ife Works)”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so.” (Bibliomania Online)
The Victorian era, 1837-1901,was an era of several unsettling social developments that forced writers more than ever before to take positions on the immediate issues animating the rest of society. Although romantic forms of expression in poetry and prose continued to dominate English literature throughout much of the century, the attention of many writers was directed, sometimes passionately, to such issues as the growth of English democracy, the education of the masses, the progress of industrial enterprise and the consequent rise of a materialistic philosophy, and the plight of the newly industrialized worker. In addition, the unsettling of religious belief by new advances in science, particularly the theory of evolution and the historical study of the Bible, drew other writers away from the immemorial subjects of literature into considerations of problems of faith and truth. Charles Dickens is the most widely read Victorian novelist. Dickens appealed to social consciousness to overcome social misery. His immense popularity gave importance to his attacks on the abuses of the law-courts and of schools whose object was not the education of the children but the enrichment of the proprietors. Through Dickens Literature he questioned authority, examined the lives of the undistinguised individuals, and he challenged the idea that mone can by happiness. As bella Wilfer Says in Our mutual friend “society given over to the pursuit of money, money, money, and what money can make of life.” (Smith 78)
Born in Portsmouth, England, on February 7, 1812, the second of John and Elizabeth Dickens’s eight children, Charles was raised with the assumption that he would receive an education and, if he worked hard, might some day come to live at Gad’s Hill Place, the finest house on the main road between Rochester and Gravesend (Smith 196). John Dickens, on whom Mr. Micawber is based, moved the family to London in 1823, fell into financial disaster, was arrested for debt and imprisoned in the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison ( Kaplan 109). Charles was forced to go to work at Warren’s Blacking Factory at Hungerford Stairs labeling bottles. In his Life of Charles Dickens, John Forster shares the fragment of Dickens’s autobiography upon which David Copperfield’s Murdstone and Grinby experiences are based:
“It is wonderful to me how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age. It is wonderful to me, that, even after my descent into the poor little drudge I had been since we came to London, no one had compassion on me — a child of singular abilities, quick, eager, delicate, and soon hurt, bodily or mentally — to suggest that something might have been spared, as certainly it might have been, to place me at any common school. Our friends, I take it, were tired out. No one made any sign. My father and mother were quite satisfied. They could hardly have been more so, if I had been twenty years of age, distinguished at a grammar-school, and going to Cambridge.” ( Ackroyd, 388)
Dickens himself did not know how long this ordeal lasted, “whether for a year, or much more, or less”; surely it must have seemed as if it would last forever to this sensitive twelve-year-old boy and it so seared his psyche that Dickens the man never “until I impart it to this paper a full quarter century later, in any burst of confidence to anyone, my own wife not excepted, raised the curtain I then dropped, thank God.” (Ackroyd, 388)
Dickens was able to continue his education after his father received a legacy from a relative and was released from the Marshalsea. Charles attended Wellington House Academy from 1824 to 1826 before taking work as a clerk in Gray’s Inn for two years. In order to qualify himself to become a newspaper parliamentary reporter, Dickens spent eighteen months studying shorthand, a perfect command of which was “equal in difficulty to the mastery of six languages,” he was cautioned, and studying in the reading room of the British Museum. He won a reputation for his quickness and accuracy during his two years (1828-1830) as a reporter in the court of Doctors’ Commons before reporting for the True Sun and the Mirror Parliament and finally becoming a reporter for the Morning Chronicle in 1834 (Ayer, 55).
Dickens’s first published piece appeared in the December, 1833, number of the Monthly Magazine, followed by nine others, the last two appearing over the signature “Boz,” a pseudonym Dickens adopted from a pet name for his younger brother (Ackroyd 98). These sketches were collected into two volumes and published on Dickens’s twenty-fourth birthday, February 7, 1836, as Sketches by Boz. Illustrative of Everyday Life and Everyday People. Dickens’s skills as an observant reporter intimately familiar with middle and lower class London are demonstrated in these descriptive vignettes of everyday life, which also reveal his high humor and his deep concern for social justice, qualities that will dominate his novels (Charles Online).
