Great Expectations

by: Charles Dickens

Genre

Main ideas Genre

Great Expectations is a classic example of a bildungsroman, a category of literature that focuses on the progression of a central character as he or she matures into an adult and experiences significant psychological growth along the way. The novel begins with Pip’s earliest recollection of naming himself, due to his “infant tongue.” By the end, Pip is established as a mature professional. Not only does Pip physically grow and change over the course of the book, he also dramatically alters his understanding of what he thinks is important in life. Much of the plot is driven by his ambitions and hopes to rise to a higher station in life since he is “restlessly aspiring [and] discontented,” but by the end of the novel, Pip has been humbled and has a deeper understanding of true happiness. The close focus on Pip’s journey to psychological and emotional maturity, made evident through a first-person narration, is a trademark characteristic of the bildungsroman genre.