by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations Criminality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
While my mind was thus engaged, I thought of the beautiful young Estella, proud and refined, coming towards me, and I thought with absolute abhorrence of the contrast between the jail and her. (33.46)
Estella is pretty, the jail is not. Estella wears perfume, the jail doesn't. Estella has nice clothes, the jail doesn't, etc., etc., etc. We get it. They're different. But when we think about it, Estella and the jail would probably hit it off pretty well on a blind date. Remember how Estella was always the gatekeeper when Pip was little? Remember how inaccessible and untouchable Estella is to Pip? Remember how Pip wants to become a gentleman and to be accepted by society in order to please Estella?
I cautioned him that I must hear no more of that; that he was not at all likely to obtain a pardon; that he was expatriated for the term of his natural life; and that his presenting himself in this country would be an act of felony, rendering him liable to the extreme penalty of the law. (40.96)
Jaggers, who is a beacon of truth and lawfulness, lays out very clearly the reasons why Magwitch should not return to England. And the way he phrases it, we have to agree: Magwitch should definitely not ever return to England. The problem? The legal system is broken. Why should Magwitch have to obey a corrupt system?
"Dear boy and Pip's comrade. I am not a-going fur to tell you my life, like a song or a story-book. But to give it you short and handy, I'll put it at once into a mouthful of English. In jail and out of jail, in jail and out of jail, in jail and out of jail. There, you got it. That's my life pretty much, down to such times as I got shipped off, arter Pip stood my friend." (42.1)
Magwitch is distinctly aware of the power of storytelling and the power of framing a story in a certain way. He can himself distill his life's story down to a very nice one-liner (compact and travel-sized too), "in jail and out of jail." He knows that the world loves these compact, travel-sized descriptions of people. But he also, without even seeming to mean it, helps us think that maybe not all criminals are born that way.