Magwitch Character Analysis

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Who would you think would be a more sympathetic character, a habitual criminal or a renown member of the justice system? In the novel Great Expectations, the answer is not the one you would necessarily choose. This novel by Charles Dickens is centered around a poor boy named Pip who comes into great expectations of wealth by a mysterious benefactor, who turns out to be a lifer exiled to the new colonies named Magwitch. Pip struggles with the predicament of protecting Magwitch while trying to avoid the heavy hand of English “justice”. Dickens paint a picture of injustice,squalid descriptions, and the long lasting emotional traumas of the Victorian justice system he was exposed to in childhood though his cartoonish characters, vivid descriptions,…show more content…
Magwitch is set up as a violent monster when we first met him as he threatens seven-year old Pip at his parents grave but we grow to sympathise and even like Magwitch as we explore his character . As with many criminals, Dickens shows that we like to demonize the actions without understanding the circumstances. Magwitch was just stuck in a never ending cycle of poverty and violence that was born of his poverty and starvation leading to thievery. And that lead tried him and labeled him a troubled child when he was too young to understand the consequences of his actions. Eventually he got in legal trouble with a wealthy looking man named Compeyson who got a lighter sentence due to Magwitch being portrayed as a poor criminal and being “recommended to merely on account of good character and bad company”(Dickens 274). Then he had to suffer the isolation of the penal colonies where he was a “shepherd in a solitary hut, seeing no faces but faces of sheep” until he “half-forgot wot men’s and women’s faces wos like”(Dickens 251). In search for comfort Magwitch describes hallucinating Pip and having conversations with him. Dickens pays special attention to the aspect of isolation with his characters Magwitch and Miss Havisham. Caravantes also explores this aspect of Dickens in his quote about isolation “How much I suffered it is ...utterly beyond my power to tell”(12). With Magwitch dickens captures the biases of the courts, the cycle of imprisonment, and inhumane punishments of the Victorian justice
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