Monthly Archives: December 2014

Mixing It Up: A Study of Dickens Re-Mixes

There have been countless “re-mixes” inspired by the work of Charles Dickens. These re-mixes come in many forms: books, television shows, movies, and even musicals. Our group was tasked with finding and analyzing several of these different re-mixes. We wanted to compare these new adaptations to the original works by Dickens to try to find and explain any common trends and changes. Due to the incredibly large number of Dickens re-mixes that exist, we decided to focus on two of the most commonly re-made Dickens stories. Each member of our group researched one re-mix of Oliver Twist and one re-mix of A Christmas Carol. We then created a Tumblr page in order to post our findings.

When studying our chosen re-mixes, we looked at a variety of topics. For example, we analyzed the medium that was used to create the re-mix (whether it was a book, film, etc.) and then discussed possibilities of why the creators made this choice and how effective it was. By looking at re-mixes that covered a wide range of media, we were able to examine several different ways that the novels of Charles Dickens could be changed by the addition of pictures or music and the effect that these changes had on the story. We also analyzed the differences and similarities in plot and dialogue between the re-mix and the original text. Then, using Tumblr, we were able to divide our discoveries into easily-absorbed snippets presented in a visually intuitive manner. The use of the hashtag system allows a visitor to the page to search for and easily find information relevant to their interests. Choosing to create a Tumblr page also gave us the ability to intersperse images, video, and audio in with the text to give quick, sensory context to the information we present. The Tumblr format also lets us break up the analytic posts with humorous diversions, keeping the reader’s attention and giving a greater sense of Dickens’ continuing influence on the modern world.

For Oliver Twist, we looked at a 2005 movie adaptation by the same name, as well as Oliver! The Musical, Oliver and Company from Disney, a “Cozy Classics” book version of Oliver Twist, a silent film from 1922, and a film titled Twisted. These re-mixes provide a sample that represents multiple media and covers a wide span of time. While each of these adaptations was unique in its own way, there were some recurring patterns that appeared in most of these works. The first is that the plot line of these re-mixes was, for the most part, simpler than the original Oliver Twist. Characters would often be left out (such as Monks and the Maylies) in order to simplify the story. This is understandable, as the original novel has a lot of content that is difficult to communicate through the medium of these re-mixes. Another common change was that which was made to the character Fagin. In several of these re-mixes, Fagin provides a source of humor and is a much more sympathetic character than he is in Dickens’s novel. This could be because of the sheer amount of “bad guys” in Oliver Twist. Changing Fagin’s character allows more emphasis to be put on a different, more appropriate antagonist (such as Sikes) while also adding humor to the story. A more thorough analysis of the Oliver Twist re-mixes we studied can be found on our Tumblr page.

Unlike Oliver Twist, most of the re-mixes we looked at for A Christmas Carol stayed fairly true to the original story. These re-mixes were The Muppet’s Christmas Carol, a movie adaptation from 1951 originally titled Scrooge, an 1844 dramatization of A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Carol graphic novels, and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. Nearly all of these versions were fairly accurate portrayals of Dickens’s story. While changes for definitely made (such as including muppets as main characters), the storyline itself remained consistent. This is likely because the story is so simplistic that it is able to be adapted a multitude of ways and still work. A Christmas Carol is a holiday classic for a reason, and the story has endured for years without undergoing any prominent changes. It is difficult to improve the story, and clearly most (successful) re-mixes did not try.


For more information, here’s the link to our Tumblr page!


Contributors: Courtney Cavallo, Klarisa Loft, John Panus, Rachel Campbell, and Michael Adams


Group Members: Erin Duffy, Nivedita Rajan, Max Garnaat, Matt Spitzer, & Alexis Donahue


The purpose of this project was to research the correlation between Charles Dickens’ writings and personal life. In order to examine these two aspects in a coherent manner, we utilized the Timeline JS software to create two separate timelines: one detailing his publication history, the other detailing his personal one. Along with some basic preliminary research, we were able to find some strong parallels between the two and determined that the events of Dickens’ personal life were unusually influential on his writing in that nearly every work featured a person, place or event that occurred in reality.



