The book “Great Expectation” by Charles Dickens

Kimberly Lacson


June 5, 2018

The book entitled “Great Expectation” convey events and circumstances that represents the occurrence in Victorian period, same historical period where Charles Dicken wrote this book. It mainly emphasizes how crucial the social condition is and how inequitable is very common between the rich, who gain convenience to all social aspects and the poor, who are mistreated or disregarded at this time. Hence, it signifies that the book is a reflection to the social condition of this time.

In addition, Dickens provide example of the events happening particularly about social condition during Victorian period through this book. Those evidence on the book can be fortified by providing concrete evidence base on research and historical events. Social condition such as legal system, education and treatment of orphans are some pieces of evidence that describe this period and will be explain thoroughly.

Legal justice is one evidence that the book had discussed that represent this period that includes privilege for acquiring a lawyer, the standing of a poor man against a rich man on the court and the legalization of corporal punishment.

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Education also provide explanation and understanding about this period which can link to apprenticeship, privilege for public school and educational standard with accordance to teaching of the church. Treatment of the orphan also play a huge role in appending the social condition for it describes some of the huge characters of the story. This can be link how adoption of orphans happen, how orphans ended as criminals and how orphan women studied to teach private houses.

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Legal system is one of the social conditions of the time that reflects the book. According to research, 1 a cost of employing a lawyer put such cases out of the reach for the poor and attain by richest people. For instance, Jagger who plays the role as lawyer on the story ignore and neglect people who are poor just like Amelia, who inform about her bill, was ignored by Jagger and exclude himself from accountability for this. Another man came up to him talking about his home, but again, Jagger ignore him. No wonder Jagger turn his back to poor people because of their incapability to provide money (G.E, 153-154). Another historically based event, is where a 2 poor man has a little chance in the court against a rich man for they know that rich man’s word is better than the poor.

This events happen in the book where Magwitch, the convict and Compeyson, the rich man, turns out to stand against each other in the court. Compeyson’s counsellor elaborate how he show to be innocent by confronting his age and educational status against Magwitch who is old and uneducated. It turns out that the punishment is 14 years of prison to Magwitch but only 7 years to Compeyson (G.E, 312). .It shows how wealth is the basis for the judgement giving advantage to Compeyson and heavy bore for Magwitch. Another historical event that falls under the justice system is 3 showing corporal punishment at that time which is hanging by the neck if you committed murder, kidnapping, rape or treason. This scene can be found in the story where Pip, the main character, walk through the yard and saw some gallows for criminals to be hanged out from the debtor’s door (G.E, 151-152). It shows how cruel that death should be the penalty, knowing that the court or the justice gives more advantage to the rich but not the poor.

Education during the time also represent how the book reflects that the time. Ideally, 4 apprenticeship during this time was admirable for those who cannot afford schools. One example is where Pip become of the apprentice of Joe and work as a blacksmith in the forge (G.E, 97). Another historical events is where a 5 rich children that are lucky to have their nanny and send away to public school once they are older. For those who can afford public school like Mr. and Mrs. Pocket of the book, have a nanny for their children named Flopson and Miller and their child Herbert Pocket was send away to a public school and he is now educated man (G.E, 171). Again, another advantage and benefits of the rich people in dealing with the social condition at the time. Another historical research says, that 6 poor children are send to Sunday school run by churches where they can read a little and learn bible story. Another scene in the story where Pip hardly know how to read because of the catechism that bound him (G.E, 39) . An indication of how poor people should live their lives and how they adapt to the social condition such as this system to be educated and learn.

Lastly, treatment of orphans of this time is one of the most prominent example of how crucial the social condition is. Historical evidence says that 7 orphans are adopted by their immediate relatives. We can see from the book where Pip become an orphan adopted by her sister Mrs. Joe. Another historical evidence shows that 8 orphan who are not committed into educational center nor adopted will ended up as criminals like Magwitch. In this scene is where we can see orphan like Magwitch ended up as criminals, for he had to satisfy his necessity for food. He starts tramping, thieving and begging to get money (G.I, 317). Another historical research says, that 9 orphan women tend to train them to become some governesses or the one of teaches private homes. A slight advantage for the orphan to be educated and learn. In this case we can see, Biddy is trying to teach Pip how to read and write at his home (G.E, 40-41)

Those are the example of social condition from the book that is historically the same to the events that happen during the making and publication of the book “Great Expectation” by Charles Dicken. Evidence from the book that includes the legal or justice system, education and treatment of the orphan that mainly emphasizes cruelty and injustice among rich and poor people and make a substantial support from the historical research of the time. Hence, it signifies that the book linked, connects and reflect when the book is created during the Victorian period. This kind of social condition still reflects our recent time. Social condition such as injustice stands between rich and the poor providing more advancement to those who have money. In educational system also shows this mark of rich people over poor. people. How rich can afford to have advantage on their education and future career unlike poor people who could sometime cannot afford to go to school. Lastly, treatment of the orphans still need more support for the children to have a better life. In conclusion, social treatment demands a certain standard in economical status to gain respect and receive quality treatment.

Updated: Feb 22, 2024
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The book “Great Expectation” by Charles Dickens. (2024, Feb 20). Retrieved from

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