Joe has done for him as he wishes he would not come to see him after becoming a gentleman "If I could have kept him away by paying money, I certainly would have paid money." Pip considers Joe to be socially inferior to him which is explicitly clear in the use of the personal pronoun 'him' Dickens doesn't allow Pip to address Joe by name to illustrate the fact that Pip has lost respect for Joe even though he was a father figure to him, this is all due to 1860s society portraying lower class as inferior.

Social hierarchy and control of environment

Pip further tries to exploit his control in the environment he's in - Dickens shows this by repeating the verb "pay" it's almost like Joe is a burden he's trying to pay off.

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Dickens' intelligent use of pathetic fallacy accentuates Joe's visit being a poor idea as "an angel could not have concealed the fact that Barnard was shedding sooty tears" One may consider the metaphor of Barnard "shedding sooty tears" as a criticism from Dickens alluding to the industrial revolution period at the time depicting the harsh conditions children such as himself worked in which is also seen in his novel 'Oliver Twist' showing Dickens' life in a chimney sweeper named Oliver.

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Dickens further illustrates Pip controlling his environment using a prop which is hat "Joe. Give me your hat. But Joe, taking it up carefully with both hands, like a bird's-nest with eggs in it, wouldn't hear of parting with that piece of property" This hat almost becomes a metaphorical barrier exhibiting the social hierarchy between Joe and Pip that Pip confides in - using a Marxist perspective one would argue that Pip should treat Joe the same regardless of his social status as he should know how hard Joe works and be appreciative of all he has done for him. In this scenario Joe is distinctly seen as awkward and is described by Dickens using the adjective 'uncomfortable' which he shouldn't feel as Pip should make him feel welcome in his home as Joe did for Pip when he was a boy.

Banks similarly presents this notion, through his main character of Frank. Frank controls his environment. Frank's isolation is because he enjoys living in desolation this is due to no one approving of his megalomaniac ways "Now all we have is the island, and that's pretty small, and hardly even an island at low tide" The adjectives "pretty small" intensify Franks joy as in a 'small' environment he can control everything easier. Banks' use of the hyperbole "hardly even an island" presents Frank's manipulation of where he lives although he has the freedom to live where he wants, he chooses to be segregated this is also mirrored in society as a person like Frank would never fit into society's expectations. Frank persists to explain how he chooses to not leave by proclaiming "I don't like leaving the island for that long, Eric. I'm sorry, but I get this horrible feeling in my stomach." Frank's continuous use of the personal pronoun 'I' reflects his self-centered nature which is also seen in Pip as they're both only concerned for themselves furthermore we see Frank showing signs of anxiety as depicted by the adjective 'horrible' this links to mental health and how perhaps people at the time don't take mental health seriously this is also seen in contemporary society however our society is much more open about mental health reduces the stigma.

Bank's sustains Frank's control by allowing him to be alone as he "found an opportunity to get rid of Paul" the monosyllabic phrase "get rid of Paul" is an exact reflection of how Frank felt no emotion towards Paul, his younger brother therefore having no problem with getting 'rid' of Paul for him to maintain his solitude. Franks Orwellian personality of being destructive to society is additionally presented by Banks "I don't bother people and they had best not bother me if they know what's good for them." The colloquial phrase "they had best not bother me" is an evident portrayal of Franks youth and susceptibility to harm and lack of understanding that is will be detrimental for his mental health so be in a completely isolated society subsequently readers may see his lack of exposure in the world as his Achilles heel likewise Pip's Achilles heel would be him becoming a gentleman and his dismissal of his past as a "Blacksmith's boy" both characters try to employ their environment in order to get away from things they don't want in their lives for Frank its people and for Pip it's his past.

Parental control

Dickens and Banks alike present the conceit of control however on this occasion it's evidently parental control as Winkler suggests "Angus manipulates knowledge to maintain control over Frank" this "manipulation" is also seen in Dickens' 'Great Expectations' through Miss Havisham controlling Estella - Dickens' allows Miss Havisham's authority over Estella because of her failed marriage. Miss Havisham's persona is vindictive towards all men as her fianc? was a con artist and took all her money and left her at the altar hence Miss Havisham manifested a need to control which she took out on Estella, Estella unaware of this asks her "What would you have?" "love" replied the other. "You have it" "I have not" said Miss Havisham." The monosyllabic phrase "I have not" emphasises the pain Miss Havisham has experienced as she has completely detached any emotion, she feels from the lack of love she has. Subsequently the reader could argue she manipulates Estella to torture boys to fulfill her sadistic desire we see this when she tells Estella to torture Pip "You may kiss me, if you like" the personal pronoun "you" displays Miss Havisham's behavioural conduct over Estella as it is explicitly clear she would like to kiss Pip although she knows that if she carried out that action she would be disobeying Miss Havisham thus she invites Pip to kiss her.

