Essay about Magwitch from Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations."

Essay by BOSCO2000High School, 12th grade January 2003

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In Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, the convictable Magwitch may be branded evil and harmful by Victorian standards but turns out to possess many positive qualities. Always looked down upon by proper society, his low social status condemned him to the criminal class where he never learned to speak or act in a refined manner. First depicted as a hardened convict, readers soon see the kind man hidden behind his rough exterior. Magwitch took great pride in Pip while he worked in exile to make him a fine gentleman.

In the beginning of the novel, Magwitch is presented as a ravenous convict. Cut and bruised from his recent escape, he empties Pip's pockets and threatens great harm. Forcing Pip to steal food and tools for him, Magwitch also places fear in Pip to insure the job is carried out properly. When brought the food, Pip describes the eating method by comparing it to a large dog.

This early description of Magwitch shows a tough and callous criminal.

Magwitch's background makes him a character to pity. He never received advantages and people constantly looked down upon him because of his poor speech and clothing. Having no other choice, Magwitch had to steal to survive. Working for the well-spoken and guile Compeyson, Magwitch only followed orders. Magwitch received twice the punishment that Compeyson received at trial because he did not have the fine clothing or polished speech that Compeyson had. The verdict was made because the jury saw Magwitch as an old offender who acted in violent passion. The court believed the educated and well-dressed Compeyson had potential to become a good citizen. Receiving mercy from the court for his good character, they assumed Magwitch caused Compeyson to commit the crimes. This event illustrates how Magwitch's poor speech and clothing...