Working Children

In Great Expectations, Pip is too young to be an apprentice to his sister’s husband, the blacksmith, so he completes random jobs to make money, none of which he ever sees. This money is assumed to be used to help contribute the household. When Pip is told he is expected to go to Miss Havisham’s house to play with her daughter Estella, Pip’s sister sends the boy with hopes that the rich matronly lady will pay Pip for his service, thus extending his fortune for the household. Pip is too young to be an apprentice, yet is expected to work odd jobs to help with the family’s income. This reminded me of the poem The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake where the child is sooty and broken spirited from laboring at such a young age. These young children shouldn’t be forced to work under such circumstances, and although Pip is only expected to play with Miss Havisham’s daughter, he undergoes beratement and humiliation, all for his sister’s hope that he will be paid.

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