Dickens married Catherine Hogarth, daughter of George Hogarth, with whom Dickens worked on the Morning Chronicle . Catherine and Charles had ten children before they separated in 1858. Mary Hogarth, Catherine’s beautiful younger sister, joined the Dickens household shortly after the honeymoon. Mary’s death, at seventeen years of age, in Dickens’s arms established in his mind an image of ideal womanhood that never left him. The ring he took from Mary’s dead finger remained on his hand until his own death (Ayer 83).
The introduction of Sam Weller into the fourth number of Pickwick Papers (1836-37) launched the most popular literary career in the history of the language. Pickwick Papers became a publishing phenomenon, selling forty thousand copies of every issue. Published in twenty monthly installments, Pickwick took England by storm: Judges read it on the bench, doctors in the carriages between visiting patients, boys on the street. Carlyle tells Forster the story of a clergyman who, after consoling a sick person, was alarmed to hear the patient exclaim, upon the clergyman’s leaving the sickroom, “Well, Thank God, Pickwick will be out in ten days anyway!” People named their pet animals after characters in the novel; there were Pickwick hats, cigars, and coats, and innumerable plays and sequels based on the original (Smith 102).
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club chronicle the amusing misadventures of Mr. Pickwick, a lovable innocent who seeks to discover the world with his youthful companions, parodies of the lover, the sportsman, and the poet. While the Papers begin as a hilarious romp parodying the eighteenth-century novels Dickens had pored over as a child, they eventually assume a shape rising to the mythic level of great literature. Pickwick’s education, under the guidance of Sam Weller, his streetwise, Cockney manservant, leads him to the discovery of the world of shyster lawyers, guile, corruption, vice, and imprisonment. The comic exuberance of Pickwick dominates this dark underside, though, and the sheer energy and wonderful good humor of the Papers carries the sunny day. There are, however, the Interpolated Tales of madness, betrayal, and murder, and Mr. Pickwick is forced to become a prisoner in his own room in the Fleet, for three months. The horrors young Charles Dickens had witnessed as a boy working in the blacking warehouse while his father was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea are not eliminated from Pickwick’s world; indeed, his awareness of their existence is what allows Mr. Pickwick to become a fully loving, if finally not fully effective human being, who, with Sam’s help, can see reality and relieve evil–to the best of his limited abilities (Ackroyd 184).
Even as Pickwick Papers was enjoying its huge success, Dickens started Oliver Twist; or The Parish Boy’s Progress in January, 1837; it continued in monthly numbers through 1838. In Oliver , Dickens explores the social evils attendant upon a political economy that made pauperism the rule rather than the exception. Oliver flees the cruel Sowerbys where he is apprenticed as an undertaker, having been sold to them by the workhouse for daring to ask for more — food, love, nutrition, warmth — and seeks his fortune in the criminal slum world of London proper. Befriended by the irrepressible Artful Dodger, he discovers warmth and good humor in Fagin’s den, among thieves, pickpockets, prostitutes, and burglars. Dickens presents an unrelenting portrait of the filth and squalor that surround poverty and, refusing to romanticize the criminal world, at the same time makes it clear that this sector has been abandoned by society just as surely as Oliver and the other Parish Boys have been abandoned by an unresponsive system. This is the world the young Dickens saw at the blacking warehouse (Smith 88).
The contrasting world of the Brownlows and the Maylies may serve to rescue Oliver from the corruption of Fagin and the brutality of Sikes, but the other boys in Fagin’s gang–who have been nurtured better by Fagin than Oliver’s fellows had been in the workhouse–will remain abandoned. Rose Maylie, Dickens’s first resurrection of Mary Hogarth, is discovered to be Oliver’s aunt and Oliver is returned to her through Nancy’s intervention, When Bill Sikes learns of Nancy’s betrayal of him and the gang, Dickens has Sikes brutally murder her. Dickens’s almost compulsive public reading of the death of Nancy some thirty years later–readings that shortened his own life–seems an insistent reminder to his public that this problem has not been successfully addressed. The social system has victimized Nancy and Sikes just as surely as the Poor Law has failed Oliver. There may be Brownlows and Maylies who can intervene individually and occasionally–and miraculously–in the lives of some Olivers, but the masses of screaming mobs hot in pursuit of Sikes for the murder of Nancy need to know how those destructive forces can be reversed. Sikes has been as brutalized by that society as Nancy has been by him. Dickens’s novels seek to help us understand this and to do something about it, as a society (Charles Online).
