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Great Expectations

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

Society and Class Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

I had heard of Miss Havisham up town—everybody for miles round, had heard of Miss Havisham up town—as an immensely rich and grim lady who lived in a large and dismal house barricaded against robbers, and who led a life of seclusion. (7.80)

Pip's hometown is socially stratified. He lives in the "village," and Miss Havisham lives "up town." Apart from reminding us of a certain Billy Joel song, this delineation between the wealthy and working class in Kent is palpable and is reinforced by the gate that guards Miss Havisham's decaying riches. Also, notice that great privilege is closely linked to loneliness?

Quote #2

I wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so too. (8.92)

Yeah, well, Shmoop wishes its parents had been millionaires, too, but we all have to work with what we've got, Pip. Plus, do you really want your mom to be Miss Havisham? (Kind of a toss-up between her and Mrs. Joe, if you ask us.)

Quote #3

I took the opportunity of being alone in the court-yard, to look at my coarse hands and my common boots. (8.92)

It's like we're in the middle of a totally-against-regulations child psychology experiment. When Pip is alone, he examines the characteristics he's always possessed, but with the new frame and the new backdrop of Miss Havisham's world, these characteristics take on a whole new meaning. He becomes self-aware through his introduction to society.

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