Depiction of Victorian Era in the Novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

  • Farhana Haque Brac University, Bangladesh
Keywords: Great Expectations, Victorian Society, Pip, Estella, Miss Havisham, Upper class, Lower class


Charles Dickens’ Great Expectation actually did reflect the Victorian society and therefore the morality of that era’s people inside of the novel. Since we know that Victorian era basically present some features such as virtue, strength, thrift, manners, cleanliness, honesty and chastity. These are the morals that Victorian people used to hold with high esteem. In this novel Great Expectations, Dickens has created some Victorian characters whom we have seen both in good working way or not at all. But the protagonist named Pip was dynamic and he went through some several changes and dealt with different and significant moral issues. Somehow Pip left behind all the values he was raised with. Because Miss Havisham and Estella have corrupted Pip with rich life. Greed, beauty and arrogance were his ingredient of immoral life. The other characters like Joe and Biddy were static characters throughout the entire novel and became noticeable to be the manifestation of what we call as ideal Victorians. The main heroin of this novel was Estella with whom Pip thought he had some love connection. Hence, Estella has been presented as a good in the sense of potentiality and turned morally bad. Miss Havisham, who was basically a corrupt woman and she engraved the center of the novel. Great Expectations did disclose how was the situation of Victorian society through some important features such as higher class, corrupted judicial system between rural and urban England. Here in this novel, Dickens was concern about the education system in Victorian era where the lower class people get less opportunities of getting proper education. From the beginning to the end of this novel, Dickens explored some significant issues regarding higher and lower class system of Victorian society which did fluctuate from the greatest woeful criminal named Magwitch to the needy people of the swamp country, where Joe and Biddy were the symbol of that regime. After that we can proceed to the middle class family where Pumblechook was the person to represent that regime. Last but not the least Miss Havisham symbolized and bear flag of very rich and sophisticated Victorian woman who has represented the higher class society in the novel Great Expectations. Hence we can say Great Expectations has talked and displayed the class system of Victorian England and the characters of this novel therefore also did uphold the true reflection of Victorian era.