Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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Why is Great Expectations considered a Victorian era book? What elements must books have to be considered Victorian and which of these does Great Expectations have?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Great Expectations is a Victorian era book because, first, because it was published in the Victorian era—the era of Queen Victoria's reign, which lasted from 1837 to 1901. What you probably mean, however, is to ask what makes it a characteristic Victorian novel—and it has many Victorian traits. I will focus briefly on three: length, sentimentality, and society.

First, one of the notable qualities of the Victorian novel is its great length. This is because these novels were often serialized in journals, and Great Expectations was no exception to that rule. Week after week sales of a magazine would rise because people were interested in reading the next chapter in an ongoing story—and, of course, in the interests of profit, it made sense to lengthen a popular tale. Further, the chapters would later be gathered into a novel that, to make the most money, was released in a three-volume set. The...

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