Timeline [x]

A free open-source tool, TimelineJS, sends users a simple Google Drive Excel spreadsheet, and this is all that is needed for the construction of the timeline. While it is easy enough to enter the data in the self-explanatory columns (Start Date, Text, Media, etc.), some have nifty features that require a bit of tinkering. Tags, for example, allow a timeliner to stack multiple lines on top of each other, thus not only advancing in time, but showing different aspects or types of events separated from each other. Type allows for “eras” to be shown as a span of time, encompassing the individual events within that range.

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Beyond the simple input of dated items, a user needs a little bit of encoding knowledge in order to actually be able to embed their timelines on websites–, for example, does not allow the plug-in required to add it (though does). The reason for this is that JS stands for Javascript, and Javascript is not considered secure enough by To get around the issue of presenting the timelines in a viewable format for the class to be able to view, and to display our work, we researched and located a website generator that allows Javascript to be embedded in the construction of the site. The section of code that the TimelineJS generator provides cannot be simply copy-pasted. It is not a link. We found that is the most suitable method for displaying the timeline in a reasonable manner.

Another cool feature, Hash Bookmarks, allows individual items in the timeline to be linked to, as each item adds to the URL.



It became clear as our research proceeded that Dickens was highly inspired by his own experiences and trials in life when writing his works. One would be hard-pressed to find a significant moment from his life that did not bleed through into his writing in some form, from his professional careers to his romantic leanings to his time at home. One of the earliest examples was his experience with child labor: at the age of ten, Dickens moved to a poor neighborhood in London with his family, and two years later his father was sent to a debtor’s prison, forcing the young Dickens into a blacking factory to support his family. The neighborhood and workhouse in question later came to influence the writing of Oliver Twist, one of his earliest novels.

After his poor experience in the workhouse during his youth, Dickens attended a poorly run academy (inspiring portrayals of similar schools in Nicholas Nickelby and David Copperfield) for two years, before dropping out to work as an office by in a law firm. His work with legal clerks and professionals would help inspire characters like Jaggers and Wemmick from Great Expectations, Mr. Guppy from Bleak House, and Uriah Heep from David Copperfield as well. Another interesting tie to Dickens’ professional life lies in his zeal for acting and performance: he strongly considered becoming a professional actor in his youth, and only decided against it after missing an audition due to illness. Not only would this love of public speaking and mimicry return with his wildly successful speaking tours, but in several of his novels as well, with characters like Nicholas Nickelby or Mr. Wopsle showing his enduring fondness for the stage.

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At a young age, Dickens fell in love with a beautiful but cold and distant woman, Maria Beadnell, whose parents forbade any relationship between the two and who had little interest in Dickens regardless. The idea of seemingly hopeless or unrequited love that is interrupted by circumstance or economic standing is visited in several Dickens works, including Great Expectations with the character of Estella and David Copperfield with Dora. Another intriguing woman that found her way into Dickens’ writing was his young sister-in-law, Mary Scott Horgarth, whose early death was frequently idealized by the writer. She was his inspiration for the characters of Rose from Oliver Twist and Little Nell from The Old Curiosity Shop whose death was based on Mary’s early demise. Though those were two of the most specific examples, the idea of the young, beautiful, unfailingly polite lady that often dies suddenly repeats frequently in Dickens’ work, forming the basis of dozens of his characters.

Not only did parts of Dickens’ past repeat in his fiction, but certain aspects of his writing seem to have come through to his real life. He went so far as to name his daughter Dora after his character Dora Spenlow, the child bride of David Copperfield, and he nicknamed his son Francis “the Chickenstalker” after the character of Mrs. Chickenstalker from “The Chimes.” His son, Henry Fielding Dickens, was obviously named after Henry Fielding, who was one of Dickens’ favourite authors. Interestingly enough, Dickens’ almost named little Henry ‘Oliver’ after the author Oliver Goldsmith, but refrained from doing so since he thought that his son would be teased as “Oliver asking for more” – clearly the sign of a thoughtful father!



