Magwitch’s Signifigance in Great Expectations - Sample Essay

Magwitch thought that Pip was a pathetic child who could not be trusted, but when he returned with the food and files he would have trusted him and start to like him when Pip says he is glad he has enjoyed the food. When Magwitch reappears in Chapter 39 revealing that it was he that sent Pip the money, making him rich. He did so because he was grateful for Pip’s kindness and thinks that money will give him status and therefore power, The Reader may consider whether the money was ever actually a good thing. As an adult the money have made him smug because he isn’t used to living life as a rich person.

It makes him think he’s a better person. He uses it to try and gain Estella’s respect. He turns his back on his family. Eventually he becomes unhappy, which is ironic because Magwitch only had good intentions. Pip’s resent towards Magwitch when he first comes back and that he was the money sender may be because of this. But when Magwitch appears in court it becomes more and more obvious that Pip wants to treat him with respect. This is brave of him because as rich person with high social status you are not expected to be friends with a working class convoy.

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Although Dickens may not have intentionally done so every time, there are frequently similarities between Magwitch and other characters, which not only give us different ways to interpret the story but also can also simply help readers understand the characters better. Early on in the novel we begin to compare Magwitch to Pip. Pip is obviously terrified of Magwitch but the way Pip is threatened by him so fiercely almost makes it seem as if he is fearful himself. Both Pip and Magwitch experience the feeling of desperation but they deal with it in different ways.

Pip knows that his life depends on bringing Magwitch the food and the file but he appears rushed and slightly impatient, because he takes the wrong turn. Magwitch is patient; he appears to have been waiting all night for the food. When he has the food, however he shows great desperation in the way he rushes through it. Magwitch later shows himself to be loyal because he returns and sends him money. Pip has almost forgotten about him and seems ungrateful on the other hand. At this point in a way they are both rich, yet Magwitch has earned the money himself, when Pip does nothing to become the way he is now.

We are able to make comparisons with Magwitch and other characters now because we are further on in the book. Like him, Joe is loyal towards Pip, despite being treated badly. They both remain working class throughout the story and are both very hard workers. Like Magwitch, Miss Haversham has a person taken form her. This impacts their lives greatly. They try to almost substitute this person by teaching them things in life and giving money. And unfortunately for the two of them, it does not make these people happy. From the start of the book they both have an association of death and hanging.

The deaths of these characters occur within the story. There are certain themes in the book that reappear and are connected to one another. Betrayal is an important theme, it occurs when Pip is ungrateful at Magwitch’s return, and when Estella’s marries a man who does not actually love her. Another theme is secrecy, like Magwitch and Molly’s affair resulting in Estella. As many other stories, love is an important theme in the book whether it is between family members; like Joe’s love for Pip and Magwitch’s love for Pip and Miss Haversham’s love for Estella or love between partners; like Molly and Magwitch’s affair and Pip’s love of Estella.

Dickens tries to convey his views about crime and punishment in Great Expectations having endured unlawful punishment in his earlier life. In the novel it can be interpreted as both a good and bad thing. On the one hand it seems cruel and unlawful because the law does not always take account of the individual needs of a case. Readers would have seen this in Chapter fifty-four when Magwitch is arrested. We know that he has transformed from genuinely being a troublemaker to becoming a better person.

We may already feel sorry for him because of Pip’s reaction when he comes back but for society to consider him guilty when what he really deserves is a thank-you makes it all the worse. Dickens tries to show that crime can be committed lawfully in a number of situations like for life and death (Pip stealing the food and file) for loved ones (Magwitch’s return) and for reputation (Pip’s debt after trying to impress Estella with the clothes. On the other hand the law is shown to have it’s good points too. After all, it is used to keep everybody in order and ensure people live in a safe environment.

One example is when Pip gets into trouble for his debt. It puts him back in his place and so he can realise that he should stop being greedy with his money- Pip gets into debt trying to impress Estella with the clothes. Readers could think it was a sign for him to realise that he should stop chasing after her. Getting into trouble for committing a crime can teach you a lesson, and the ability to change and become a better person in society may even be better than always achieving things at the same rate throughout your life.

Magwitch was the person at the start who was breaking the laws and so on yet by the end of the book he has shown himself to be possibly one of the loveable characters in the novel. Another important theme in the novel is the idea of social status. There was great variation in wealth and status in the time at which Great Expectations was written yet even within people with of the same range of wealth there were noticeable differences. Neither Pip nor Magwitch are rich yet at least Pip has a house and is told by Magwitch that he had ‘fat cheeks’.

We learn also that working class in those days were hard workers and always had determination whether it meant to have a decent way of living or simply by means of survival. The book shows that you can earn money but not necessarily be rich and interestingly you do not have to earn any money to become rich and have a high status. In the end, this may not be good for either person. We realise this when Magwitch earned many riches but gave it all to Pip, who had not worked at all. Readers may feel that it was Magwitch who deserved the money. Language is an important element to the novel.

In the first chapter we get the impression that Pip is talking about himself as a child, because he refers to himself as being ‘childish’ and ‘small’ and it sounds as if the scene was remembered in an exaggerated way. This already gives readers the impression that he is altogether unsure about himself. Magwitch comes on to the scene using dialogue-in a short and abrupt sentence shocking Pip and the reader. In the paragraph that Pip is describing Magwitch, the sentences become longer and longer giving the impression that he is increasing in fear as he becomes more aware of him.

Despite all this, there is an element of humour. The fact that Pip is in a graveyard and he is being threatened to be killed is ironic and the image of a little boy being rocked backwards on a gravestone with every sentence is sort of symbolic, certainly humorous. When Pip hurries to bring back the food later on, he almost believes that the animals like the cow know that he is stealing. This use of exaggeration is not because Pip is trying to show off about the story, but because he is very fearful. This makes the readers feel sorry for him. Pip finds Magwitch still ‘hugging himself and limping’.

Use of repletion gives the effect that Magwitch is desperate and patient. Imagery is used when Magwitch eats. Pip compares the way Magwitch devours his food to a dog, illustrating that he is bad mannered and hungry but also, in a way thankful that he has the food. Pip is quite observant of Magwitch to be like this, so he may already be starting to like him. There is often the use of pathetic fallacy associated with Magwitch. When we are first introduced to him it is rainy and just before he appears later in the book Pip describes the bad weather; how it is wet, muddy and cold.

Pip has no idea who the mystery person is but the reader may be able to identify him as being Magwitch because of his familiar dialogue and abrupt, simple sentences. It is ironic how Magwitch’s good intentions only made Pip more miserable than he should have been, even though it was he who may have saved Magwitch’s life at the start. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Great Expectations section.

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