Study Guide

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens in Structuralism

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

This is a book that hypes itself up starting from the title. Charles Dickens' Great Expectations tells the story of the orphan Pip, detailing his childhood, his sudden surprise gift of a ton of money, and his various relationships with some strange characters, including the profoundly weird old lady Ms. Havisham, who never takes off her wedding dress from a million years ago; her adopted daughter Estella, whom Pip falls in love with even though she's a total brat; and Abel Magwitch, his socially awkward but very rich and surprisingly kind benefactor.

From a structuralist perspective, Great Expectations is great at fulfilling your expectations of the kind of book called a Bildungsroman, or a coming-of-age novel, which traces a character's growth from childhood to adulthood. Other famous novels in this category include Voltaire's Candide, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and Johann Wolfgang Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship.

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