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Great Expectations: Introduction to the Author Charles Dickens, and the Novel. Dr. Sarwet Rasul. Previous Session. We finished Jane Austen’s Emma We looked at: Themes in the text Important aspects of characterization Crucial questions. Today’s Session. Novel to Study: Great Expectations
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Great Expectations: Introduction to the Author Charles Dickens, and the Novel Dr. SarwetRasul
Previous Session • We finished Jane Austen’s Emma • We looked at: • Themes in the text • Important aspects of characterization • Crucial questions
Today’s Session • Novel to Study: Great Expectations • Charles Dickens: The Author of Great Expectations • Times when Great Expectations was Written • Setting of the novel • Genre and Form of the Novel • Plot and Structure of the Novel • Introduction to characters
Charles Dickens: The Author of Great Expectations • Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth England. • His father’s name was John Dickens while mother’s name was Elizabeth Dickens. • He was the second of eight children. • His mother had been in service to Lord Crew, and his father worked as a clerk for the Naval Pay office. Thus, Dickens was born with an unprivileged socio-economic background; with the stigma that his ancestors were illiterate servants. • His father was poor but was eager to climb the social ladder. • Dickens’ childhood was subsequently a rocky journey. There were a lot of moves and financial crises. • Thus, till his early teenage he was living in a small house, while his parents had no money to send him to school.
Charles Dickens: The Author of Great Expectations • To help his family, Charles was sent to work in a rat-infested shoe polish factory, where he worked twelve-hour days sticking labels on pots of polish. • This job seemed to scare something in the young Dickens--perhaps showing him how easily one's hopes and ambitions could be cast aside by circumstance. • He later recounted these experiences in the semi-autobiographical novel David Copperfield. Similarly, the concern for social justice and reform which surfaced later in his writings grew out of the harsh conditions he experienced in the warehouse.
Charles Dickens: The Author of Great Expectations • Things got even worse when, just a week into the factory job, his family was thrown in a debtor's prison. • Dickens was able to leave the blacking factory after his father's release from prison, and he continued his education at the Wellington House Academy. • However, he had little formal schooling. • From the very teenage he struggled against financial odds. He taught himself shorthand as a teenager and became a court reporter. This enabled him to resume his education. • Soon he was able to launch his career as a journalist.
Charles Dickens: The Author of Great Expectations • At the age of sixteen, Dickens got himself a job as a court reporter, and shortly thereafter he joined the staff of A Mirror of Parliament, a newspaper that reported on the decisions of Parliament. • This was the time when he entered into writing. Some of his character sketches were accepted into monthly magazines. These were gathered later into a book, which sold well. • From there, Dickens launched his lifelong career as a novelist. • During this time Charles continued to read voraciously at the British Library. These extensive readings are well reflected in his writings. • He also experimented with acting and stage-managing amateur theatricals. His experience of acting naturally affected his work throughout his life. He is known to act out characters he was writing in the mirror and then describe himself as the character in prose in his novels.
Charles Dickens: The Author of Great Expectations • It was not an easy journey for Dickens. To establish his career and to make himself financially strong he worked hard. He devoted long hours to the theatre and publication businesses. • Fast becoming disillusioned with politics, Dickens developed an interest in social reform and began contributing to the True Sun, a radical newspaper. Although his main avenue of work would consist of writing novels, Dickens continued his journalistic work until the end of his life, editing The Daily News, Household Words, and All the Year Round. • His connections to various magazines and newspapers as a political journalist gave him the opportunity to begin publishing his own fiction at the beginning of his career. • Most of his books were published serially, in magazines, during his lifetime. • Dickens published some of his best-known novels including A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations in his own weekly periodicals.
Charles Dickens: The Author of Great Expectations • Within a few years, he was regarded as one of the most successful authors of his time, with approximately one out of every ten people in Victorian England avidly reading and following his writings. • As far as his personal life is concerned, in 1836 Dickens married Catherine Hogarth, the daughter of a fellow co-worker at his newspaper. The couple had ten children before their separation in 1858.
Charles Dickens: The Author of Great Expectations • Like all other writers Dickens’ writing matured with the passage of time. His travels abroad played a vital role in bringing this maturity. His visits in the 1840s, first to America and then through Europe, marked the beginning of a new stage in Dickens’ life as a writer. • His writings became longer and more serious. In David Copperfield (1849-50), readers find the same flawed world that Dickens discovered as a young boy presented in a more mature way. • He wrote fifteen novels.
Death of Charles Dickens • Dickens' health began to deteriorate in the 1860s. In 1858, in response to his increasing fame, he had begun public readings of his works. • These travels badly affected his health. An immensely profitable but physically shattering series of readings in America in 1867-68 added to the speed of his health decline, and he collapsed during a "farewell" series in England. • On June 9, 1870, Charles Dickens died. • He was buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey and was laid under a tombstone that read: "England's Most Popular Author.“ • More than a century later, his books continue to charm and engage young children, and eminent literary critics alike.
