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Great Expectations as a Bildungsroman

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Yarram F Period Sai Yarram Professor Faley 12 IB HL English 9 December 2012 The Bildungsroman Expectations Although Great Expectations seems like an intriguing story of Pips' childhood and adulthood filled with love, disappointments, hopes, and success; it is actually a beautifully written Bildungsroman. According to The Novel of Formation as Genre by Marianne Hirsch, a Bildungsroman must contain four essential characteristics and Pip fulfills all four of these characteristics. The first characteristic is that a Bildungsroman must tell "a story of a single individuals' growth and development within the context of a defined social order". As the character matures he must "search for meaningful existence within society". The second characteristic is that the, the main character must endure some form of discontent from his early stages of childhood. The third characteristic is the path for maturation must be long and plodding where his judgment is really called into question and he questions his needs and wants. ...read more.


Havisham, the reader knows about Pips' beginnings and his hardships. He goes through discomfort through his childhood because he was an orphan ever since he was born and has been raised by his sister Mrs. Joe "by hand". Joe who is a blacksmith by trade, assumes that Pip will join in his footsteps and apprentice to Joe but after he meets Ms. Havisham his view about the "common people" is immediately changed even though he is a commoner himself. He despises his "course and rough hands" and even wishes he wasn't brought up by the way Jim brought him up. He does not have a close relationship with anyone even his sister because she is almost twenty years older than him, the closet person he can relate to is Jim who does not understand him once he beings to see Ms. Havisham. As a matter of fact, Mrs. Joe hates Pip and often beats him for the simplest reasons thus forging a mutual friendship with Joe. ...read more.


This can be viewed as Pips' turning point as he realizes that his "expectations" have been fake and he has hurt the people he cared about the most who are Joe and Biddy. He matures and realizes Biddy's' love over Estella and reconnects with Joe and Herbert, a critical characteristic of Bildungsroman. Pip ultimately comes in terms with the society, he becomes a gentlemen in business and even forgives Ms. Havisham for what she has done to both Estella and Pip. He tries his best to save Magwitch but Magwitch is hanged. This shows that Great Expectations is indeed a Bildungsroman but to top things off Dickens slightly changes up the ending so that Joe marries Biddy and Estella and Pip finally reunite. Estella leaves Drummle but the what the readers don't know is whether they finally marry or if its' just a finally meeting before they both depart. MLA Formatting Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. United States of America: W. W. Norton & Company Inc., 1999. Print. ...read more.

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