Key Themes

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  • Key Themes
    • Self Knowledge
      • Pip rejects his working-class origins at the forge and wants to become a gentleman
        • when apprenticed to Joe, he realised his time spent at the Satis House had changed his opinions
          • ‘had a strong conviction on me that I should never like Joe’s trade’ Ch. 13, p. 103
      • Pip is given wealth, taught table manners and how to speak in a different way
        • he loses his kindness and humanity in the process
      • through hardship, loss and Joe’s kindness, Pip realises the emptiness of his ambitions
      • Joe is a character who does not change
      • Estella goes on a journey of self-knowledge, but she is aware of what she is doing
        • she makes the mistake of thinking that she cannot be hurt by such a destructive way of life
          • Estella’s experiences with Drummle make her realise what she lost by rejecting Pip’s love
    • Class/Wealth and Power
      • Class/Wealth
        • peasants
          • Joe and Biddy
        • middle class
          • Pumblechook
        • criminals
          • Magwitch
        • very rich
          • Miss Havisham
        • Moral theme of the book
          • Pip’s realization that wealth and class are less important than affection, loyalty, and inner worth
            • he finally understands that social status is not someone's real character
          • even though Magwitch is a convict, he has a deep inner worth
        • based on the post-Industrial Revolution model of Victorian England
          • Dickens ignored nobility and hereditary aristocracy where characters fortunes had been earned
          • Miss Havisham’s family fortune was made
            • Miss Havisham is brought up as a ‘spoilt child’ whose ‘father denied her nothing’ (Ch. 22, p. 174)
            • Compeyson plotted against her with her half-brother to take the proceeds from the sale of the brewery
      • Power
        • Miss Havisham uses her wealth as a tool to upset her grasping relatives and Estella to get her revenge on the men
        • Drummle has wealth but is a brutal and ignorant bully, as his aristocratic background gives him the freedom to behave as he does
        • Jaggers has great power in the legal world but is unmarried and is feared by those around him
        • love and kindness shown by Herbert, Clara, Wemmick and Joe, bring happiness in the novel
    • Pride and Revenge
      • Miss Havisham feeds the destructive forces by keeping the reminders of her humiliation and betrayal around her
        • being deserted by Compeyson is tied up with her pride, and leads to the ‘wild resentment’ that takes over her life (Ch. 49, p. 390)
      • ‘Mr Havisham was very rich and very proud. So was his daughter’ (Ch. 22, p. 174)
      • Orlick vows to take revenge for what he sees as injustices
        • he attacks Mrs Joe in revenge for Pip being made an apprentice
          • his pride is hurt because he sees Pip being given a lifetime trade
          • Orlick joins with Compeyson and attempts to murder Pip
      • Magwitch is driven by pride and the need for revenge on Compeyson who used his wealthy background to avoid punishment
        • readers may find Magwitch’s desire for revenge easy to understand, even though it leads him to desperate acts

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