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Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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Topics for Further Study

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  • Research the history and 1850-60 social climate of Australia as an English penal colony, where Magwitch had been living, when Queensland was becoming a separate colony from New South Wales.
  • Investigate U.S. social conditions in 1842 when Dickens visited the United States, and compare this to conditions seen in 1868 when he returned to America on a reading tour. Keep in mind Dickens' themes of class distinction and real life versus expectation of changes he would have been likely to see in the American people. Consider the Gold Rush; the Emancipation Proclamation; John Brown's 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia; the 1857 Dred Scott Decision; etc.
  • Investigate child labor in England before the 1875-80 movement to legally limit work-hours and to improve dangerous factory conditions. Dickens' arousal of public sentiment against industry's inhuman treatment of minors and disenfranchised citizens in his novels contributed to this reform.

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