In the first of three parts in the book, Pip, the protagonist, is maltreated by several other characters including Mrs. Gargery, Pip’s elder sister, Mr. Pumblechook, his uncle, Miss Havisham, an old lady, and Estella, Pip’s love. They treat him badly in a two different ways: physically and emotionally. While Mr. Pumblechook and Mrs. Gargery hit Pip in his childhood, Miss Havisham and Estella torture him emotionally. On one occasion, Pip describes his situation – ‘I soon found myself getting heavily bumped from behind in the nape of the neck and the small of the back, and having my face ignominiously shoved against the wall, because I did not answer those questions at sufficient length.’
Abuse in childhood can be seen in a person’s older life. Mrs. Joe came from an abusive family, causing her to become a more violent person. She constantly beats Pip with ‘Tickler’ a wax ended cane that she uses to punish him. Joe, Pip’s step-father, (Pip’s parents have died) also shows an attitude morphed by an abusive past. In his childhood, Joe and his mother were constantly assaulted by his father. This led to Joe’s passive feelings when his father beat at his mother. This mindset still shows later in life when Joe does not retaliate when he is being hit by his wife. Perhaps Dickens’s wanted to portray the negativity of child abuse by creating these characters who have been through it.
The combination of physical and emotional abuse impacted Pip’s attitude. The beatings from Mrs. Joe caused Pip to become a shy and timid boy, which also him into an easier target for other people to bully. Mrs. Joe could have shaped Pip’s attitude into something nicer if she had treated Pip with more respect. Because of her harsh way of dealing with Pip, it made Pip more susceptible to other’s spite.
Pip was also abused emotionally by Estella, Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter. Having been brought up to hate men, she has a snobbish attitude and insults Pip freely. Miss Havisham ‘stole her heart away and put ice in its place.’ She shows her cold side by choosing Bentley Drummle from a crowd of admirers. The couple does not love each leading to an abusive relationship.
Dickens’s book highlights the negative impacts of child abuse and is a terrible reflection of reality today. It is rampant in this world. In fact, New Zealand, a highly developed country, has the fifth worst state of child abuse in thirty one ranked countries. It costs New Zealand over $2 billion dollars a year and at least one child is killed every 5 weeks because of it.
Child abuse is something that we must work together to stop. Nowadays, more and more people have begun to realize the dangers of child abuse. Even 150 years ago, Dickens was aware of child abuse and its devastating impact on