Author Charles Dickens
Type of work Novel
Genres Bildungsroman, social criticism, autobiographical fiction
Time and place written London, 1860-1861
Date of first publication Published serially in England from December 1860 to August 1861; published in book form in England and America in 1861
Publisher Serialized in
Climax A sequence of climactic events occurs from Chapter 51 to Chapter 56: Miss Havisham’s burning in the fire, Orlick’s attempt to murder Pip, and Pip’s attempt to help Magwitch escape London.
Setting (time) Mid-nineteenth century
Settings (place) Kent and London, England
Point of view First person
Falling action The period following Magwitch’s capture in Chapter 54, including Magwitch’s death, Pip’s reconciliation with Joe, and Pip’s reunion with Estella eleven years later
Tone Comic, cheerful, satirical, wry, critical, sentimental, dark, dramatic, foreboding, Gothic, sympathetic
Themes Ambition and the desire for self-improvement (social, economic, educational, and moral); guilt, criminality, and innocence; maturation and the growth from childhood to adulthood; the importance of affection, loyalty, and sympathy over social advancement and class superiority; social class; the difficulty of maintaining superficial moral and social categories in a constantly changing world
Motifs Crime and criminality; disappointed expectations; the connection between weather or atmosphere and dramatic events; doubles (two convicts, two secret benefactors, two invalids, etc.)
Symbols The stopped clocks at Satis House symbolize Miss Havisham’s attempt to stop time; the many objects relating to crime and guilt (gallows, prisons, handcuffs, policemen, lawyers, courts, convicts, chains, files) symbolize the theme of guilt and innocence; Satis House represents the upper-class world to which Pip longs to belong; Bentley Drummle represents the grotesque caprice of the upper class; Joe represents conscience, affection, loyalty, and simple good nature; the marsh mists represent danger and ambiguity.