Charles Dickens gained contemporary literary recognition for writing several novels that not only narrated compelling stories, but also examined the deep social inequalities of his era. With a number of his novels Dickens brought attention to the troubles of the working underclass in Victorian England, and suggested ideas of repairing the gap of social injustice. Of all of his works, however, Great Expectations certainly stands alone in its pairing of social critique and social commentary.
In the beginning the reader only sees a simple description of the problematic life of an orphan during Victorian England. Dickens developed Pip as the narrator and protagonist of Great Expectations which helps the reader to understand the critique expressed with the novel. Through Pip's eyes, the reader sees clearly the economic gap between rich and poor, and the social split between the upper and lower classes. More important, since Dickens describes Pip's struggle to climb that socioeconomic ladder through education and self-improvement, the reader begins to grasp the fundamental social injustice of such societal inequality. .
After reading the novel and giving some deeper thoughts to it, I asked myself the question of whether Dickens issues of social inequalities are still valid in the 21st century. With my understanding of society I would basically think this kind of social prejudice and unfairness remains valid today but not in such intensity as in Dickens period. .
It is an unfortunate but fundamental aspect of human society that there must always be those with more and those with less. This truth is greatly demonstrated by 19th century Europe. As Great Expectations begins, Pip has become very aware of the basic social inequality that surrounds him, and which deeply affects his life even though he is still a child. .
As he tries to catch Estella's attention, Pip shows both an immature idealism and a cynical perception beyond his years.