Great Expectations and Family Relations

Satisfactory Essays
Charles Dickens remains one of the most prominent and certainly the most commercially successful literary artist of nineteenth century England. In addition, Dickens enjoyed a large readership in America. The author’s success on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean stems from his entertaining literary style and his deep respect for social values and the human condition he encountered and incorporated into his writing. Dickens was a prolific writer who drew upon his personal experiences and integrated a certain comic pathos in his writing to delight his reading audience. Dickens can be aptly termed a chronicler of English life as his novels and stories accurately reflect various societal ills and joys of both urban and suburban England. Indeed, his novels and stories continue to amuse and sadden readers of all ages today.

This unit will attempt to introduce Charles Dickens and his work to middle school students. The primary focus of this unit is to examine Great Expectations as a novel rich in familial relationships. The novel will be read and studied as a myriad of interacting families, and hopefully these insights will be suitably translated to my students in such a manner as to heighten their awareness of familial relationships they encounter on a daily basis. Great Expectations will allow my students to experience glimpses of nineteenth century English family life as Dickens most capably perceived it. The questions and concerns evoked by the novel will also cause the students to reflect upon family concerns of twentieth century America. Although Dickens was one of eight children and fathered ten himself making him somewhat of a viable source concerning family relationships, the reader is cautioned not to expect only a discussion of the nuclear family from this unit but also a wide array of family-like relationships which are characteristic in Dickens’ writing.

Great Expectations is a novel of hope and heartbreak, identity and intrigue. The story focuses upon a central character, Pip, who relates his adventures to the reader through Dickens’ stylistic use of the first person point of view. Pip is raised by his sister and her husband, Joe Gargery. Pip’s parents had already died and were buried in the graveyard by the marshes when we first meet him at the age of seven. The reader learns much from Dickens in the opening scenes of the story by his treatment of the family relationship which had been of primary importance to his central character.
Get Access