Great Expectations Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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Why is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens a bildungsroman novel?

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is a bildungsroman novel in that it deals with the intellectual and moral formation of its protagonist. In this particular story, that means Pip. Great Expectations tells his story as he moves from childhood to adulthood, growing in wisdom and maturity as the action progresses.

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Though some critics have argued that Great Expectations isn’t a pure bildungsroman in that it incorporates a number of other genres, it nonetheless displays the basic qualities one would associate with the bildungsroman genre. Like its German predecessors, such as Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, it deals with the intellectual, psychological, and moral growth of a clearly identified protagonist. In Great Expectations, that protagonist is Pip, whom we follow from childhood right through to adulthood.

Along the way, Pip becomes a different person and changes from the "common laboring boy" living in a humble blacksmith’s cottage on the Romney Marshes to a young gentleman about town. But even then he hasn’t finished his moral and intellectual development. Pip comes to realize just what a frightful snob he’s been and reclaims some of the humility he left behind when he headed off to London to live the life of a gentleman at Abel Magwitch’s expense.

By the end of the story,...

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