What is the process of individuation? Please refer to Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Individuation refers to the process by which someone becomes separate, distinct and unique from a group.  So, for example, instead of being classified just in the group "literature majors," individuation occurs as you set yourself apart from other literature majors through your work, awards, publications and grades.

In Great Expectations, we can see individuation occurring in many different characters.  For example, take Magwitch.  When Pip first meets him, he is in the generalized group of being a no-good criminal.  However, by the end of the book, Magwitch has become a father, friends, benefactor and beloved companion to Pip.  That process of individuation occurred as Magwitch strove to make his fortune, helped Pip receive the money he made, and returned to become Pip's friend. Pip also discovers his ties to Estella, and that makes him more separate and unique.  He has become not just a common criminal, but so much more.

This can also be applied to Pip; he was, at the beginning, a lowly blacksmith apprentice.  By the end of the novel, he had become a gentleman, and then a working man who had earned his own way.  Look also at Wemmick, who we see first as a simple assistant to Jaggers.  However, through going to his house and being introduced to his father and fiance, we learn of his individual traits and personality.  He becomes not only an assistant, but also a friend, son and trusted ally to Pip.

If you look at each character's journey away from stereotyped roles--haughty girl, crazy old lady, poor blacksmith--into being full, rounded, well-developed characters, they have each been indivualized.  I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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Great Expectations

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