Dickens’ writing and personal life were intrinsically connected, almost to the point of being difficult to separate one from the other. Though he did not start seriously writing until adulthood, his childhood was hugely formative in the direction his novels would take throughout his career. Clearly Dickens’ experiences in the slums had a massive effect on him, perhaps to the point of being traumatic, as “the plight of the poor” became an ongoing motif in his writing.

However, In spite of this discovery, the bulk of our research centered around Dickens as a husband and father, as we found many pieces of evidence contrary to the common perception of Dickens being an absent family man. His attention to his writing was unparalleled, and so his devotion to his family was rather limited by modern standards. Yet when he did focus on his family, his children in particular, he proved to be a strict disciplinarian and firm taskmaster who did not tolerate any sort of tomfoolery. That is not to say, however, that he was an uncaring father. His daughter Mary “Mamie” Dickens recalled a number of happy memories about her father in the posthumous biography she wrote, and Dickens took sole custody of the children after his divorce from Catherine Hogarth, believing that it was in the children’s best interests. Though this might be viewed as a controversial decision, it is clear that Dickens did genuinely believe that he was doing right by his children.

As we have seen from the timeline, many of his literary characters were based off of his children and other members of his extended family. In addition, many of his children were named after some of the literary giants of the century, a few of whom, such as Alfred, Lord Tennyson, were named godparents to the Dickens children. Though it is clear that the literary world was a huge factor in the lives of the Dickens family, we found that Dickens himself often allowed his personal feelings – namely romantic love and grief – to interfere with his writing. When his beloved sister-in-law Mary died, Dickens canceled that month’s installments of both The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist out of grief; he was similarly affected when his infant daughter Dora passed away.

While we believe it is fair to say that Dickens was not a model family man, he obviously cared deeply for his loved ones and was not quite the cold, stern father many perceive him to be. Dickens used his personal life as inspiration for his always growing literary career, which meant that he payed a great deal of attention to his family even though he wasn’t always present in their daily lives.


Works Cited

Ackroyd, Peter. Dickens: Public Life and Private Passion. London: BBC Worldwide Ltd, 2002. Print.

Dickens, Mary. My Father as I Recall Him. London: Roxburghe Press, 1886. Print.

Forster, John. The Life of Charles Dickens. London: Cambridge University Press., 1874. Print.

The Life and Times of Charles Dickens

Group Members: Lizzie Messana, Kristen Druse, Kelsey Teglash, Mike Stoianoff, Nikkel Gohel

Project Description:

For our semester long project, we aimed to create a variety of Explainers that covered different topics related to the Dickens canon we read in this class. To start, we worked together to establish what topics we should be addressing with our Explainers. We decided that we wanted to know more about the time period within which Dickens wrote, as that directly and significantly impacts his writing and our understanding of it. Our aim with these explainers was to provide potential Dickens’ readers with a good foundation about the era in which he lived, which will facilitate their understanding of the content and goals of his writings.

With this concept in mind, we faced the challenge of creating explainers that explored avenues of Victorian society different than those presented by each group weekly; we also needed ideas that weren’t too specific or broad and related to both Dickens and the Victorian era as a whole. Thus, during the class time designated for projects, we brainstormed in class and came up with a variety of topics that we wanted to explore and narrowed them down based on our personal interests. After deciding on our individual topics, we researched together in class and compiled a list of related resources concerning both the topics of our Explainers and different types of potential formatting. Finally, we individually pursued our chosen topics, collaborating with one another to create a number of Explainers. Once each explainer was finished, we convened a final time to discuss, critique, and compare our findings.


We used a variety of tools and formats to create our Explainers, including Prezi, Easelly, Piktochart, and Bitstrips. We also combed through the literature for relevant and poignant information. In this way, we thought we could better demonstrate the variety of potential formatting for Explainers and the different approaches available.

What we learned:

Through this project, not only did we learn more about Dickens and the time period in which he lived, wrote, and reformed, but we also learned how to more effectively find and utilize a variety of online tools, which help diversify the dissemination of information and more actively engage audiences in the material at hand. As for the content of our explainers, we learned about a variety of aspects of Victorian England.

