Great Expectations

On the Move

In literature, an author will often choose to portray a turning point in a novel through a change in setting. This transformation alerts the reader to take notice of not simply the plot development but also many other things about the work. For example, the setting may allow one to draw parallels between the story and the bigger picture, in part by examining the author's biography and the time in which the literary work was written. Likewise, in Great Expectations, Pip's travel between two separate settings of England - from the marsh country of Kent in the southeast to the city of London - mirrors author Charles Dickens's own move during childhood, as well as the universal population shift from the country to the city as a result of the changes induced by the Industrial Revolution.

Pip's story starts with his family - that is, his sister Mrs. Joe Gargery and her husband Joe - in a small village in the misty marsh country. Here the main character, an orphan, is brought up "by hand" and it is expected that he will someday become apprenticed to Joe, the town blacksmith (6). Although Dickens himself was not an orphan by the traditional definition, he was forced to become self-sufficient later on in his...

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