Using a psychological perspective Miss Havisham is dissatisfied in her life - one would claim she hasn't achieved belonging needs in Maslow's hierarchy of needs hence she can't be completely satisfied. Miss Havisham further explains how she controls Estella "I stole her heart away and put ice in its place". The verb "stole" her heart stereotypically connotes to love however Dickens demonstrates the opposite as the metaphor of "ice" connotes to being heartless and unempathetic. However, Estella internalises Miss Havisham's teachings as she proclaims "I have no heart.... if that has anything to do with my memory" the use of the personal pronouns "I" and "my" affirm Estella's selfishness and how she only thinks of herself, the is evidently due to Miss Havisham as she is the one who raised Estella. Dickens then allows Estella to have control over Pip. Pip continues to believe that Havisham is his benefactor when she is not this may be due to the lack of control she possessed over men previously so she asserts this anger and control over Pip as he is vulnerable consequently Pip doesn't know the true identity of his benefactor and he possibly gains more respect for Miss Havisham as he thinks she was the reason for him becoming a gentleman this shows Miss Havisham's desperate attempt to save control in her life vicariously through Pip.

Manipulating knowledge

Evidently Estella's personality is due to Miss Havisham's "manipulation" this is similar to Frank's personality as this conceit of control is also presented by Banks considering his persona of Angus, who Winkler argues "manipulates knowledge to control Frank". Angus has been controlling Frank his entire life which some would argue is the role of a parent - to control their children but Angus abuses his power as the parental figure to the point where he changes Frank's identity from female to male and further deprives Frank from education in order to acquire control over Frank by not placing him in the legal system so along with Frank having no choice in his actual identity as male of female he has no legal identity too. Frank does declare that "It does occur to me sometimes. My dad's an eccentric·I suppose I am, too." The adjective "eccentric" exaggerates the fact that Agnus is unconventional and doesn't fit societies standards of normal which one could argue, is why Frank also seems "eccentric" as displayed by the repetition of the personal pronoun "I". Although it is indisputable to see that Angus' control has magnified due to the loss of his wife and then due to the loss of Eric's sanity, Angus also sees the monster he has created because of Frank "Sometimes I think you're the one who should be in the hospital, not Eric."

The noun "hospital" is ironic as Angus controlled Frank due to the lack of control he had in his previous relations with Agnes and Eric, yet his science experiment of Frank represents a monstrosity, Banks' choice of making his novel gothic is significant as it was a typical theme for a novel to have in the 1960's this is also seen in the likes of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" who also follows the path of artificial intelligence that turned violent due to a science experiment gone wrong suggesting that as humans we are flawed. Banks' character of Angus has a loss of control over Eric's descent into madness and Agnes leaving him which ignites a need to control in Angus which is parallel to Dickens' character of Miss Havisham who has a need to control, manifested due to her failed relationship but because Miss Havisham and Angus both controlled their children's future Angus is to blame for why Frank is seen as a megalomaniac and Miss Havisham is to blame for why Estella is becomes heartless. However, one could argue that although parents influence a child's life it is also the child's free will to carry on behaving in that way or to stop hence Miss Havisham and Angus aren't fully to blame for their children but only partly to blame.

Pip's high-class status

Finally, both Dickens and Banks further convey this concept of control through manipulating truth and keeping knowledge over the characters. Dickens displays this control over truth by Pip not allowing his character of Pip to know his benefactor. Pip presumed his benefactor was Miss Havisham as she was the only person who he knew that held a high-class status and that could provide for him to be a gentleman in London. This belief was further assured by Pip's best friend Herbert who argued that "if I had come out of it successfully, I suppose I should have been provided for" The adverb "successfully" aids Pip's beliefs that Miss Havisham is his benefactor and she is educating him so he can eventually marry Estella.

One can argue Herbert portrays a sign of envy as the imperative verb "should" suggests, although that is followed by the verb "suppose" which indicates uncertainty so Herbert could be implying how lucky Pip was to be chosen by Miss Havisham for Estella. This leads Pip to believe that he "felt he [Herbert] as perfectly understood Miss Havisham to be my benefactress, as I understood the fact myself" Dickens uses the ironic adjective "perfectly" as Pip considers his situation to be perfect for his future as he is provided for by Miss Havisham but when we find out that Magwitch is the true benefactor we see Pip becoming temporarily horrified showing just how powerful having control over the truth can be. It can be argued that Magwitch chooses to become Pip's benefactor as he wanted to give Pip the life he never had and was influenced by Pip trying to "assure him of [his] innocence". Pip is utterly shocked when he finds out that his actual benefactor is Magwitch this is because him becoming a gentleman is futile when a lower-class criminal has provided it all this exemplifies the control truth has when its manipulated as it doesn't mean anything to him when he finds out Magwitch has provided it for him. Pip's ungratefulness and unappreciation is emphasised when the reader finds out that Magwitch proclaims that "Look'ee here, Pip. I'm your second father. You're my son more to me nor any son. I've put away money, only for you to spend."

