What is an example of an analysis of Great Expectations using Structuralism?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the main components of structuralism is symbolism and metonymy.  In Great Expectations, everything is a symbol.  The focus is “symbolic, a structure that has nothing to do with perceptible forms” (enotes, see second link).  An example of this is how Pip is introduced in the beginning of the story in a cemetery on the marshes.

As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. (ch 1)

The placement and introduction of Pip in the cemetery is relevant.  Pip exists in a dim, gothic world.  He is always separate, almost like a ghost or not quite human.  Pip is distancing himself from his reality.

Pip also uses metonymy when he describes himself as “the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry” (ch 1).  Pip is not literally described, but metaphorically and symbolically described so he just disappears into the landcape.