Great Expectations

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In Charles Dickens’ magnum opus Great Expectations, there are many dynamic characters and plot devices, which flow the story. One of them is the main character, Pip, who ultimately goes through the most character development with the help of outside forces and developed, minor characters. Most of Pip’s character development, however, is from his motivation to become part of the aristocratic upper class of England. Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations shows the character motivation of Pip, whose desire of wealth and belonging to aristocratic society in Victorian England causes drastic self-improvement throughout the novel. One of the reasons self-improvement is so prominent in Great Expectations is that the theme is extremely relatable to most people. Pip, the main character of the novel, has specific goals for self-improvement that mirror people’s goals in life at the time, like becoming wealthy and rising in society. Eldred J. Wilden, one of the many authors who wrote essays about Great Expectations in Lawrence Kappel’s Readings on Great Expectations, states, “The theme of Great Expectations draws attention to what constitutes true happiness and true gentlemanliness in the story of a poor boy, Pip, and his expectations of wealth and happiness. This theme is of universal interest because nearly everyone seeks happiness and wealth” (Wilden 30). What Wilden is saying is that Great Expectations and its main theme of self-improvement have become so popular because of its relatable character trying to reach goals that everyone at the time was trying to achieve. In the Victorian Age in England, there was a prominence in wealth and high social class due to England’s prosperity under Queen Victoria, which caus... ... middle of paper ... ...vels including A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, and his magnum opus, Great Expectations. He is very similar to Pip in Great Expectations, since they both had similar desires. Since Dickens felt the same way his main character felt, the reader can clearly understand Pip’s character trait of desire and hopefulness, due to his creator having those same feelings as well. Lawrence Kappel states that “Like Pip, Dickens had a deprived and painful childhood that he was ashamed of. Like Pip, he had great expectations of escaping by moving up in society to a life of success and wealth, and also like Pip, he achieved it” (Kappel 25). Therefore, Pip’s desire to escape his poor background and upbringing mirrors Dickens’ own desires, which makes Pip a much more relatable character to the reader, since Dickens can clearly develop his creation with realistic qualities.

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