Upon completing Barnaby Rudge Dickens visited America where he was absolutely lionized. However, after several attacks on him for his insistent speaking out in favor of international copyright laws and after further acquaintance with American ill breeding and overly familiar intrusion on his and Catherine’s privacy, Dickens became disenchanted with his own vision of America as a land of freedom that was fulfilling a democratic ideal. In American Notes (1842) he expresses his reservations about America, much to the chagrin of his American audience (World Book CD-ROM).
With The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit , Dickens returned to monthly numbers publishing in twenty installments from January, 1843, to July, 1844. Martin Chuzzlewit is organized around the theme of selfishness, and marks an advance in Dickens’s development as a novelist. However, sales dropped off to twenty thousand; in an effort to increase sales, Dickens sends Martin to America where Martin discovers the boorish behavior Dickens had only gently portrayed in American Notes . If Dickens is scathing in his portrayal of America in Chuzzlewit, he is even fiercer in exposing greed, selfishness, hypocrisy, and corruption in his homeland. He is able to sustain this satiric exposure with his comic genius, creating here characters who have achieved a reality beyond their pages. Sairey Gamp is no less real for us than Mrs. Harris is for her, and Pecksniff’s name has entered the language as descriptive of hypocritical benevolence.
In December, 1843, Dickens published the most popular and beloved of his works, A Christmas Carol, a work that expresses succinctly his “Carol philosophy.” Scrooge has sacrificed joy, love, and beauty for the pursuit of money and is representative of a society whose economic philosophy dooms the less fortunate to lives of want and oppression. The ghosts help him to a Wordsworthian recollection of youth and the promise of a better being, and as a result, Scrooge’s imagination is extended sympathetically beyond himself and he is redeemed. Dickens’s vision of a society redeemed through love and generosity will haunt his works from now on. The alternative to this vision seems to be the threat of revolutionary violence we see in Brandy Rudge (Ackroyd 144).
Dickens traveled to Italy in 1844-45 and then to Switzerland and Paris in 1846. His next Christmas book, The Chimes (1844), continued the assault on the economic philosophy exposed in A Christmas Carol. Dickens ridicules Malthusian philosophy and the economic theory that the poor have no right to anything beyond meager subsistence. He is coming increasingly to believe that the social problems in England are an inevitable byproduct of an economic philosophy that is fundamentally wrong-minded. The Cricket and the Hearth (1845) and The Battle of Life (1846) continue the Christmas books, and Pictures from Italy (1846) recounts Dickens’s impressions of his Italian travel. It is such trips as these that Dickens thrived on, because in his novels Dickens Examined the “common man.” This analysis can be shown in Oliver Twist, in that Oliver was the average person trying to stay alive while living in such poverty (World Book).
The importance of memory once again becomes central to Dickens’s next Christmas book, The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain (1848), the tale of a man who gets his wish to lose all memory of sorrow at the expense of losing the attendant sensibility that comes with the loss of memory. It is at this time that Dickens is writing the autobiographical fragment he shares with Forster and which he mined for his most autobiographical novel, The Personal History of David Copperfield , published in twenty monthly installments from May, 1849, to November, 1850, the last issue being a double number. David Copperfield opens with David, the narrator, indicating that the pages of his book must show whether he will turn out to be the hero of his own life. After overcoming the brutal experiences based on Dickens’s own experience at the blacking warehouse, David eventually marries, sets up household, establishes a growing reputation as a novelist, and yet discovers “a vague unhappy loss or want of something” in his life. He wonders if this unhappiness is the result of his having given in to “the first mistaken impulse of an undisciplined heart” by marrying his child-wife, or if it is representative of the human condition. He does know it would have been better if his wife “could have helped me more, and shared the many thoughts to which I had no partner; and that this might have been; I knew.” (Ayer, 93)
Dickens was himself experiencing a similar sense of vague dissatisfaction at this time and may have wondered if his wife were not partly responsible. Whether she was or whether Dickens was experiencing the angst that every major Victorian thinker suffered from we cannot know. David’s problem is settled by Dora’s early death and David’s recognition that Agnes has loved him all along and that on a level he was not aware of he had loved her too. They marry, have a lovely family, and share a fulfilled existence ( Smith 72).
