How effectively do Pip’s reactions to his first visit to London in chapter 20 of Great Expectations reveal Dickens’ own views on Victorian society? Use quotations and refer to the language and tone to make your points. Introduction In this piece of coursework I will be focusing on Great Expectations by Charles Dickens’. In this book it covers the rapid affects of visiting London for the first time on Pip’s (The main character) life. Pip who grew up in a small village realized that it would be difficult for him to become a gentleman there. His ambitions were to become a gentleman in order to impress the beautiful young Estella who spent a lot of time with Miss. Havisham.
Pip is trying to escape becoming a ‘common labouring boy’ as what Estella calls him (Page 57). In order to become a gentleman, Pip is hoping to find Mr. Jaggers, a lawyer, who lives in London. Mr. Jaggers was strictly under orders to visit Pip at his home in the village to tell him the important news that he has a job at his law firm. To prepare Pip for this job Mr. Jaggers gives Pip money to buy new clothes and says “there is already lodged in my hands a sum of money amply sufficient for your suitable education and maintenance” (Page 136). This money helped Pip to move to London in order to improve his life. This shows that Dickens view is that he felt wealth makes life easier and poverty makes life miserable.
Dickens’ initially describes London as a ‘metropolis’ (meaning a big city). The impression that this description has on Pip is making him feel very scared of “the immensity of London”. Pip’s first impression was that London was “rather ugly, crooked, narrow and dirty” (Page 157) but tried to cut the rather large city some slack. Pip concentrates of the immensity and the hackney coachman comparing his view on London to the life style he used to have in his village. The narrative voice throughout Great Expectations is Pip’s. The use of the first person (‘I’) makes the reader feel that he/she is to able to experience what the narrator is feeling, experiencing and thinking.
Dickens’ in this opening uses irony by describing London as ‘ugly, crooked, narrow and dirty’, but highlighting the fact that the ‘Britons’ felt that it was wrong to even think that London was the best of all of these things. This irony shows that Dickens’ does not believe that London or Britain is perfect. That London has positive aspects and negative aspects. Mr. Jagger’s office is described by the narrative voice as ‘dismal’, ‘dreadful’, and ‘deadly’. The use of these words tells the reader Pip’s view of the room was negative and found the room unbearable. Pip also describes the room as small, and containing odd objects like a rusty pistol, a sword in a scabbard, and casts of peculiar looking swollen faces. Dickens’ views on this is that the lawyers or middle class are intimidators.