The multiple use of the personal and possessive pronouns "I'm" "my" are a representation of how Magwitch someone who has barely anything is willing to give all that he makes or all the little stuff he has to Pip, Dickens uses this as a microcosm for 1860's society to criticise the fact that the poor would have so little and yet give to one another whereas the rich had more than enough and yet refused to help those in poverty Dickens uses this criticism due to his father's debts and him being unable to pay them. Dickens' life is parallel to Pip's this could indicate how Dickens doesn't want people to be ignorant and arrogant like his persona of Pip. Although the control of the truth shocks Pip eventually, we see his persona's maturation as Jaggers had told him to "take nothing on appearances" which Pip realises at the end of the end of the novel.

We can see Pips bildungsroman throughout the three parts of Dickens' novel; Dickens intelligently uses the first part to show Pip as a child who doesn't judge and appreciates Joe's kindness and helps the convict, the second part shows Pip basing the value system on the social status a person has, the third and final part of the novel shows Pip's ultimate growth into accepting his uncle Joe and Magwitch for who they are regardless of their class which This shows how much Pip has changed and how much control the manipulation over truth had on him. Using a Marxist perspective, the reader would appreciate the fact that Pip has now matured hence become a true gentleman as a Marxist would argue that everyone regardless of class should be treated the same and seen to be on the same level as each other.

Refuse to release control

Similarly, to Dickens, Banks also conveys a concept of control through the manipulation of truth and how it effects the protagonist Frank. Winkler suggests that Frank's pessimistic views "came from her father or from the media." This controls Franks behaviour as President Thatcher at the time practised speaking in a deeper voice and wore only pant suits to display her masculinity and have power over the people, one could argue psychologically Frank could internalise her behaviour of thinking masculinity leads to strength as she is in a position of authority. Also, with the manipulation of the truth about him biologically being a woman as he wouldn't say that he "hates" women. As the readers we can see that the reason he hates women is due to the fact he thinks he has been "castrated", so he has no genitalia anymore therefore women "are a bit too close for comfort" for him. The noun "Comfort" is representative of how his relationship with women is troubled this is mainly due to society portraying women as inferior and his father hiding his real identity from him due to his mother Agnes leaving them. This is due to Angus believing that Franks castration would lead to him staying in his "adolescent state" forever.

Angus controlling the truth over Frank makes him suppose that he won't be able to "grow up and be a real man, able to make [his] way in the world" The adjective "real" almost creates a sense of sympathy and pathos for the readers due to him not knowing how to handle the truth he found out, furthermore one could argue that this sense of understanding and pity is also manifested due to Frank not being a legal citizen which he thinks is because his father is a "hippy-anarchist" but the readers can assume this is a result of Angus controlling Franks gender. When Frank finds out the truth about his actual identity he is presented with a "specimen jar" that has a "a lump of plasticine or wax" which is a replication of male genitalia. The metaphor of the "jar" is brilliantly used by Banks to demonstrate how Frank was trapped all his life by Angus refusing to release control over the truth and then when the "jar" breaks Franks is able to be free from any limitations his lack of masculinity provided as he accepted being a biological women in this we can see Franks maturation in not hating women which is parallel to Dickens' Pip who also maturates by accepting those of all classes.

Throughout the novel readers may have felt perplexed and annoyed at Franks behaviour but when realising all he has gone through and at the end when he finally matures Banks continues to create a sympathy for Frank as he has "need for reassurance and safety in a world which just so happened to treat [him] very cruelly at an age before [he] had any real chance of affecting it." Banks creates a sematic field of security by using the nouns "reassurance" and "safety" illustrating how Frank wants what everyone wants, some comfort and protection. Alternatively, one could argue that Franks actions cannot be justified due to him not knowing his identity, as he acts in a "furious, almost unthinking" manner which is unacceptable as it would allow him to proceed to live in a megalomaniac, frightening and sadistic way.

However, in the end Banks appears to present his main character of Frank to have maturated as he comes to terms with who he is and the fact that "Each of us, in our own personal Factory, may believe we have stumbled down one corridor, and that our fate is sealed" the metaphor of the "personal factory" is used by Banks to show that Frank has accepted his "fate" and that he realises that although he thought his destiny was set in stone, It actually isn't but it's more of what he makes of his life, as the noun "corridor" is representative of the different paths of life that can occur in anyone's life. Banks' main character like Dickens' main character eventually maturates and goes through a bildungsroman - a coming of age. Where Banks' character Frank maturates by realising that his density is up to him and not his identity Dickens' character Pip maturates by realising that all people are worthy not just those who are of the upper class.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Dickens and Banks about Control Through Manipulating Truth. (2019, Dec 01). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/dickens-and-banks-about-control-through-manipulating-truth-essay

Dickens and Banks about Control Through Manipulating Truth essay
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