Should Great Expectations be considered a part of the canon of great literature based on its portal of social class issues in Victorian England? This is a question that has been pondered by many, but has a justifiable answer. This book should not be considered a part of the canon of great literature for several reasons, such as the rise in social class, marriage between classes, and the depiction of women. One reasoning as to why Great Expectations should not be considered a part of the canon of great literature is the constant rise of social class. For example, a convict, a member of the under class, is making money to send to a blacksmith's apprentice, a member of the working class, for him to become better educated and to rise over night into the upper class.
Another thing about rise in social class is how people changed their overall opinion and easily accept the change. For example, in the beginning of the book, Pumblechook, who is Joe's uncle, and a particularly submissive man is mean to Pip, and then grovels and fawns over him when he becomes rich, and even encourages a rumor that he is Pip's benefactor. Another justifiable reason as to why Great Expectations should not be considered a part of the canon of great literature is all of the marriages between social classes. For instance, Herbert's engagement to Clara is being kept concealed because they are waiting for Clara's dad to die. They have to wait because Clara is taking care of him and they do not believe that he would approve of their marriage because Herbert is in a lower class that Clara. Another example of marriage between classes is Wem mick and Miss Skiff ins.
Great Expectations is full of marriages between social classes. A third example would be the Pockets, where Belinda married below her original social class, and never adjusted to the class alteration. The third and final reason as to why Great Expectations should not be considered part of the canon of great literature is the depiction of women. There are several good examples of how women are not properly depicted. "So successful a watch and ward had been established over the young lady by this judicious parent that she had grown up highly ornamental, but perfectly helpless and useless" (187).
This quote about Mrs. Pocket shows how she was almost oblivious to her surrounding but the truth is that in Victorian England women were brought up to manage a house hold. "Victorian women prepared for marriage, not work" (Turning points in history: Victorian England, 179). Another example of women of the era not properly being represented is that Estella and Pip are always going places alone. "If A woman went in a carriage accompanied only by a man who was not her husband or close male relative, her reputation was ruined, and she could not regain it" (Swisher, 73). For example, when Estella arrived in London, they went to a restaurant to drink tea, and tried several rooms before they finally ended up in a room alone.
This would have been looked down upon in Victorian England. The opposition might claim that book correctly represents all four classes; while in reality it does not. For instance Miss Hav isham, a distinct woman of the upper class, randomly invites Pip, a blacksmith's apprentice, to come to her house just to watch him play. That's a little strange and out of the ordinary even for today's culture. Due to the book showing people rising in social status, marring between classes, and the way it depicts women of the Victorian Era Great Expectations should not be considered a part of the canon of great literature.