"2 The people who read Dickens' works were often the kinds of people he was attacking. Dickens lived during the Victorian age which was known as the age of social criticism. Great Expectations was Dickens first attack on class in society.3 Dickens did not come right out and preach about social reform in his novels. He uses his rich characters to illustrate the values and morals he is trying to get across. Great Expectations is a novel of social criticism.
Importance of Setting in Great Expectations Charles Dickens viewed London as a place of economic competition and death. In Great Expectations, he used the prevalent bleakness of the places in London to illustrate the unproductiveness of the social and economic struggle which he viewed as fatal, both literally and figuratively. His depiction of this economic struggle is reflective of the nineteenth century's preoccupation with the rise of the middle-class. Janice Carlisle says, "The most common historical cliché about this mid-Victorian period was that it saw the final consolidation of the social, political, and economic dominance of the middle classes" (5). His association with death depicts the uselessness of this struggle, as well as the corruption associated with the economic endeavor.
These examples, that are planted within the novel, relate to both the society in Dickens' writing and his reality. In order to properly portray the fraud taking place within his novels, Dickens' uses morality in his universe to compare to the reality of society. He repetitively references to the change of mind and soul for both the better and the worst. He speaks of the change of heart when poisoned by wealth, and he connects this disease to the balance of the rich and the poor. This is another major factor to novel, where the plot is surrounded by a social hierarchy that condemns the poor to a life of misery, and yet, condones any action that would normally be seen as immoral when it occurs in the aristocracy.
In the essay “Introduction” from the book, Charles Dickens, Harold Bloom claims Dickens hoped “to add something to the popular and picturesque means of understanding [the] terrible time” of the Revolution (20). Dickens’ reading and “extraordinary reliance upon Carlyle’s bizarre but effective French Revolution” may have motivated him to write the novel (Bloom 21). Sir James Fitzjames Stephen believed that Dickens was “on the look-out for a subject, determined off-hand to write a novel about [French Revolution]” (Bloom 20). In Brown’s book Dickens in his Time, Dickens guided the writing of the play Frozen Deep where two rivals share the same love, and one ultimately sacrifices himself for... ... middle of paper ... ...ickens. New York, NY: Chelsea House, 2006.