The Victorian world does Dickens evoke in the novel Essay
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What sort of a picture of the Victorian world does Dickens evoke in the novel? The first experience of Pip’s that Dickens shares with us is his first encounter with Magwitch, an escaped convict bound with those infamous iron chains around his legs that haunt Pip for an extensive part of the novel. It appears that there was a lot of criminal activity around at that time, and crime plays a large part in the novel right from the first chapter.
To account for all the offences there were many penalties. Pip not only faces ‘tickler’ as his punishment at home repeatedly, but he is then terrified of being found out about stealing from Mrs Gargery by the police, because of the threat of the consequences. Though his punishment would not have been as severe as his imagination would invent, the possible punishments for people in that period must have scared him immensely.
He was always very aware of the Hulks near him (because of the gunshots), and he most likely knew about transportation and execution, as well as the threats that he had been given by Magwitch before, which could easily torment a young boy with a guilty conscience.
‘I fully expected to find a Constable in the kitchen, waiting to take me up. ‘ When Pip arrives in London, we then see how execution was far more common than nowadays and that it was more of an accepted punishment, and even a publicly open event.
In the novel there are also references to the gallows, hanging and whipping; all done explicitly, for spectators too. Even Pip is shocked when he finds out about this. ‘This was horrible, and gave me a sickening idea of London… ‘ Once Pip meets Jaggers, we see breaches in the whole system of justice as, if you have the money, it seems that you can often buy your innocence, especially when someone like Jaggers is prepared and unashamed to concoct lies and change the evidence for someone in court, just to win the case.
This unfair system gave an inequitable benefit to the wealthy and made it almost impossible for a lower class and poorer citizen to be proven innocent, and more obviously, it made it impossible to determine true justice in a case. Victorian society was very money orientated and materialistic, and I imagine that Dickens himself was very cynical about the structure of one’s life depending on your wealth, background, property and possessions. It worked out that the rich had endless advantages over the poor – they were able to get better education, jobs, respect and status.
Further more, as you were almost certainly given a higher opinion the wealthier you were, better services would be have been offered to those, and again they would, without hesitation, be given priority over the poor in any circumstance. The poor were more often than not very badly educated, and from the novel we can see that Joe was illiterate which was common for others like him. When Pip lived at the forge, he was only tutored very basically by Biddy. ‘I struggled through the alphabet as if it had been a bramble-bush; getting considerably worried and scratched by every letter. ‘