Describe an Important Setting in the Novel Great Expectations Essay

Describe an important setting in the novel. London. An important setting in “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens is London, which is viewed as a place of economic competition and death. The bleakness of the places in London foreshadow a series of unfortunate events for Pip Dickens did not romanticize London but instead gives us a good hard look at the backstreets and alleys where the real life existed. An important setting in the novel Great Expectations is London this setting reveals important themes in the novel such as loyalty and conscience are more important than social standing and wealth.

By establishing Pip’s low standing as an apprentice black smith and his wish for upper class status. Mr Jagger’s arrival gives him the chance to advance with his move to London and a convoluted journey for Pip begins. London is an important setting because when Pip gets there he befriends a young gentleman, Herbert Pocket. Pip expresses disdain for his former friends, and studies law under Mathew Pocket, which is Herbert’s father and learns to “act like a gentleman”. Herbert gives Pip the nickname “Handel” which wryly refers to a musical piece about a blacksmith (a man of lower class).

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This shows that Pip can not escape his past. Magwitch reappears in London and Pip learns he is the secret benefactor not Miss Havisham as Mr Jaggers led him to believe. Pip is appalled but feels bound to help Magwitch flee London. Magwitch is pursued by police and Compeyson. A complicated mystery begins to fall into place when Pip discovers Compeyson is the man who left Miss Havisham at the altar and Estella is Magwitch’s Daughter. The setting of London is shown here by Dickens’ use of symbolism shown here with a description of the terrible gallows of Newgate Prison which gives Pip “a sickening idea of London”.

The emphasis on the relationship between character and setting means Pip encounters objects of punishment and justice everywhere. Beneath the desire to become a gentleman Pip is torn between the ideas of guilt and innocence and moral obligation going back to his first meeting of convicts on the marsh. Pips new acquaintances are unlike his former friends e. g. Jaggers is hard and cold yet he scrubs his hands violently at the end of each day as symbolic of trying to remove the taint of his work.

When Joe visits London his meeting with Pip is awkward and strained because Pip worries that Joe will disapprove of his lifestyle and that his friends will look down on him because of Joe’s lower class. Pips rise in social status in the setting of London, which is followed by a decrease in his confidence and happiness. The social contrast theme is shown by Joes visit. The setting of London is shown here by the news of Mrs Joes death this marks an important point in the development and maturity of his character.

On Pips journey home to the desolate marshes of Kent Pip is frightened by the convicts on the stagecoach who remind him of his encounter with Magwitch and Compeyson. His return to Satis House as a gentleman is a complete failure, Estella treats him as cruelly as ever. Again he feels guilty about his behaviour and promises to rectify this but his friends are sceptical. As he leaves again “walking into rising mists” which symbolise ambiguity and confusion Pip knows he is unlikely to honour his promise.

Dickens uses symbolism with the “dark, foggy, dank, depraved” references showing Pip the underbelly of London not the light cheery vision that Pip has. It reveals the similarities of London and his old home in the language used to contrast the Barnard’s Inn (his lodgings in London) compared to the Blue Boar (his home town Inn) shows the “grass is not always greener”. The setting in London is important as it expands on themes set early in the book where many elements are mirrored at some other point e. g. wo convicts on the marsh, two invalids (Mrs Joe, Miss Havisham), two young women that Pip is interested in (Estella and Biddy). It adds to the sense that everything in Pips world is connected. Dickens helps us understand the settings by use of this symmetry. The importance of the setting of London shows Pips “life education” contrasts with Bentley Drummle (a minor character) who has inherited a large fortune, Pip has formed an opinion that upper class has no connection to moral worth or intelligence.

Drummle’s negative examples help Pip see the inner worth of characters like Joe and Magwitch. London life helps him mature and gives him a new understanding of compassion and realism as apposed to the fantasies of a better life he originally yearned for. Overall the setting of London shows the struggle of the nineteenth centuries preoccupation with the social, political and economic dominance of the middle class.


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