Great Expectations

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Great Expectations, despite being primarily and almost exclusively concerned with a search for an identity in a rapidly industrializing Victorian world, shares something of the moral preoccupations of the picaresque. It is, in fact, chronologically located between the developments of these two generic types.


Being a bildungsroman, this journey towards self-realization is quite expected and in fact, commonplace. However, what is unique about Great Expectations is the sheer emphasis that Dickens allows himself to give on the moral dimension of this growth. Towards the end of the novel, we hear Pip reflect on Magwitch in the following way:
'(I) only saw a man who had meant to be my benefactor, and who had felt affectionately gratefully and generously towards me with great constancy through a series of years. I only saw in him a much better man than I had been to Joe'. (Page 467)
It is thus obvious that towards the end of the novel, Pip is introspective and is morally analyzing his position alongside his previous notions on class, outside show of goodness and inner nobility, an irony which remains the dominant motif of the novel. We must never forget that ultimately Pip is presented with a choice that is ostensibly moral, whether he will accept the riches or maintain his moral and inner integrity. Irrespective of Pip's response, the very positing of this question tells us that in Great Expectations, at least, Dickens the moralist supersedes the humorist and the social commentator in this novel.
Great Expectations, like many other novels of Charles Dickens, has the elements like loneliness and alienation. ...
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