Charles Dickens is one of the most recognized authors of 19th century, the Victorian period. He was recognized as the celebrity of English literature for his imagination, humor, great skill over language, also his immense creative writings or which he truly deserves to be recognized as genius. Like many other people Dickens had an awful childhood which haunted him throughout his life. And according to critics his dreadful childhood has been reflected in various aspects of his novels where great darkness has been depicted.
Great Expectations is one of Dickens’ best novels written in 1860-61 which he described as tragic-comedy because tragic-comedy combines people of both high and low esteem. And according to Melissa Llyod, the combination of Pip’s childish imagination (comedy), and the seriousness of the danger around him (tragedy) makes Great Expectations a tragic-comedy. This novel is considered to be Dickens’ greatest gift by Russian author Tolstoy where Dickens used first person narrative and all the characters have been seen through the narrator’s eyes.
Like his other literary works Dickens has given his readers a reflection of his life by depicting it in various dimensions of the plot of Great Expectations too. Many have said that the novel is like an autobiography of Dickens’ own life stories and the struggles he had undergone. The readers can certainly notice the similarities between the Protagonist, Pip and the author Charles Dickens as some events and difficulties the author had undergone are clearly reflected in the journey of the character Pip. Moreover, there are other aspects in the story that are the creation of authors’ own way of looking at things. For instance, the construction of the female characters in the text where four female characters have been introduced to the readers not giving them much strong background rather presenting some of them as selfish, cruel and cold-hearted person and others portraying as weak or doing nothing significant in the novel. Besides a reflection of the erratic relationship shared between Dickens and his mother, Elizabeth Dickens is seen through the bitter relationship of Pip and Miss Havisham. Furthermore, Dickens had strong opinions on crime and punishment due to his fathers’ imprisonment. Therefore he firmly believed that giving the criminals a chance to reform helps them to improve as better human beings and this idea of Dickens has been demonstrated in Great Expectations through the character Magwitch. Therefore, it needs no saying that while writing Great Expectations Dickens own way of looking at things, his own point of view and opinion has played a vital role, be it his ways of constructing the characters, or reflecting his own life journey through his protagonist, Pip, or portraying his erratic relationship with his mother by describing the relationship of Miss Havisham and Pip. Also expressing his point of view regarding crime and criminals through describing the evaluation of the character Magwitch.The term new historicism is a theory related to the criticism of any literary works which says that whenever literature is studied the readers must interpret it from the context of both the history of the author and also the critic.In his novel, Great Expectations Charles Dickens talks about the journey of a young boy named Pip who had good fortune and great expectations in his life but at the end of the novel ends up losing both of them. The novel basically deals with Pip’s ambition and his desire for self-improvement (social, economic, educational and moral), his guilt, innocence, also his maturation and growth from childhood to adulthood. The novel also gives its readers an idea of the Victorian society and the time period of industrial revolution due to which great social changes took place in England in 19th century and social class became a prominent theme of the Victorian society where the divisions between the rich and the poor were extremely widespread. Charles Dickens’ own life took place in the early Victorian England and also at the time of industrial revolution as a result a reflection of both these things can be seen in various events of his novel Great Expectations. Critics have said that the Protagonist, Pips’ life resembles Dickens’ early childhood and there are certain reasons behind their claims. At the very beginning of the text we can see that Pip is an orphan boy whose parents has died long ago and he lives with his sister and brother-in-law ( Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gargery) who are actually his foster parents. Though they adopted him we can see that Pip had to struggle a lot for his survival since his childhood and at the end he became very successful by dint of his own hard work and his fortune provided by his benefactor. Charles Dickens was also a self made man like Pip and he also had to struggle a lot in his childhood. Therefore it can be said that both Pip and Dickens had a life full of poverty and destitute. Charles Dickens lived his childhood in the coast marshes of Kant, England and the childhood of the Protagonist, Pip was also shown in England. In the 19th century due to great social changes there was increasing movement from countryside to towns as a result Dickens’ family also moved to London when he was nine years old and similarly in the novel we can see Pip going to London to pursue his education with the intention of becoming a Gentleman. Besides, at the age of twelve Dickens had to work with other young boys like him in a blacking warehouse leaving his studies as his father Mr. Jones Dickens was put in prison due to his debts. Therefore Dickens had to work at such an early age to support his family and pay his fathers’ debt in spite of disliking his job and thinking himself too good for such kind of job. And in the novel too we see Pip going through the same feeling of disliking his job. When Miss Havisham called Joe and asked him to engage Pip in the same job of a blacksmith, Pip was very disappointed as he never wanted to work as a blacksmith. He felt that he is not made for doing this job rather he deserves better. Therefore, it can be said that both the author and the protagonist had high ambitions in their lives, they had great expectations too. And the character o Furthermore, the representation of the female characters in the text creates an argument among the readers and the critics that whether Dickens has done justice to his female characters or not. According to some of them Charles Dickens has not given enough importance to the female characters. They say that it is because of that period of time when the novel was actually written. Great Expectations was written in Victorian era and in that Victorian society women belonged to the second class in spite of having a monarchy ruled for fourteen years. Even though the country was ruled by a female, the queen’s thought was always in support of the male and she herself used to believe that women should not get all the privileges like men and she regarded it inappropriate. As a result we can see that women in Victorian society did not have the right to vote whereas others say that his failure to build a successful relationship with women in his personal life has given birth to such cruel, selfish and heartless characters like Miss Havisham, Estella, Mrs. Joe Gargery etcDouglas-Fairhurst, Robert. Charles Dickens. The Cambridge Companion to English Novelists, edited by Adrian Poole, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2009, pp. 132″148. Cambridge Companions to Literature.”Dickens Presentation of Female Characters in Great Expectations.” Topics, Sample Papers & Articles Online for Free, 18 Oct 2017,
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