The novel ends with David’s apostrophe to his true wife: “Oh Agnes, Oh my soul, so may thy face be by me when I close my life indeed; so may I, when the shadows which I now dismiss, still find thee near me, pointing upward!” In his Preface to the novel, Dickens talks about “dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world” as he finishes David Copperfield. Both Dickens and David equate the world of vision with the world of actuality–one is as impermanent as the other. For David, Agnes is pointing to a world he hopes lasts beyond the worlds of shadow. In 1842, Dickens had written to Forster in response to the overwhelming triumph of his welcome in Boston: “I feel, in the best aspects of this welcome, something of the presence and influence of that spirit which directs my life, and through a heavy sorrow has pointed upward with unchanging finger for more than four years past.” He is referring, of course, to Mary Hogarth (Ackroyd 188).
The world David is born into is flawed. He experiences the evil of the world, deeply at Murdstone and Grinby’s, and escapes it. In his adult world he participates in the evil, contributes to it, unwittingly, as when he introduces Steerforth to the Peggottys and brings ruin upon that innocent house. He feels responsible for Dora’s death, the loss of Em’ly, Steerforth, and Ham. But in the end he is able, with Agnes’s help, to put his universe back together. He has been involved in a struggle, with his undisciplined heart on the one hand, with active evil in the form of Uriah Heep on the other. Agnes tells David that she believes simple love and truth will prevail over evil in the end. It will, for Dickens, only if goodness has the measure of evil and if good people are willing to use their creative energy to work hard to realize that goodness. The evil that David experienced as a child on the streets of London sharpened his wits so that, for example, David is able to catch Uriah staring at him while pretending to write, on their first encounter. And as a result of David’s experience on the streets, he has the help of Mr. Micawber in defeating Uriah in his scheme to take over the Wickfield firm, indeed to take over the world of the novel. David’s first-hand experience with the evil streets of London as a boy gives him the knowledge and wherewithal to take the measure of evil. His imaginative creativity, inspired by Agnes, allows him to order his universe. The very powers that allow David Copperfield to succeed as hero are the powers that allow Dickens to create David Copperfield . He will extend those powers beyond the world of the novel to continue to address the evils of a social system that is oppressive and life denying.
Dickens extended his capacity to address social issues and to provide entertainment by founding Household Words , a weekly magazine that first appeared on March 30, 1850, and continued until he replaced it with All the Year Round , which he founded and edited in 1859.
In 1850 he also helped to establish the Guild of Literature and Art to create an endowment for struggling artists. Money was raised for the Guild through amateur theatrical performances that Dickens usually performed in, directed, and managed. Dickens was a brilliant actor and loved the stage, producing plays throughout his career as fund raisers for the many charitable concerns he worked tirelessly to support. His love for the theater culminated in his captivating public readings from his own novels ( World Book 153).
Bleak House , appearing in twenty monthly installments from March, 1852, to September, 1853, is a scathing indictment of government, law, philanthropy, religion, and society in nineteenth century England. The organizing principle of the plot is the hopelessly entangled lawsuit of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which destroys the lives of all who become enmeshed in the Court of Chancery through the suit. The legal system is exposed as itself a symptom of what is wrong with a society that is structurally flawed. The mud, ooze, slime, and fog that symbolically dominate the world of this novel suggest that this society cannot be redeemed through a simple restructuring. The spontaneous combustion of Krook, the counterpart of the Lord Chancellor, indicates that this society must be fundamentally altered or it will explode of its own internal corruption. Jo, the crossing sweep, has neither the energy nor the tools to sweep away the mud and slime into which the slum of Tom-all-Alone’s is crumbling. And Tom-all-Alone’s is infecting all of London, just as surely as Jo’s smallpox infects the novel’s heroine, Esther Summerson.
