Great Expectations

Dramatic Symmetry in Great Expectations 12th Grade

In the 1861 novel Great Expectations, Charles Dickens tells the story of a poor English boy named Pip who faces a number of complicated situations and characters on his way to becoming a gentleman. Dickens’ writing style, while indicative of the time period, is notable for its use of dramatic symmetry. Dickens consistently draws parallels between characters and major events throughout the book to enhance their importance.

Most of the parallels, particularly between characters, are developed over the full course of the novel. For example, when Pip is young his attention is fixed firmly on Estella. As he grows, he acknowledges the intensity of his love might not be a good thing, going as far as to say, “I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.” Later in the book, Pip is a grown man and has resolved to marry Biddy, proposing by a letter which ends with “…if you can tell me you will go through the world with me, you will surely make it a better world for me...” Pip’s deepest desire is to be with Estella, but as an adult he understands it is in everyone’s interest for him to...

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