How Does Dickens Use The Symbols In Great Expectations?

Decent Essays
In all of his writing, Charles Dickens frequently uses symbolism to give more depth to his characters and his plot. Therefore, it should be no surprise that in the novel Great Expectations, there are several symbols scattered throughout the book. Anything, if analyzed long enough, has a hidden meaning in the form of any literary device. The different settings in this novel are no exception- nearly all of them stand for more than what’s on the surface. However, it is safe to state that the symbolism in many of these locations track back to the underlying themes of class, growth, and association.

Several settings in Great Expectations are symbols of the differences in class. The Kent Marshes in which we begin the novel are the first example
…show more content…
He initially believed that London would be a bustling city full of gentleman and upper-class citizens. However, as soon as he stepped foot in the city, Pip “became fascinated by the dismal atmosphere of the place,” (Dickens, p.__) and he gives varying descriptions of the grimy, bloody atmosphere over the next several chapters. Just as much, Pip believed that his benefactor was Miss Havisham and that he would be destined for Estella with a life of luxuries, only to discover the reality that Provis, a scrappy convict with a bounty on his head, was his sponsor all along. Furthermore, the young gentleman believed that his rise in status would distance him from his lifelong association with criminals and poor wealth- but his expectations only brought him closer to both of those things. Association with Magwitch tied Pip into the lifelong conflict between the convict and Compeyson, and the outcome of his expectations was ultimately debt. No matter what he inherited or where he resided, Pip could not cut his permanent ties with his past.

Looking back on the examples compiled, it’s clear how much more meaning Dickens’ symbolism adds to characters and story of Great Expectations. By analyzing these texts, we are also able to gain a deeper appreciation for the author’s work and maintain a better understanding of how communities in this
Get Access