To begin, we studied the religious landscape of Victorian era England, which allowed us to more deeply understand the audience to which Dickens was writing. Dickens’ time was marked by the influence of four major religious sects: the Church of England (Anglicanism), Evangelicalism, the Broad Church Party, and High Church Tractarianism. Our familiarity with the ideological characteristics of the mostly Anglicanized society enabled us to gain a fuller understanding of how his works would be received.

Next, we looked at the court system. Better understanding of the divisions in and the inequality of the Victorian court system is helpful when reading Bleak House as it explains the confines that the characters were functioning within. Bleak House is, more than anything else, an exploration of the flaws in the Court of Chancery, and understanding the structure of said court compared to the Courts of Common Law is helpful when attempting to dissect the very involved plot of this expansive novel.

We then moved to the social class system of Victorian society. The stringent social class system in Victorian England is a topic that Dickens addresses in all of his works. By further researching the demographics and class stratification of this period, it allowed us to better understand the context of each of the four novels we discussed this semester.

Looking more into the literature, we next researched the serialization of literature. Various technological and social progressions in Victorian times allowed serialization of literature to grow. The success of Dickens’ Pickwick Papers incited the serial literature market, inspiring other authors to write serial literature. The results of the spread of serialization helped incite reform across England.

Finally, we ended with a look into Dickens. The autobiographical nature of Dickens’ Great Expectations shows us that the greatest works are often drawn from our own personal struggles. We see that Pip is able to be a believable character with relatable problems because these are the very same problems that Dickens faced in some way or form.

Below are the explainers:

Religion in Victorian England

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Demographics of Victorian England  

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Dickens at a Distance Using Voyant

Voyant is an internet based tool that analyzes text in a numerical and graphical sense. Though it is fairly simple to use, Voyant offers endless number of ways to analyze one text. In our own analysis of Bleak House, we were able to input the text as a whole as well as by individual chapters and Esther’s narratives to give different perspectives to analyze the work from.

Thought, Light, Dark, Fog throughout novel

Graph 1

We discovered an interesting correlation amongst the words “thought”, “light”, “dark”, and “fog”, which then provided an avenue through which we as a group could thereby generate questions in regards to why these word frequencies are related in the way they are and what these relationships could potentially mean. While the novel opens with an influx of the word “fog” it sharply declines in its use after the first couple of chapters and is rarely present afterwards throughout the novel. In pages 5-6, Dickens opens the novel in an eerie, ominous, sort of manner by using the fog as a technique to symbolize the confusion and misery that has penetrated straight from the heart of Chancery and branched outwards into the streets of London. At the peak of the word “fog” plotted on the graph is the following excerpt:

“The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden- headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln’s Inn Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery. Never

can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth” (Dickens, 5-6).

Present in this imagery, beyond the “mud”, “mire”, and “fog”, is Chancery, which the fog appears to symbolize in regards to the institutional oppression of the court system and the misery it evokes, but also the confusion of the reader as they are being suddenly thrust into the story and the world of Bleak House “slipping and sliding” like the foot passengers on the streets of London as they try to get their bearings and find their grounding. In contrast to the word “fog”, the words “light” and “thought” appear to run relatively parallel to frequency and form of the other as the novel progresses and become prevalent at higher frequencies than that of the words “dark” and/or “fog”. Because of this, we interpreted the decline of fog and darkness to be related to the end of the Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce court case and the increase of light and thought to represent greater clarity and the lucidity that the end of the novel brings to the reader and the story.

