I am struggling finishing an essay about the themes of good and evil in Great Expectations. Could you share some ideas to help me finish?
As the above post mentions there is a blurring of the lines of good and evil in Dickens's great novel, the implications are that the falsely assigned lines of demarcation of class are of little worth. In fact, the characters who possess the most sterling of souls are the poor: the convict Magwitch, the orphan Biddy, the simple blacksmith Joe Gargery.
And, that the greatest evil is society itself becomes evident in the character of Mr. Jaggers himself, the representative of a justice system that works only if the clients have the money. It is Jaggers, too, who washes his hands constantly, hoping to cleanse them of the sordid crimes and criminals with whom he has been associated, not to mention his own unscrupulous dealings such as defending Molly only to make her work as his servant.
One thing that strikes me about good and evil in this book is that they can come from very unexpected sources. Both Mrs. Joe and Miss Havisham do great evil to people that they ought to love. Mrs. Joe abuses Pip and Miss Havisham devastates Estella's life in order to get her revenge on men. By contrast, good can come from an unexpected source. Magwitch is the best example of this. You could say Joe is another example since he would not be expected to love Pip. Joe does much more good to Pip than Pip's sister ever does. So you have cases in this book of good and evil coming from sources that you would not expect.
You might consider how both Magwitch and Miss Havisham tried to pass their good or evil (more evil) to someone in the new generation. Although it seemed Magwitch's intentions for Pip were good, we find he needs Pip to regularly bail him out of the consequences of his evil. Miss Havisham felt such great guilt when she recognized the problem of her trying to pass evil onto another generation.
Mr. Jaggers actied on behalf of some of the worst men in London. Being right near the prison readers engage (as does Pip) with the enviornment of evil.
Good and evil claim no social class. Both Miss Havisham and Mrs. Joe are terrible to Pip, although Pip is much more attracted to the emotional abuse over the physical abuse. Likewise, both Joe of a lower class, and Mr. Wemmick of the middle class can be quite content and inherently good.
This might be a good discussion board post. You would probably get many answers.
In the attached document, look over Crimes and Responsibility and Innocence and Guilt.