A Tale of Two Cities

Not-So-Great Expectations College

As simplistic and politically impartial as Victorian novels and their common familial themes of love and companionship may seem, there is customarily a greater sociopolitical concern inserted within the narrative for the reader of the time to have registered. Paul Thomas Murphy expresses this in Toward a Working Class Canon: Literary Criticism in British Working-class Periodicals, 1816-1858 with “Literary discourse in every working-class periodical is both an attempt to influence and the product of influence” (Murphy 13). The same can be said for Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. The societal undertones within had their own pseudo-manipulative propaganda-esque intentions for the hierarchical dynamics of such lower-tiered classes, particularly in regards to consciously quelling social unrest and constructing a transparent parallel between Dickens’ perception of those poverty-stricken individuals and women.     

Manipulative notwithstanding, Dickens nevertheless had arguably a rather sound motive for his want to foster certain dispositions in his audience. For instance, an intellectually empowered lower class was something that he tremendously feared, as Peter Scheckner explains in...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 945 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7602 literature essays, 2153 sample college application essays, 318 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in