Important Works of Dickens Though he left The Mystery of Edwin Drood unfinished, he had already written fifteen substantial novels and countless shorter pieces. His more popular works include: • Oliver Twist (1838) • A Christmas Carol (1843) • David Copperfield (1849) • Hard Times (1854) • ATale of Two Cities (1859) • Great Expectations (1860) Though Charles Dickens died, his work continues to attract, inspire and amaze the readers of English novel till today.
Introduction to Great Expectations • Written by: Charles Dickens • Type of Work: Serialized story turned into a novel • First Published: December 1860-April 1861 in weekly installments to a magazine; July 1861 as a novel in 3 volumes; November 1862 as a whole novel • Setting: Early 1800s; London, England, and around the marshes of Kent
Introduction to Great Expectations • Great Expectations (1860), was initially published serially but under a stricter length requirement, and is considered a more polished example of Dickens’ work. • It is a comparatively slim Dickens' volume, too, at just under six-hundred pages. • Like much of Charles Dickens's work, Great Expectations was first published in a popular magazine, in regular instalments of a few chapters each . Many of the novel's chapters end with a lack of dramatic resolution, which was intended to encourage readers to buy the next instalment.
Times when Great Expectations was Written • Great Expectations is set in early Victorian England. • It was a time when great social changes were sweeping the nation. • The Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries had transformed the social landscape, enabling capitalists and manufacturers to amass huge fortunes. • Although social class was no longer entirely dependent on the circumstances of one’s birth, the divisions between the rich and the poor remained nearly as wide as ever.
Setting of the novel • The action of Great Expectations takes place in a limited geography between a small village at the edge of the North Kent marshes, a market town in which Satis House is located, and the greater city of London. The protagonist, Pip, grows up in the marsh village. Eventually he becomes a frequent visitor to Satis House, located in the market town. Upon inheriting a good deal of money, he moves to London, where he is taught to be a gentleman. Throughout the novel, Pip travels between these three locations in pursuit of his great expectations.
Genre and Form of the Novel • Bildungsroman (a German word, novel of formation, Some times this genre is named as coming of age story. It focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood so in it character change is extremely important.) • In form, Great Expectations fits a pattern popular in nineteenth-century European fiction: the bildungsroman, or novel depicting growth and personal development, generally a transition from boyhood to manhood such as that experienced by Pip. The genre was popularized by Goethe with his book Wilhelm Meister (1794–1796) and became prevalent in England with such books as Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Charlotte Brontë’sJane Eyre, and Dickens’s own David Copperfield. Each of these works, like Great Expectations, depicts a process of maturation and self-discovery through experience as a protagonist moves from childhood to adulthood. • Victorian Literature • Social commentary
PLOT and STRUCTURE ANALYSIS • Charles Dickens is said to have explored a new ground in his novel, Great Expectations. • The theme of self-knowledge explored in the novel expresses in part Dickens’ own search for a sense of self. May readers and historians have suggested that Pip has a touch of Dickens in him, making the fictional book feel almost autobiographical. • Structurally, the novel is a narration by a mature and retrospective Pip. It is divided into three distinct “stages,” each labeled as a specific “stage of Pip’s expectations.” • In a chronological sequence, these chapters trace Pip’s progress from a child to an adolescent and young adult. This is a journey of acceptance of his true place in the society. • In terms of plot and structure it is also a journey from a small town to city and then back to town, completing the full circle.
PLOT and STRUCTURE ANALYSIS cont… • The first stage introduces all the major characters and sets the plot in motion. • Pip is introduced, and his situation and context are developed fully. Even we are told about the first seeds of his desire to be “uncommon.” • This leads to the revelation by Mr. Jaggers, the lawyer, that Pip is to inherit a huge fortune and become a gentleman. • This sounds miraculous as well as mysterious to Pip. • In this part gradually Pip’s expectations of himself rise as the plot develops. • The second stage of Pip’s expectations involves a change of setting. In this section, Pip’s development into a “gentleman” is explored. • This stage describes the spendthrift and idle way Pip squanders wealth and what kind of person he has become. On the surface of things, Pip believes that he is living up to his great expectations. He also has the expectation that he will be able to marry Estella’. • But this stage of his expectations is completely shattered when the benefactor discloses his identity to Pip.
PLOT and STRUCTURE ANALYSIS cont… • The third stage of Pip’s expectations explores the complete collapse of Pip’s great expectations, making him realize how false are these expectations. • The old and false expectations are replaced by new and more mature perspective on life. We see in him developing a sense of life and respectability. • This section primarily constitutes his transformation, which has been at the heart of the novel. Such a pattern of growth, development and re-education reflects the Bildungsromantradition of Great Expectations. • The novel, though divided into these three stages, is further divided into episodic chapters due to the publication of the novel serially. Each chapter must necessarily have a complete movement as well as some sort of trigger that will induce the reader to buy the magazine the following week in order to see what will happen next.