If this society is to be redeemed, Dickens insists, it will be through the values represented by Esther Summerson. Jo’s broom cannot sweep away the mud of Tom-all-Alone’s, but the clarity and warmth of Esther’s sympathetic love may be capable, if it becomes contagious, of illuminating this world and dissipating the fog. Esther and Allan Woodcourt, the physician who attends Jo at his death, marry, and we believe that their family can contain, in miniature, the order and love that must be transmitted to the larger society if it is to be saved. But Dickens is not sure, at this point, if what Esther and Allan represent can withstand the evils of London: they set up household in a country cottage, provided by the benevolent John Jarndyce, Esther’s guardian (Ayer 79).
The Crimean War, which broke out in March, 1854, prevented the government from addressing the domestic social ills Dickens had been railing against since at least as early as Oliver Twist. The inept government, which cannot seem to get beyond just muddling along, is captured brilliantly in the portrayal of the Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit , published in monthly numbers from December, 1855, to June, 1857. The dominant symbol of the novel is imprisonment, and society itself becomes the prison of its inhabitants. Dickens had begun the novel, significantly, with the title “Nobody’s Fault” in mind, but later entitled the work after its heroine, Amy Dorrit. Amy is the daughter of the “Father of the Marshalsea,” who has been confined in debtors’ prison for twenty five years. Arthur Clennam, whose gloomy childhood resembles what David Copperfield’s would have been had he been raised by the Murdstones, is a middle-aged man looking for meaning in life. Clennam and Little Dorrit escape the imprisonment of this stultifying society by discovering their love for each other, a love that is difficult to discover since Arthur is so much older than Amy and she has the goodness, and physical resemblance, of a child. Importantly for Dickens, Arthur and Amy are willing to engage the fallen society of London and to attempt to change it. After their wedding Arthur and Amy “went quietly down into the roaring streets, inseparable and blessed; and as they passed along in sunshine and shade, the noisy and the eager, and the arrogant and the froward and the vain, fretted, and chafed, and made their usual uproar.” Unlike Esther Summerson and her husband, Arthur and Amy stay in London where they live “a modest life of usefulness and happiness.” (Kaplan 174)
On April 30, 1859, Dickens launched the weekly journal, All the Year Round . To get the journal off to a good start, the first installment of A Tale of Two Cities appeared in the inaugural issue and continued in weekly installments until November 26, 1859. Set in the time of the French Revolution, this novel once again looks at the potential for revolutionary violence Dickens had explored in Barnaby Rudge . If the ruling class in England does not take seriously the lesson of the French Revolution, Dickens appears to be saying, such a violent outburst is possible again. While Dickens deplores violence, his sympathies are clearly with the victims of oppression. Only the kind of sacrificial love represented by Sydney Carton’s willing sacrifice of himself for his loved ones will be able to prevent such a revolution if society continues along its present course
In an effort to pick up declining sales of All the Year Round , Dickens once again published a novel in weekly installments of the journal. Great Expectations ran from December 1, 1860, to August 3, 1861. Dickens and Catherine had recently separated after over twenty years of marriage. Perhaps in an attempt to come to terms with his personal unhappiness, Dickens returns to the first person narrator in Great Expectations. To assure that he did not fall into “unconscious repetition” as he wrote this story of a “hero to be a boy-child, like David,” he reread David Copperfield (World Book CD-ROM)
In Our Mutual Friend, published in twenty installments from May, 1864, to November, 1865, Dickens makes still another advance in his artistic vision. Dominated by the dust heaps and the spiritual wasteland they symbolize, the vision of this novel suggests that we must die to ourselves if we are to be redeemed, and society must forego material pursuits if it is to become spiritually and culturally whole. The recurrent theme of death and resurrection indicates Dickens’s developing understanding of the meaning of personal fulfillment that he explores in earlier novels, particularly in David Copperfield and Great Expectations ( Smith 193).
Our Mutual Friend ends with Mortimer Lightwood, who feels that, like Dickens, he has “the eyes of Europe upon him” as he tells his stories at the Veneerings’ dinner parties, seeking the true voice of society while he reports the story of Eugene and Lizzie. He discovers it in Twemlow, who knows what it means to act nobly. Dickens must himself have been wondering about the voice of society with regard to his personal situation, and probably with Mortimer’s perspective. Neither Dickens nor Mortimer participates directly in the happiness of those they tell stories about. But they share the vision and take joy in seeing the results of the stories and the effects those stories have on their audiences (Ackroyd 195).
