Article Analysis: The Role of Family Essay Example

In Victorian England, “The Victorian family was considered to be an extremely valuable part of everyday life” ("Victorian Era Family Daily Life in England"). The article “Victorian Era Family Daily Life in England,” states that the father in the household’s job was to be the main, if not only wage provider. The mother, however, “ ... rarely worked, she would not spend her time cooking or washing clothes. Instead, she planned the dinner parties and squandered much of her time effectively instructing the children of the home's core values ”("Victorian Era Family Daily Life in England").

The parents’ principal job in the children's lives was to ensure they were instructed properly; even though the children spent most of their time with a nanny ("Victorian Age Life of Family, Children, Society"). Children would honor their parents' wishes by listening to their rules. Along with the article, “Victorian Age Life of Family, Children, Society”, there are many examples of the impact family possessed on character’s life in Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. One of the aforementioned examples comes in chapter twenty-two and another at the end of the book in chapter fifty-nine.

Life During That Time

In the article “Victorian Age Life of Family, Children, Society,” they explain what life was like for the people of the time. During this time, most girls married between the ages of 18 and 23 (“Victorian Engagement”). Furthermore during this time, after they were completed with their education, most girls, “... stayed at home with their mothers. They were expected to find a suitor to wed as soon as possible” ("Victorian Age Life of Family, Children, Society"). Girls were allowed to select who they dated, but their father received the final decision on if the man dating their daughter was “good enough.” If they believed he was the father could grant him his daughter's hand in marriage ("Victorian Age Life of Family, Children, Society").

After a man was granted a girl's hand in marriage he had to propose, and it was preferred if he did so in person. While proposing, he had to be clear with his intentions so that the bride-to-be was not to have misunderstood them. If he could not convey himself to propose in person, he was allowed to propose in writing, though, as stated before, it was preferred that he proposed in person (“Victorian Engagement”). After they were engaged, the couple would inform their closest friends and family before either family would announce the engagement. An engagement could last anywhere between six months and two years, with many parties and meetings with the other family (“Victorian Engagement”).

In addition, during the engagement, the couple was allowed to be seen in public alone, but they had to be separated by nightfall (“Victorian Engagement”). After the couple was united, they would move in together and the cycle would repeat. This proves family would be important because they could impact a woman's fate in life by having the decision on whom the woman could marry.

During chapter twenty-two, Pip and Herbert Pocket are having a conversation. First of all, Pip and Herbert came to recognize each other after Pip received a generous donation from an anonymous benefactor. With the money from the aforementioned donation, he was supposed to go off and become a gentleman. Consequently, he left his sister and brother-in-law in Kent and went to London to do so. In the conversation, Herbert told Pip something that makes it seem like he realized Pip was acting slightly ungentlemanlike (“Great Expectations: Social and Historical Context”). Herbert’s statement to Pip is as follows, “ varnish can hide the grain of the wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself” (Dickens 141).

At that point, Herbert began explaining how this statement applies to Pip, but he never mentions Pip by name. He accomplishes this by using instances in Pip’s life that made it obvious who he was talking about. Dickens used this quote because he was showing with Pip’s “contemporary life” he was forgetting and more or less disowning his heritage and family (“Great Expectations: Social and Historical Context”). In “Great Expectations: Social and Historical Context,” the author informs us that Dickens was never raised by his real parents, but he never forgot his roots or where he came from. The author of the article indeed says that Dickens, “...considered the same business as his father.”

This quotation shows that Dickens “... believed that if you try acting differently it will make what you act like much more obvious; this suggests he is speaking from experience that it will not end up as you desire it too” (“Great Expectations: Social and Historical Context”). Dickens is implementing symbolism of the grain of the wood, meaning he was using the grain of the wood to represent something else. Dickens could be using the grain of the wood to represent a person and how, “ matter how much you want to change”, you have to, “...stay true to yourself” (“Great Expectations: Social and Historical Context”). This shows how even if you do not know your biological parents or family they can still impact your life if you stay true to yourself and your roots. 

Impact of a Young Adult

Another example of the impact of family on a person’s life comes in chapter fifty-nine of Great Expectations. The previous examples have been about how a parent or adult has had an impact on a young adult’s life. This example demonstrates how a young adult can have a similar impact on an adult that they have had on that child’s life. This example comes from long after Pip has completed his training to become more of a gentleman. Shortly after he completes his training, he starts living with Herbert and his wife Clara. After eleven years of not seeing Joe nor Biddy in person, Pip returns to see them at their house. When he gets there, he enters silently through the kitchen so he is unseen nor heard. When he got to the kitchen firelight, where Joe is, he dragged a chair over to sit near Joe’s son.

This is where Pip’s impact comes in, Joe seemed to be immensely delighted to see Pip, and proud of how he looked and acted. Joe had been immensely proud of Pip that he named his son Pip. Joe told Pip that he, “... hoped he might grow a bit like you [Pip]” (Dickens 377). They all thought that little Pip was growing like him, and Pip took him out the next morning for a walk. They wanted to talk because they wanted to learn more about each other. While on their walk, Pip took little Pip to the churchyard, the same one that has fulfilled such a key role in the book because of all the situations that occurred there.

At that time they went back to the house, and Pip got to talk to Biddy after they ate dinner. While the two were talking, he asked Biddy if he could have little Pip one day, possibly to teach him what he was taught about to become a gentleman. At that point, Biddy interjected “No no, … You must marry”. She must have believed he was lonely or something of the sorts. He thinks he is too old to marry and is comfortable with what he has now. This example indicates how a child can have an impact on an adult’s life just like they have had on that child’s life.

Family affects a person’s life because of what they impart you with. This has been proven by the effect parents in Victorian England have had on a young woman’s life by ultimately choosing who they can marry. Charles Dickens exemplifies this because, even though he was not brought up by his biological parents, he stayed true to his roots. Lastly, Pip demonstrates this by producing such an impact on his family by becoming a gentleman that his brother-in-law named one of his children after him.



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