Was it possible in Victorian times to become a lady or a gentleman without having a good social background?Charles Dickens's Great Expectations

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With Industrialization in England, the demographics of the city of London changed with a rising middle class.  The new money of these people caused new needs and banking houses grew throughout the cities.  There was, indeed, a great expansion of wealth, power, and culture, and with this expansion, many of the rising middle class aspired to be like the arisotocracy.  In Dickens's novel, Great Expectations, there is the recurring motif of the rising middle class who wish to rise to what Dickens considered a frivolous aristocracy.  Despite their desire to rise, few of the middle class were admitted into the social ranks of those of the gentry whose names and education carried a status.

Uncle Pumblechook is a character employed by Dickens to represent this middle class that fauns before the aristocracy to which it aspires.  He hopes to be admitted to Satis House when he appears with Pip.  And as Pip's education as a gentleman continues, Pumblechook suggests his contribution to this advancement of Pip as his being responsible for having brought Pip to Miss Havisham's.

 

damary | Student

Yes, in victorian times it was possible becoming a lady or a gentleman by working hard, learning how to behave well, and becoming rich.

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Great Expectations

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