Explore the Relationship between Character and Environment. Essay

Explore the Relationship between Character and Environment. Essay

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"It is the habit of my imagination", wrote one Victorian novelist, "to strive after as full a vision of the medium in which a character moves, as of the character itself." Explore the relationship between character and environment in any one or two fictional works of the period.

Both Great Expectations and David Copperfield are characterised by the close relationship between the characters and their immediate environment. This is emblematic of all Dickens' novels, reflecting Dickens' own life, recreating his experiences and journeys, using people and places to symbolise feelings and emotions.

David Copperfield opens to `Pip' in a churchyard on the eerie marshes of Kent sombrely reading his parents' gravestones. Dickens describes the scenery as:

"Dark flat wilderness...intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea" (Dickens 6)

This creates a picture of grey gloominess, which embodies how Pip is feeling at the time, as in the next sentence, he starts to cry. The sea is described as a "distant savage lair" (6), and the prison ship which is in the distance, on the sea, known as `The Hulks', Pip describes as "a wicked Noah's Ark" (39). This implies that he is scared of the sea, and The Hulks, and as this is most likely reflecting his state of mind, the reader presumes that this is how he feels a lot of the time when he is at home with Mrs. Joe and on the marshes. Home is a very uncomfortable place for Pip, made so by his sister and the contempt she holds for Pip.

In chapter eight, Pip finds himself at Satis House, home of Miss Havisham. Everything tha...

... middle of paper ...

...n times because travelling was just becoming a possibility, what with developments with transport, and people wanted to read about travelling, journeys and moving around. The Micawbers, in David Copperfield become "purposeful travellers, emigrating to Australia along with the Peggottys'." (Slater, 103) Magwitch, in Great Expectations is also for part of the novel, abroad, in New South Wales. This opened up the possibilities for Victorians to travel.


Andrews, M. Dickens on England and the English. Harvester Press, Sussex: 1979

Dexter, W. The England of Dickens. Purnell, England: 1925

Dickens, C. David Copperfield, Penguin, London: 1994

Dickens, C. Great Expectations, Penguin, London: 1994

Schwarzbach, F. S. Dickens and the City, Athlone Press, London: 1979

Slater, M. An Intelligent Person's Guide to Dickens. Duckworth, London: 1999

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