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Because John Dickens, the father of Charles Dickens, was arrested for debt, he was taken to Marshalsea Debtors' Prison. This incarceration left Charles a virtual orphan who was forced to support himself at age twelve by working in a blacking warehouse where he labeled bottles for six shilling a week. Like Pip who does not wish to be apprenticed to Joe, Charles Dickens resented having to work in this factory. And, like Pip, Dickens was a sensitive boy who aspired to a world outside his reach.
As he grew older, Dickens took a job as a law clerk where he became acquainted with an unscrupulous lawyer upon whom Dickens based his character Mr. Jaggers. And, as a young man Dickens had a failed attempt at love with Maria Beadnell, whose father was a banker. Dickens felt that she rejected him because of his social class as he had not yet established himself as a writer. All of his letters to Miss Beadnell Dickens burned. In his novel when Dickens has Miss Havisham's character burn because of her cold heart towards Pip, some feel this was his symbolic punishment to Maria Beadnell for her cruelty. Another love affair years after his marriage involved Dickens and an actress twenty-seven years his junior, a relationship not unlike that of Joe and the younger Biddy. Interestingly, too, Dickens later re-established contact with his youthful love, Maria Beadnell; however, he was greatly disappointed with their reunion--not unlike Pip's last encounter with Estella.
In several of his novels, Charles Dickens shares the joys and tragedies of his characters; certainly, he and his fictional character of Great Expectations share much of one heart.
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