Social Sensitivity

Dickens treats a variety of social issues in Great Expectations-prejudice, materialism, social status, and class-in a sensible manner that the teacher, librarian, and parent will undoubtedly applaud. The author’s presentation of these issues offers young readers an understanding of social situations, guidance for their future roles in society, and a vision of the “good life.”

Pip is the vehicle selected for transmitting social values. After a series of mistakes, he perfectly exemplifies the achievement of maturation and proper adjustment to society. At first, Pip is presented sympathetically as a poor orphan boy. But when transformed into an English gentleman, he adopts many unpleasant traits. He becomes a parasite on society, useless, snobbish, and indolent. He thinks of the “good life” primarily in terms of social status and material possessions. He forgets who his true friends are. But when he finally learns the true origins of his wealth, he undergoes a profound and salutary reformation: sloughing off false values and returning to his old friends.

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