Dickens died June 9, 1870, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. In a letter to Forster, Carlyle sends his condolences: “I am profoundly sorry for you and indeed for myself and for us all. It is an event world-wide; a unique of talents suddenly extinct; and has “eclipsed,” we too may say, “the harmless gaiety of nations.’ No death since 1866 the year of Carlyle’s wife’s death has fallen on me with such a stroke. No literary man’s hitherto ever did. The good, the gentle, high-gifted, ever-friendly, noble Dickens, — every inch of him an Honest Man.” ( Ackroyd 215)
One of the predominant themes in the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is a comparison between a person’s natural personality and code of ethics and the nurtured code instilled in the person through his or her experience with family or society. This is a very important matter in that it profoundly affects a person’s character. The strong effects of a person’s upbringing are demonstrated by Estella. Estella is, by nature, a very caring person. She develops a relationship with Pip and, on more than one occasion, blatantly warns him of the danger of his pursuing her. She, therefore, is obviously very concerned for Pip. However, there is another side to Estella. Miss Havisham took Estella in at a very young age and, still embittered by her experience with her former fiancee, determined that she would use Estella as her weapon against mankind. She, therefore, molded Estella into a cruel, cold, and unemotional person through years of training. The contrast between Estella’s kind and caring side and her cruel and heartless side, imposed upon her by Miss Havisham, provides the comparison of nature and nurture. The same type of contrasting personality develops in Pip as he works toward being a gentleman of London’s high society. Pip, at the beginning of the novel, has a strong conscience and a good sense of right and wrong. However, as the novel progresses and Pip becomes educated and becomes the beneficiary of great wealth, the effects of the nurturing of society and the values of society begin to show in his personality. He who had once been so happy with Joe and Biddy was now ashamed to know them. Pip’s experience in London taught him that the way to achieve personal happiness and satisfaction was to try to increase one’s own wealth and status, regardless of how the actions he takes in attempting to ascertain this objective might affect others. Therefore, selfishness and egotism are often characteristics that result from the nurture of society, as is the case with both Estella and Pip. To be sure, the evil characteristics of Estella’s personality were a result of Miss Havisham’s selfish desire to use Estella to serve as her weapon to get back at all men. As for Pip, he continually hurts Joe with no hesitation believing that he must do so in order to gain the respect of the elite of society. Again, the obvious contrast between Pip’s original sense of morality and his self-centered personality during the time of his expectations provide a contrast between the effects of nature and nurture. The greatest difference between these two influences is their manner for gaining happiness. Nature teaches Pip and Estella to serve others. It is clear at the end of the novel that neither one of these characters gained satisfaction by hurting others; furthermore, Pip’s only true source of happiness for the duration of his expectations was his service to Herbert. Nature, however, teaches that happiness is achieved through serving one’s self. This side advocates the use of deceit, manipulation, oppression, and back-stabbing in order to help one’s self. Such is the attitude of Pumblechook and Miss Havisham (previous to her conversion). They often deceive and manipulate others in order to gain what they want. Though they are both successful, it is apparent that neither one of them is happy. In this novel, Dickens demonstrates that the only way to successfully attain self-satisfaction and happiness is to follow the course of nature and help others. Pip, who was never happy during the time of his expectations though he had wealth, achieves his happiness at the end of the novel by reverting to his nature and becoming a moral, caring, and helpful person whose greatest concern was to make others happy.
One of the most interesting and mysterious themes in Great Expectations is infatuation and how it compares and relates to love. Infatuation, which is really nothing but a big crush or obsession, is often termed as “false love. ” This is so because when a person has feelings of infatuation, he or she usually thinks they are in love. In all reality, he or she is only experiencing a new excitement of seeing what it is like to have feelings for another, even if those feelings are only of physical attraction. That is why infatuation tends to be much more frequent with younger people than for older people. Young people are experiencing feelings for the first time and really do not know what all of their feelings mean. They do not know how deep the feelings are, how long they will last, or if the feelings are for all of the right reasons. Older people have feelings just like younger people, but they also have old feelings to compare their new feelings with. The feelings they experienced in the past can be used to compare the present feelings they have and therefore make it easier to determine if their present feelings are of love or infatuation. Younger people must experience feelings with many other people before they can conclude whether or not their feelings are of love.