Jarndyce, Good throughout Esther's narratives

Graph 2

Another option of looking at Bleak House using Voyant is by just selecting Esther’s narratives. By choosing the words “good” and “jarndyce” within the selected chapters, Voyant will produce a visual graph that can aid in the interpretation of how Esther perceives Jarndyce with good. The chart illustrates the inverse relationship between how Esther relates good to Jarndyce. We as readers were confused by this outcome, as Esther certainly is grateful for Jarndyce’s generosity and enjoys his company. However, we also know that even though Esther cares for Jarndyce, she is not in love with him and views him more as a guardian, as she often describes him as, than an equal. Though she is a very complaint character, this inverse relationship could possibly be interpreted as a very passive form of Esther’s frustration towards her relationship with Jarndyce as she falls in love with Allan Woodcourt. As the graph illustrates, the usage of “jarndyce” and “good” transform into a direct correlative relationship by the end of the nove.. This we associate with the change in Jarndyce and Esther’s engagement, as he releases her from their agreement to go be with Allan Woodcourt.

Chancery, Death throughout novel

Graph 3

By comparing the use of the words “Chancery” and “death” we found another interesting correlation.  For the majority of the novel, the relationship is directly proportional because the Court is stagnant and often lifeless.  Naturally, the beginning of the novel contains the most uses of “Chancery,” mostly due the first chapter’s focus on the court’s machinations, or lack thereof.  Both words are used fairly consistently through the “middle” of the novel, with small peaks and valleys occurring simultaneously.  During this interim, interpersonal relationships take the fore, and the suit is mentioned sparingly.  When the the suit finally ends and Richard dies, the correlation becomes inversely proportional; “Chancery” bottoms out and the usage of “death” increases.

Dedlock, Fashionable, Intelligence throughout novel

Graph 4


This chart details the relationship between the words “dedlock”, “fashionable”, and “intelligence” in the second chapter entitled “In Fashion.” The frequency of the words have an interesting pattern; we can see the data plateau for each of the words at some point in the chapter, and it occasionally correlates. In the beginning of the chapter, the Dedlocks are described alongside both fashion and intelligence fairly consistently. We can see that the curves for all three words have a positive correlation. At around the fourth segment of the chapter, both fashionable and intelligence plateau (the are used continuously and consistently), but Dedlock descends to the same level as intelligence. This leads the observer to wonder “why?” Is there a reason why the name Dedlock has the relationship with intelligence and fashionable that it does? At the parts of the chapter in which these plateaus and dips occur, Dickens uses words that refer to retention. At segment four in particular, the passage reads, “My Lady Dedlock, having conquered her world, fell not into the melting, but rather into the freezing, mood. An exhausted composure, a worn-out placidity, an equanimity of fatigue not to be ruffled by interest or satisfaction, are the trophies of her victory. She is perfectly well-bred” (Dickens). In light of both the graph and the text, one might conclude that the pattern of word usage is a reflection of the description of Lady Dedlock herself.

Dickens’ Maps Group

Project presented by Joseph Fennie, Hannah Glaser, Jacob Trost, Hannah Sugarman, and Kevin O’Connor

The maps engine group was tasked with creating a map or maps that showed information regarding Dickens and his works. We decided to create two separate maps, one focusing on Dickens’ actual life and another map that presented the important locations within the novels that we read. For the “Dickens’ Life Map” we added all important events from the time of Dickens’ birth to his death. In-between are important landmarks in his life such as his first job working for a London newspaper, the publication of his first work, and his reading tours in the United States. For the “Dickens’ Works Map” we included all the key locations in the four Dickens’ novels that we read this semester. Each location has a specific color corresponding to which novel it is from with a short description of the importance of the location to the novel.

To construct our maps we used a program called Google Maps Engine. This program allows the user to take a map of the world and pinpoint specific locations which can then be edited with text, photos, or video. The map markers can be colored so that they can be grouped together. For the Dickens’ Life Map we took information from biographies about his life and selected the most pertinent events to add to the map. We went in chronological order starting with his birth in England and traveling through his life from schooling to early work to ultimately becoming a successful writer who was able to travel to different countries. We showed the order of certain events by connecting them with a line that shows the direction in which Dickens’ life went (this can be seen in the map markers for his early life which are connected by a line showing which event occurred after the previous one). For the Dickens’ Works Map we selected the locations we found to be most important from each novel and added them to the map attributing a color to each one based on which novel it came from. For the most part, these locations are almost all around London or the surrounding area. Since most locations are visited several times we did not include lines to connect them for chronological order. We did, however, add information and sometimes photos about each location so that viewers can understand the importance of each location.

