During those days. Therefore, the effects of

During the
Victorian era, Dickens wrote this story in 1860 even though it was set in the
1800s (Dickens,
1861). This
Victorian era started stretched from 1837 to 1901 – from the coronation of
Queen Victoria to her demise. The core emphasis of this story has been on the
virtues that were quite eminent at that time including respectability,
integrity, maintaining a family and sense of public duty. The period in which
Dickens wrote this novel can be regarded as the changing time. This is because
England was becoming a powerful force and was expanding worldwide. The economy
was also in a varying state to a trade-based and industrial. However, these
changes in terms of technological advancements also resulted in clashes with
religious and escalating social issues. Even though the production of the
factories was increased to a great extent due to machines, however, raw sewage
still spread all over the streets of London. People were also living in
dreadful situations as the banks of the Thames were lined by the slums.
Furthermore, work was enforced on children even between the ages of seven and
nine, who worked at a poverty wage for twelve hours a day.

In this paper, I
argue that Dickens’ novel Great
Expectations is brimming with the discourse of 1860s London. I will expound
the character of Pip in terms of his creation, interchangeability and
consumerism, and that how great deal of the discourse of 1860s London can be
learnt from this one character.

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As a consumer of the fruits
of Industrial Revolution, Pip gives a deep insight and reflection of what a
typical consumer was in those days. Therefore, the
effects of industrialization and consumerism in Britain have a true reflection
with the actions of Pip. This is because the abandonment of Pip of his own
family and agency has implications that, by the industrial revolution, in few
ways reflect the common societal shifts. As mass consumerism came due to mass
production, it also gave rise to the escalated rates of objectification of
individuals as consumers as well as exploitation of environment and people (Hagan, 1954). Both
British society and Pip do not succeed in resigning the complete implications of
those high consumption rates unless the adverse consequences start arising.
This stance can further be explained by tracing consequences of Pip’s lifestyle
and loss agency for those around him and himself. It is also paramount to trace
the means in which these consequences and actions have equivalents at the
bigger scale of the common people of Britain at that time. It is important to
show how Pip’s decisions can be taken into account as consistent with trends
illustrated in the Industrial Revolution of England. As soon as Pip sets on the
path set by Magwitch for him, his role as a consumer takes over. Status of Pip
as a consumer is acknowledged and observed by everyone around him. With Pip, we
may be able to perceive both the arc and creation of his life in terms of being
congruent with the Victorian society trends of that time more specifically
regarding his consumerism. We can again track here all the Industrial
Revolution’s undercurrent at Magwitch’s far-off hands in his creation.

British citizens,
with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, greeted numerous novel things
into their everyday routine – major construction projects, railroads, and
several other inventions that made their lives comfortable (Ketabgian, 2011). However, this comfort is deceptive because it conceals the
real consequences and cost of these cheaply and easily available products. This
scenario is also true for both the British society and Pip after acceptance of
sponsorship. This is because with disposable income, wealthy British citizens
were allured by the widely and new available products. On the other hand,
people who were involved in the process of production of those products were
allured by the amount of money they made by exploiting both environment and
people with no contemplation on the consequences. In other words, Pip was
allured by the wealth because he started off as an often-abused and poor boy,
whose destiny was in the profession of blacksmith (Paroissien, 2000). It must be taken into account that at
the start of the novel, he is living in a system of pre-industrial
apprenticeship. His course as a future blacksmith and overall contentment with
life is crushed after his introduction to luxury products at Satis house. These
conveniences and comforts do not satiate Pip, but instead he becomes a consumer
because he looks to attain that level of comfort too. Just as Pip is allured
for the acceptance of sponsorship because of the materialistic advantages that
were associated with it, a common British consumer is also attracted towards
those cheap and new goods with no consideration of the adverse consequences. In
other words, they also tried to take part in the consumer culture but instead
became objects of profit for the factories.

The Industrial
Revolution’s social and environmental toll is also reflected in the breakdown
of social relations of Pip. This is because in the consumption with no
contemplation of the adverse implications, Pip causes the destruction of much
of his ability to conduct his future and his own agency. It can also be taken
into consideration in the sense that by doing so, he actually loots from his
future. Therefore, parallels can be easily constructed between situations of
both British people of the Industrial Revolution and Pip. This is because due to
the construction of factory towns, all kinds of pollutions, such as the Great
Stink, became a menace (Rubinstein, 1993). And instead of addressing this issue,
more children were misled into pursuing careers as indentured workers in the
industries. As a result of it, many children died because of the cotton flu. So just like Pip,
British was also diminishing or stealing from its future – children (Houston, 1992). Hence, as the
damage was not realized by during the British Industrial Revolution, Pip also
did not realize it before and felt it only after he was completely entangled in
the plans of Magwitch.

It was the age of
industrial transformation when Dickens wrote this novel. The idea of machines
was one of the most predominant ideologies of that time. It was like a
transformation from a pre-industrial age to an industrial age. This can also be
examined in this novel by taking into consideration the character of Pip. This
is because this novel also shows Pip as someone who is enforced to work as a
machine that does not ask any questions and just keeps on doing what it is
supposed to do without having any ideals of self-esteem. There are passages,
here too, which paint parallels between machines and humans, reflecting
language shift inflicted by the Industrial Revolution. Describing individuals
in terms of mechanics is only a trivial deal from considering them in a
mechanical manner too. The way Pip is treated is not just in the manners of
machines, but he is also perceived as just an interchangeable fragment of a
bigger capitalist machine; his treatment is just like as if he was an organic
cyborg (Crawford, 1988). Pip begins as a person, who does not get treated like
an individual, but a machine – just like as if he was a not more than just a
part in the plan of other individuals; Herbert Pocket, Miss Havisham, and Abel
Magwitch. In effect, he is treated like an interchangeable fragment instead of
an integral or unique one. Pip realizes that he is only a portion, a part of a
product, in the plan of someone else in a traumatic and abrupt manner.

Pip’s creation
is, foremost and first, the reaction of Magwithc to the cruel actions of the
upper class of the Britain. This reaction is then continued by sustained
experiences of Magwitch in Australia with the upper class. Even though it is
the age of industrial revolution, but Magwitch does not purely create Pip
purely as a machine because was affiliated with sheep farming and did not
purely involve him in the industrial revolution that was going on during that
time in Britain. This can also be reinforced due to the fact that in his
attempts to Pip into a person who acts like a machine with no self-enlighten,
he is actually moving towards his “man-machine” thing via the lens of this
pre-industrial occupation (Gallagher,
1985). It must also be taken into
consideration that this sheep faming profession is also responsible for fueling
a huge segment of eleven factories in Britain. The Industrial Revolution
advances and strengthens the probability of perceiving individuals as tools of
commerce, and it was also evident from the Industrial Revolution that Britain
was going through. Children working at poverty wages for most part of everyday
are actually an example of using them as tools. Therefore, Pip gets treated
like an economic machine, a sheep by Magwich that reinforces his own success.

It can be concluded that a great deal of congruency
is present and can be observed between this novel and the Industrial Revolution
in the Britain. Each and every facet of Great
Expectations is brimming with the implications of that time and the
characters, more specifically Pip. Therefore, this paper has highlighted that
congruency in order to sketch its better and more concise image.

 

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