Themes of GE

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    • Guilt, crime and innocence
      • The theme of crime and punishment is represented by the characters of Magwitch and Jaggers. This theme always seems to surround Pip from an early age, in particular, when he met Magwitch in the graveyard.
        • The imagery of crime and criminal justice pervades the book and it becomes an important symbol of Pip's inner struggle to reconcile his own conscience with the institutional justice system
        • At the end of the novel, Pip discovers Magwitch's inner nobility and is able to disregard his external status as a criminal.
      • The theme of innocence is explored by Dickens through characters such as Biddy, Joe and the Aged P and even young Pip.
        • Joe and Biddy stick to their religious morals and beliefs and become content with their simple but innocent life. The Aged P is deemed innocent because he has no idea of the corrupt outside world, he is kept safe by the strong walls of the castle
      • The theme of crime and punishment taints Pip wherever he goes- allows his guilt to stem from this
        • Dickens convincingly depicts the oppressive sense with which guilt can lie on the young mind. When pip steals for Magwitch, he is unable to tell Joe because he feels the will lose Joe's unconditional love
        • the narrator pip is uncomfortable with the way he treated Joe and Biddy and thus he is confessing almost apologizing in retrospect due to his guilt
    • Ambition and self improvement
      • Moral message of GE: affection, loyalty and conscience are more important than social advancement, wealth and class.
        • It's the main reason for the title because Pip seeks and has desire for self  improvement, he believes in the possible advancements in life
      • Pip intends to improve himself morally and socially, as he fantasies about becoming a gentleman, which provides Dickens to gently satirize the class system of his era and to make a point about its capricious nature
      • A "Pip" is a small seed that starts of tiny and then grows and develops into something new.
          • through the humbling experiences of trying to improve himself, Pip comes to understand self improvement as a more comples process involving moral and spititual development as well - not just education and upper class mannerisms etc.
    • Social class
      • Dickens explores the class system of Victorian England throughout the novel, ranging from convicts (Magwitch) the peasants (Biddy and Joe) and to the upper class ( Estella and Ms H). Pip doesn't actually belong to either - as he distances himself from the peasants and tries to be upper class. This links to the idea of his lost sense of identity because he feels like he doesn't belong anywhere
      • pip realizes towards the end of the novel that one's social class is in now way linked to one's real character. Constructs such as Drummle and Magwitch who are binary opposites of each other- proves this to him
      • GE is set near the end of the industrial revolution where new opportunities were created, allowing people who were bron in "lower class" to gain wealth and move into higher classes. Dickens explores this social mobility through Pip's ascent of the class system
      • Estella is vicitimised by her social class- Dickens conveys, using Estella's life to reinforce the idea that one's happiness and wellbeing are not deeply conected to one's social position


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