Great Expectations

Great Expectations: In the Name of Profit

The fledgling years of post-industrial Britain were tumultuous ones, as are the beginnings of all eras that dismantle century-old beliefs and traditions. It was the advent of capitalism, signifying endless opportunities for wealth through industry and commerce. However, this new system also made immorality a common stepping-stone to success; crime, exploitation, and dishonesty became the tools of the nation's trade. An absence of government regulation and thus an absence of limits brought prosperity to new heights, and suffering to new depths. While capitalism, glorified by philosophers such as Adam Smith, was a near-utopian structure in theory, the reality, particularly in London, was far from perfect. In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens criticizes the ideals of capitalism by depicting its plagues, actually and symbolically, in the lives of his characters. Through their fates and motives, the afflictions of the new socio-economic order become clear: the segregation of the classes, the erosion of morals, and the alienation of feelings.

One of the most fundamental, most often-hailed principles of capitalism is that it affords everyone the equal opportunity to obtain wealth. This principle is fully embodied in Great...

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