As Pip shows in the novel, a person can be infatuated with another and then later on fall in love with them. Pip felt infatuation towards Estella for most of the book. Towards the end however, he indicated his love for her when he expressed his concern over her marrying Drummle. This act shows love because although Pip realized he could not marry Estella, he wanted someone to marry her who would treat her like a queen. This was out of his love. If he had still been infatuated, he still would have been against Estella marrying Drummle, but only out of jealousy.
Overall, infatuation is really a good thing. It provides experience for people to grow and learn about what kind of qualities they cherish and what kind of people they like to spend time with. If a person is infatuated and then finds out that the person they were infatuated with has a quality they do not like, it could teach a moral lesson about how the inside of a person is frequently more important than the outside. Infatuation is therefore a tool to the overall growth and development of a human being. It leads us to discover our feelings and ultimately, love.
Bondage is one of the most significant themes within Great Expectations. Bondage is a state of slavery or servitude in which one’s freedom to choose or act is limited by some force. In the case of Great Expectations this binding force is both external and internal. Internal bondage is the state of being bound only by one’s personal attitudes, beliefs, and ideals. External bondage, on the other hand, is a constrainment by something externally, usually another character. However, it can be said that characters are not bound specifically to other characters, but rather to their own self-delusions regarding the other characters and their environments.
In Great Expectations, Pip is the prime example of bondage. He is bound externally to Estella, Miss Havisham, and later Magwitch. Internally, he is bound by his shame, guilt, fear, pride, and his expectations. Remarkably, all of these forms of bondage are inter-related or are sources of each other. For example, Pip’s bondage to Estella through his infatuation lead to both his heightened sense of shame and desire for expectations. His shame in turn leads him to seek gentility and fulfill his expectations to become a gentleman. Ultimately, his expectations distilled a sense of pride within him that was the source of all further bondage. It was his pride that allowed him to envision Miss Havisham as his benefactor and all the other “poor dreams.” Thus, he became bound to Miss Havisham as the source of his wealth and expectations. Bondage, moreover, both internal and external, is the result of the same influences: fear, shame, guilt, and pride. Externally, for example, Pip’s fear and guilt allowed him to become bound to Magwitch. He feared being responsible for the capture and subsequent death of Magwitch so much that he allowed himself to become bound to him as his protector. Internally, Pip’s shame and pride kept him from going back to the forge and to good, simple Joe.
Pip demonstrated that bondage can only be lifted by the truth. The truth is not easy to come by, however, as reason alone and the logic of others cannot reveal it to the heart of an individual. Constantly, Biddy revealed the truth to an unaccepting Pip. Pride must be first eradicated before the truth can be accepted. In most cases, as was the case with Pip, pride can only be diminished through profound suffering. Only when Pip was naked of all pride could he realize the truth and, thus, free himself
Dickens, our greatest storyteller, may not have discovered the personal happiness in his own marriage that Eugene and John Harmon, the Pip and David of his last completed novel, achieve, but in the end he achieves personal fulfillment through his art. David realizes, in the life of his novel, what Dickens saw represented in Mary Hogarth, and what was not attainable in his own life. That Dickens’s own fulfillment is in creating the vision rather than attaining it here may be explained in part by the fact that Dickens is an artist and in part by the kind of artist he is. According to Forster, Not his genius only, but his whole nature, was too exclusively made up of sympathy for, and with, the real in its most intense form, to be sufficiently provided against failure in the realities around him. There was for him no ‘city of the mind’ against outward ills, for inner consolation and shelter. It was in and from the actual he still stretched forward to find the freedom and satisfaction of an ideal, and by his very attempts to escape the world he was driven back into the thick of it. But what he would have sought there, it supplies to none; and to get the infinite out of anything so finite, has broken many a stout heart.
Dickens has shown us how the real can more nearly approximate his vision of the ideal through his novels. In his later years he told those stories in brilliant public readings from his novels in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and in America, where people stood all night in lines one half mile long to purchase tickets to see him perform.