Great Expectations Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations book cover
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Victorianism-Realism Which characteristics of the Victorian and Realist novel we could identify on Great Expectations?

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Dickens, like many Victorians, wanted to depict everyday life and say something meaningful. His commentary on Victorian society is what makes the book powerful.  He targets class distinctions, the legal system, and romantic notions about love.  Unlike Austin, he does not focus only on relationships.  He focuses more on societal elements.

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Victorian novels tend to thematic lessons of good winning out over evil in an idealized portrait of a life.  In Great Expectations, Pip learns the true value of love and that those who possess the greatest attributes are not the upperclass, but are those with whom he came in contact as a child:  Joe, Biddy, and Magwitch.  A better man after his saving of Miss Havisham from the fire and attending the sick Magwitch as he dies, Pip emerges as the prodigal son who returns to the forge to beg forgiveness.  

There is often something of the Gothic in Victorian literature.  And, Great Expectations certainly has its mysterious marshes,decaying mansion, the ghosts of the convict haunting Pip, and the sinister Orlick appearing in odd places and suspected of the mysterious death of Mrs. Joe. 

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