Important Themes • Social Injustice • Child Abuse • Self-Deception • Fear and Guilt • Relationships • Snobbery and Vanity • False (great) Expectations
Introduction to Characters • Major Characters • Pip - Philip PiripHe is the narrator and hero of the novel. He is a sensitive orphan raised by his sister and brother-in-law in rural Kent. After showing kindness to an escaped convict, he becomes the beneficiary of a great estate. He rejects his common upbringing in favor of a more refined life in London, unaware that his benefactor is actually the convict. By the end of the novel he learns a great lesson about friendship and loyalty, and gives up his “great expectations” in order to be more true to his past. • Joe GargeryA simple and honest blacksmith, and the long-suffering husband of Mrs. Joe. He is Pip’s brother-in-law, as well as a loyal friend and ally. He loves and supports Pip unconditionally, even when Pip is ashamed of him and abandons him. By the end of the novel, Pip realizes the true worth of Joe’s friendship.
Cont… Major Characters • Miss HavishamA bitter and eccentric old lady who was long ago cheated on her wedding day. She continues to wear her faded wedding gown despite the fact that it is old and yellowed. • She still has the rotten wedding cake on her dining room table. Twisted by her own hatred and resentment, she lives in cobwebbed darkness with her adopted daughter Estella, whom she has raised to be a man-hater.
Cont… Major Characters • Estella She is the beautiful adopted daughter of Miss Havisham. She is a girl with a very cold heart. She has been brought up to wreak revenge on the male sex on Miss Havisham's behalf. She is honest with Pip when she tells him she is incapable of returning his love. • Magwitch(also known as Provis and Campbell)An escaped convict who initially bullies Pip into bringing him food and a file. Unbeknownst to Pip, the convict later rewards him by bequeathing him a large amount of money anonymously. He comes back into Pip’s life when Pip is an adult, revealing himself as the donor, and asks for help in escaping the death sentence he has been given as a result of his life of crime.
Minor Characters • Mrs. Joe GargeryPip’s sister. She is a short-tempered woman who resents Pip because he is a burden to her. She is attacked with a leg-iron and spends the rest of her life unable to communicate because of a brain-injury. She learns to be patient and forgiving as a result of the attack. • Biddy WopslePip's confidante and teacher. As a child, she develops a crush on Pip. She runs the house after Mrs. Joe’s accident and later marries Joe. • Mr. WopsleA parish lay clerk who had formerly wanted to be a clergyman. He leaves his church to become a not-so-successful actor in London. His “great expectations” are in comic parallel to Pip’s. • Mr. PumblechookJoe's uncle. He joins Mrs. Joe in bullying and resenting Pip, then takes some credit for Pip's good fortune.
Minor Characters • Mr. and Mrs. Hubble Friends of Mrs. Joe. • OrlickJoe's employee. He is an evil character who attacks Mrs. Joe and also attempts to take Pip's life. Later he robs Mr. Pumblechook and ends up in jail. • Mr. JaggersA criminal lawyer in London. He is well respected in his own dubious social circle, and is most well known for his ability to defend even the dregs of society. He is the administrator of Pip’s inheritance. • WemmickJaggers' confidential clerk. He is a good-natured man in his personal life, but is incredibly stern and officious in his professional life. Pip often remarks that Wemmick has two personalities. He becomes an advisor and friend to Pip.
Minor Characters • Herbert Pocket Pip's elegant and artlessly optimistic best friend. Though living in genteel poverty, he is an example of an uncommon gentleman. • Mr. Matthew Pocket Pip’s teacher and Herbert’s father. He is a thoroughly educated gentleman under whom Pip is to learn. He is the only member of the family who does not flatter Mrs. Havisham; as a result, she is not happy with him.
Minor Characters • Bentley DrummleA sulking brute who eventually marries Estella then mistreats her. • StartopA tenant of Mr. Pocket and a friend of Pip. • Molly Jaggers’ housekeeper. She was once accused of murder but acquitted. She turns out to be Estella’s mother. • Miss SkiffinsWemmick’s girlfriend and later, bride. • Clara Herbert Pocket’s girlfriend and later, bride. • Mrs. BrandleyThe old widow with whom Estella lives in Richmond. • Mrs. WhimpleAn elderly woman at whose house Pip and Herbert lodge Magwitch in order to hide him. • CompeysonMagwitch's onetime partner in crime. It is his fault Magwitch is sentenced to prison. He becomes an informant to the police and helps recapture Magwitch. http://thebestnotes.com
Summary of the Session • Introduction to the Novel to Study: Great Expectations • Charles Dickens: The Author of Great Expectations • Times when Great Expectations was Written • Setting of the novel • Genre and Form of the Novel • Plot and Structure of the Novel • Introduction to major and minor characters
References of works consulted • CHARLES DICKEN’S GREAT EXPECTATIONS. (2007) Edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom. Viva Books Private Limited: New Delhi • DICKENS: A COLLECTION OF CRITICAL ESSAYS (1967). Edited by Martin Price. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs. New Jersey • http://www.cliffsnotes.com • www.gradesaver.com • www.enotes.com • www.bartleby.com • www.gutenberg.org • http://www.helium.com • http://www.studymode.com • http://thebestnotes.com