Great Expectations

Wemmick: Living Dual Existences in Victorian England

Through his novel Great Expectations, Charles Dickens emphasizes the perpetually domineering nature of 19th century England’s uncompromising class structure system. Dickens satirizes the socially vital and inflexible natures of this system through characters such as Mrs. Pocket, whose failure to realize her low-class status drives her to neglect her family and sensibility, and Mr. Pumblechook, who only respects main character Pip after he comes into a large inheritance. However, Dickens most effectively highlights the seriousness of one’s place in this society through Mr. Wemmick, whom Pip befriends in the novel’s second volume. Through this character, Pip learns not only how to separate the confinements of social stratification from a humble lifestyle, but also to appreciate the modest pleasures and lessons of his own “lowly” roots. Dickens uses Wemmick as a meaningful instrument to convey these important messages, and does so convincingly through his use of details to describe Wemmick’s home versus occupational lives, language to signify his change in tone between the two settings, and images to impart the extent to which Wemmick separates his different worlds.

Dickens, masterful in the arts of amusing and meaningful...

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