Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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What historical context is Dickens background? Its for coursework

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During the time that Great Expectations is set, Britain was going through rapid social, economic, and political changes. In the early Victorian era, Britain was the world's leading industrial nation, with an enormous empire that stretched right around the globe. On the domestic front, a whole new generation of self-made men drove the nation's prosperity, using their newfound wealth to achieve a degree of social prominence previously denied to them.

Yet although Britain was changing, this was still a deeply class-conscious society, as we can see in a number of places in Great Expectations. Abel Magwitch, for example, though rising up in the world to become a successful, wealthy businessman, will always be tainted by his dark past as a convict. The shocking revelation of his being Estella's father ruins his daughter's chances of a good marriage.

Then there's Pip. Although Pip's temporarily able to lead the life of a wealthy young gentleman about town due to Magwitch's generous bequest, he's still never fully able to escape his humble background as a "common laboring boy" (as Estella cruelly calls him) growing up on the bleak Romney Marshes. Both Estella and Pip have been undone by the prevailing social snobbery, and it's this common outsider status that ultimately brings them together.

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neneta | Student

Charles Dickens lived between 1812 and 1870 in Victorian England. The queen Victoria’s coronation in 1837 signals the beginning of what scholars call the Victorian novel, the genre in which Dickens specialized. “Victorian” has since become a broad term to suggest adjectives like “prudish”, “old-fashioned” and “earnest”.  It was a period of many innovations in very different areas. For example, it reminds us of the industrial revolution, and in fact, at the time, Britain was the most industrialized nation in the world. This paralleled to a rigid social class division and the birth of the urban proletariat, which Dickens certainly tackled in his novels. On the other hand, those social disparities allowed new philosophic and ideological movements to grow, such as Marxism (Karl Marx) or Unionization of workers. At the same time, Charles Darwin published “The origin of species”, a work about evolution that contested the traditional assumptions one had about religion. The Victorian era is then an extensive subject, and I advise you to browse through the Victoria web.

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