Social class is most often believed to go hand in hand with a person’s happiness; the rich live in happiness and the poor live in unhappiness. Although, according to Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, social class does not dictate whether one is happy or unhappy, instead it is the events that occur in your life and how one reacts to them that determine happiness. Three of the characters in the story, Pip, Joe Gargery, and Miss Havisham, are examples of the untrue connection between social class and happiness. Poverty is not necessarily a burden; one can live a perfectly happy life while being poor.
Joe is a good, but very poor man with an honest job who has Biddy for a wife after Mrs. Joe dies. It is assumed that if a person has very little money they cannot possibly be happy with their life, but Joe seems to be quite happy with his life. When a person is happy or becomes happier, the people around them will easily see it. Pip visits The Gargery’s home and when he sees them on the front steps he noticed a difference in Joe, his “great forbearance shone more brightly than before” (394). Joe had a happy life but after he marries Biddy his life becomes happier even though he is very poor. However little wealth, does not mean a person is predestined to be unhappy. Wealth can cause a lot of suffering and unhappiness to those who have it forced on to them.
Pip becomes snobbish to his old friends and feels ashamed of who he was before he became wealthy. However, later he goes in debt and cannot get the girl he loves to love him back. Being rich does not always mean one will be happy. Pip lives a happy life until he visits Miss Havisham and Estella for the first time. His happiness then begins to go downhill. Pip loves Estella, though it is unrequited love and it makes him somewhat unhappy. When she says she will marry Drummle, Pip thinks, “what agony it gave me to hear her say those words” (229), and goes into complete unhappiness. Pip is wealthy but unhappy because Estella does not love him. One can have all the riches in the world and yet never achieve happiness. This is true for another character, Miss Havisham, although she does not have all the riches in the world.
Miss Havisham has many riches and a daughter, but her fiancée, Compeyson, leaves her at the alter. She is rich but has no husband. She begins to wear her wedding dress all the time because she does not feel like a bride. “The day came, but not the bridegroom… he wrote her a letter…which she received while she was dressing” (148) Miss Havisham was, at the time, so sad when she got the letter that she stopped all the clocks at that exact time. Compeyson only pretends to want to marry her so he can take her money. She is unhappy because she never married and she trusted her fiancée with her whole heart and he left her. Her riches do not make her happy. She thinks she would only be happy if she were married. Riches rarely bring happiness and in some cases, can bring you heartache.
People tend to think that social class and one’s happiness have a strong correlation. They say riches bring you happiness and if a person is poor they shall be unhappy till either the day they die or the day they receive a great amount of riches. In many cases this is not true. For instance, nowadays people winning big lotteries or receiving a lot of money many times witness their lives becoming less because with a lot of money comes a lot of people asking for it. Whether poor or rich, many people have happy lives because they know what is important in their lives-most often it is family, responsibility, religion, and helping others. Ultimately, happiness depends on how people view their lives and how they allow life events to affect them.
Charles Dickens. Great Expectations