Is Great Expectations a Conventional Bildungsroman?

Topics: Great Expectations, Estella Havisham, Charles Dickens Pages: 2 (819 words) Published: August 25, 2013
A Bilsdungroman can be described as “as a process of movement and adjustment from childhood to early maturity." This means that a Bildungsroman plot can normally be broken into three stages, which is childhood, adolesce and adulthood or the moment where they reach maturity. This essay will study Pip’s journey through the book, along with the turning point of the book and if the journey that Pip takes can be counted as a ‘conventional’ Bildungsroman. The organisation of the novel gives a hint to technique of Bildungsroman used. Dickens splits the book into three volumes. Dickens writes at the end of the first and second volume that “this is the end of the first (second) stage of Pip’s development.” It is this technique that gives the impression that this story is a Bildungsroman. By putting the book into three volumes, you get the three stages of a Bildungsroman separated. Pip lives his childhood in the forge, then moves to London for his adolescence, then completes the bildungsroman by completing the circle and coming back home to the forge, now mature enough to see some of the mistakes he made during his time of growing up. It is this journey that is seen as a conventional Bildungsroman. As the narrator and the protagonist of the story, Great Expectations is a story that is based solely on Pip and his journey. The development of his character starts when he is a child. By being at home and being Joe’s apprentice, the character stays within his own boundaries. He does not grow but rather stay in the confines that his older sister has kept him in. He does not want to cause trouble, as shown by the incident with the convict. Pip has his childlike innocence almost stripped from him in that moment. But after the convict incident and as Pip starts to see Miss Havisham and in turn, starts to see Estella. Mrs Joe’s reaction to this pushes Pip into a “materialist midset” and he begins to be ashamed of the life he leads. Pip was content with the life he has as he does...
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