Great Expectations Notes on Guilt

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In analysing Great Expectations, Dorothy Van Ghent maintains that there are two kinds of crime that drive the moral plot of the novel: the crime of parent against child and the calculated social crime "of turning the individual into a machine". Thus, in the same way that the parent or the parent figure abuses the child, social authority also participates in creating parents who participate in the dehumanization of the children. (sons heir of fathers sin, repeat in society over n over) Van Ghent puts forward many of her ideas in an extremely extravagant, descriptive and floury manner, which at times is difficult to follow.

I feel that Van Ghent approaches `Great Expectations` from a mainly`Psychoanalytical literary criticism approach`, because her analysis of the text is primarily concerned with the idea of feelings, desires and guilt that Pip carries and because guilt and desire are repressed by Pip they can only appear indirectly in the text. In Great Expectations Pip`s repressed guilt and ….occur and appear indirectly through (others???) ………

Van Ghent identifies a psychic context for Great Expectations in which I feel she focuses on Pip`s psycho drama competing desires of trying to redeem himself of sins (his and his fathers) and of wanting to attain the status of being a gentleman and no longer being coarse and common. I feel this represents a psychoanalytical approach because these issues frame Van Ghent analysis, above the significance of the social, historical or other contexts which could be used by critics. Van Ghent focuses on the “unconscious motives and feelings of a character (Pip) depicted in the text” – one of the psychoanalytical theorists do (P100 Beginning theory)
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