Great Expectations

by: Charles Dickens

Setting

Great Expectations is set in nineteenth-century England, mainly in London and the surrounding marshlands where Pip grows up. The settings are described through Pip’s point of view, and highlight both his dissatisfaction and his idealism. As Pip becomes increasingly discontented with home and with everything around him being “all coarse and common,” he becomes repelled by the flat marshlands. Comparing them to his prospects he says, “how flat and low both were.” Despite Pip’s ambitious hopes for London, when he arrives in the city Pip finds it “rather ugly, crooked, narrow, and dirty.” Because Pip is constantly chasing his “great expectations,” he can’t see the value or appeal of any of the places he encounters. At the end of the novel, when Pip returns to his hometown humbled and eager to reconcile with Joe and Biddy, he finds that “the June weather was delicious. The sky was blue… I thought the countryside more beautiful and peaceful by far than I had ever known it to be yet.” Because Pip has finally made peace with his history and identity, he can finally appreciate the beauty of the world around him.