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The Character of Mr. Jaggers in Great Expectations

The Character of Mr. Jaggers in Great Expectations

Mr. Jaggers plays a pivotal role in the novel, Great Expectations, written by Charles Dickens. We are first introduced to him in Chapter 11, where Pip encounters the rather condescending lawyer on the stairs of Satis House. Pip describes Mr. Jaggers as “a burly man of an exceedingly dark complexion.” We cannot help but notice that he is extremely pontificating, by virtue of him holding Pip’s chin and being almost sure that Pip was of “a bad set of fellows” although he had scarcely known Pip for two minutes.

Mr. Jaggers’ silent and terrifying ambiguity conjures mystery and enigma all around him. We find that very little is mentioned of his background and that he has no family. He is the epitome of callousness and displays the very least human feelings and affection. Through his desperate attempts to remain on the pedestal and away from social company, he is also Dickens’ classic example of isolationism, in line with the theme of Great Expectations. He fears that friendly relationships with others will inconvenience his professional work. Undoubtedly, we find him to be an extremely intelligent and capable lawyer of high calibre. It is he that saves both Molly and Magwitch from the gallows through his expertise. He is also the one who supposedly saves Estella from the misery of orphanhood. Although many may argue that he did her more harm than good by giving her to Miss Havisham, we cannot blame him for he thought “that here was one pretty child out of the heap who could be saved.”, which he did. By doing all this, he contributes effectively to the movement of the plot.

Nevertheless, we also observe that…

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…mphasizes that “If my advice had been asked, I should not have been here. It was not asked, and you see me here.” This demonstrates that at the very beginning, Mr. Jaggers looked down on Pip and did not consider him worth the money and effort.

Overall, Mr. Jaggers is a classic and exemplary embodiment of Victorian society. He is of paramount significance to the novel’s plot, but more so to the theme. He is connected to every part of the plot. Through him, we learn what Victorian society was really like – how it judged people, how it treated people and how cruel and unjust it was. Indeed, Mr. Jaggers is Dickens’ social message that a true gentleman with morals, human feelings and the spirit of justice was better than a “born gentleman” imbued with the social prerequisites of class and material wealth. This is what the theme of Great Expectations is essentially about.

The Success of Wemmick in Great Expectations

The Success of Wemmick in Great Expectations

Wemmick provides a complicated, yet interesting separation of his home life and work life. His home and work lives are as different in physical appearances as they are in personality differences. Many of his home habits allow him to express his care and decency, which contrasts with his mechanical work which lacks good value. Wemmick dedicates himself to separating the two so that he may keep his virtues intact while he works in the filth of Newgate. Wemmick is alone in his success of separation when compared to others such as Jaggers and Pip. Such dedication to keeping good values alive gives Wemmick so much integrity that he immediately becomes a favorite character.

The castle in Walworth has a drawbridge, a cannon, and a fountain. We see the effects of these defenses first when he raises the drawbridge “it was very pleasant to see the pride with which he hoisted it up and made it fast; smiling as he did so, with a relish and not merely mechanically”(229). He “relishes” or gains pleasure in the working of the drawbridge; as opposed to his mechanical office mode, he really smiles. With this first insight into Wemmick’s other side, a simple integrity is revealed. The cannon, named Stinger, is mounted upon “a separate fortress, constructed of lattice-work. It was protected from the weather by an ingenious little tarpaulin contrivance in the nature of an umbrella”(229). The latticework and umbrella cover express Wemmick’s imagination in planning the castle. Another of Wemmick’s contraptions is his fountain. A mill and a cork run it. The water splashes out enough that it lands on any viewer of the fountain, which the Aged greatly enjoys. He lists his skills and says “and …

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…s the victor in the battle of lifestyles, because his is definitely much more agreeable. In regards to Pip, he cannot separate his home life from his expectations. He is uncaring towards his family and doesn’t associate with them. He lives only in expectations as Jaggers does work. Only Wemmick succeeds in separating the two.

Those of us who are suffering from a work-centered life should look to Wemmick for inspiration. We can learn from him how to allow ourselves to be able to enjoy life at home, without sacrificing out integrity at the workplace. Wemmick attains a freedom to live life to the fullest and he does it with incredible integrity. He is alone in his success, all the other characters have failed miserably, and have been left unfulfilled.

Works Cited:

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Ed. Janice Carlisle.Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1996.

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