Essay about Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

Essay about Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

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Great Expectations may be read as a Bildungsroman because it charts
the progress of the protagonist, Phillip Pirrip better known as Pip,
from childhood to young adulthood. Great Expectations contains aspects
of: Autobiography, Ancestry, Education, Desire, Social Conditions and
Love. These are the themes of an English Bildungsroman. Traditionally
a Bildungsroman contains a story which consists of the development of
a character inside society. During this development the character clashes
with his/her social background (class). The protagonist would have suffered
from loss in their childhood and would eventually become accepted. This
essay is going to discuss and show examples of these themes to show
how the novel may fit into the Bildungsroman genre and how they are a
part of Pip’s progress. There are such elements of the novel that do not
fit the Bildungsroman and show that it has developed the genre a
little. To do this, the essay will analyse volume one of ‘Great
Expectations’.

The opening scene charts the development of Pip, the main character,
within the context of society just like a normal typical Bildungsroman.
Straight away from the first paragraph, Dickens uses some of the main
themes of a Bildungsroman. This includes autobiography, “As I never saw
my mother or father as their days were long before the days of
photographs”. This shows that Pip is looking back at his life and has
suffered a loss in his childhood, which conforms to the Bildungsroman
genre. From the first paragraph the reader has already been told why
he is called Pip, his family name is Pirrip, he is an orphan and that
he lives with his sister whose husband is a blacksmith. This indicates
that Dickens really wants to gain suppor...


... middle of paper ...


... from a kind, loving,
humble and innocent child into an independent, quite snobby person who
wants to do well and become a gentleman. Great Expectations has
fulfilled the criteria of the Bildungsroman genre in all the ways mentioned
in the introduction. The novel has been effective in charting Pip’s
development. It mainly focused on the two main themes of the genre,
‘Social Conditions’ and ‘Desire’. Pip started to act like the higher
class and was on his way achieving his desire to become a gentleman.
Great Expectations fits into the definition of the Bildungsroman in many
ways but goes beyond it by taking the hero into adulthood and in presenting
his life through the eyes of the protagonist as an older man. The novel
also includes a number of other features which also make it a love story,
a mystery novel, and a commentary upon the Victorian social order.

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