The Role Of Magwitch In Great Expectations

Superior Essays
Who would you think would be a more sympathetic character, a habitual criminal or a renown member of the justice system? In the novel Great Expectations, the answer is not the one you would necessarily choose. This novel by Charles Dickens is centered around a poor boy named Pip who comes into great expectations of wealth by a mysterious benefactor, who turns out to be a lifer exiled to the new colonies named Magwitch. Because of this revelation, Pip struggles with the predicament of protecting Magwitch while trying to avoid the heavy hand of English “justice”. Throughout Dickens paint a picture of injustice,squalid descriptions, and the long lasting emotional traumas of the Victorian justice system he was exposed to in childhood though his …show more content…
Magwitch is set up as a violent monster when we first met him as he threatens seven-year old Pip at his parents’ grave but we grow to sympathise and even like Magwitch as we explore his character . As with many criminals, Dickens shows that we like to demonize the actions without understanding the circumstances. Magwitch was just stuck in a never ending cycle of poverty and violence that was born of his poverty and starvation leading to thievery. And that lead tried him and labeled him a troubled child when he was too young to understand the consequences of his actions.Much like the “witch” in his name, he is stamped with a permanent sort of scarlet letter and relentlessly hunted by the law. Eventually he got in legal trouble with a wealthy looking man named Compeyson who got a lighter sentence due to Magwitch being portrayed as a poor criminal and being “recommended to merely on account of good character and bad company”(Dickens 274). Then he had to suffer the isolation of the penal colonies where he was a “shepherd in a solitary hut, seeing no faces but faces of sheep” until he “half-forgot wot men’s and women’s faces wos like”(Dickens 251). In search for comfort Magwitch describes hallucinating Pip and having conversations with him. It is evident that Dickens pays special attention to the aspect of isolation with his characters Magwitch and Miss Havisham. Caravantes also explores this aspect …show more content…
The characters that he creates offer a sort of caricature of the ideas and institutions he wants to explore, like how Jaggers is a comment on the greed and corruption of members of the court or how Magwitch represents the poor youth and the cycle of imprisonment impressed upon them by a biased system. Vivid descriptions play a role too, like how he describes the horrid things in Jagger’s office and the overall gloom of everything relating to the law makes the reader see the awfulness of it all. With the role of the Justice System in Great Expectations one could say is related by his atrocious treatment by it.. So do you think the modern Justice System has grown past its biases or remains all too similar to Dickens Victorian

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