When creating the Dickens’ Works Map our group noticed a pattern that almost every important location is placed in or very near to London. We inferred three interesting things from this observation. First, although Dickens wrote about a very selective and specific location his influence was very far reaching. Secondly, the locations represent the social issues Dickens was trying to tackle during his lifetime. It shows the disparity between the lower and upper classes. The lower class characters generally reside in the center of London, the dirty, cheap areas. The upper class characters tend to reside outside of London, which represents a geographic phenomenon where one’s residency can reflect their socioeconomic status. Thirdly, a lot of locations in Dickens’ novels are important to his life. For example, one of his boyhood homes is the inspiration for the Cratchit’s home in A Christmas Carol, and the house Jarndyce from Bleak House lives in is based off of a home Dickens resided in while writing some of his novels. The creation of the maps in the Google Maps Engine allowed us to recognize the patterns that exist through the locations used in the novels and in Dickens’ life. The locations are just another manifestation of Dickens’ beliefs and personality. His criticism of society is apparent in them and his own personal attachment to them is apparent as well.

Here are the links to the two maps:

Charles Dickens’ Life Map:

Charles Dickens’ Works Map:



Colin Peartree, Cassandra Ballini, McKenna Miller, Alyssa Knott

The premise of this project was to add meaningful information to various Wikipedia pages of characters seen in Dickens novels. Our goal was to extend the online discussion of characters to promote deeper understanding of the characters through a more analytic lens. We hoped to spark more discussion on the character’s talk pages by providing a more analytic view of Dickens characters.

It was suggested that a good starting place for blog posts would be to consider some of the text from the ‘Talk’ page and begin to draft posts based on some points of interest the other Wiki users brought up. In general, the characters we chose to focus on did not have much information on their talk pages, which lead us to derive much of the focus from class discussion. Furthermore, most of the information found on each page was descriptive rather than analytic. The lack of analysis prompted us to attempt to include some deeper understanding of the characters in each edit. Since each edit was expected to prompt discussion, and potentially re-edits of our original additions, we made to sure to track the changes and regularly check for edits or discussion resulting from new information on the pages.

The things we learned in editing each Wikipedia page tended to mirror what we learned in reading each text, and what came up in class discussion. That is, each individual Wiki post served to extend findings discussed in class to the world at large. In order to add meaningful information to each character’s Wikipedia page, we had to understand each character in enough depth to accurately portray their roles in each of the novels. This deepened understanding of each character provided valuable insight into the topics discussed in class. The posts were beneficial because potential subsequent edits from other users could solidify the nature of our discussion as reputable contributions to the greater general understanding of Dickens’ literature relative to the context of the 19th century, and the texts per se.


Character Pages that we Edited:


Oliver Twist:


Artful Dodger:


Ebenezer Scrooge:


Tiny Tim:


Esther Summerson:


Lady Dedlock:


How to Edit Wikipedia Pages:


Link To Prezi:

Modern Critics’ Assessment of Pip in the Dual Role of the Narrator & Protagonist

Written by Kelsey Teglash and co-written by Rachel Campbell

Group members: Kelsey Teglash, Rachel Campbell, Peter Cala, John Panus, and Nikkel Gohel

David Parossiens essay “’If You Knew all My Story’… The Rhetoric of Pip’s Tale” discusses how Dickens cleverly uses Pip’s first person narration to tell his story with a perspective that is “detached and generally distanced from the matter he tells”. As both the novel’s protagonist and narrator Pip takes on the dual responsibility of moving the plot forward through his actions as well as shaping the perception of the reader through his narration. With this in mind, Pip can be seen as two separate entities; character Pip who the reader can see react to the events surrounding him, and narrator Pip who reflects upon these events with perspective and a greater sense of maturity. Parossiens argues that the skill of Dickens in Great Expectations is in his ability to easily move from one perspective to another and bring the periods of the characters together in order to provide the reader with a more comprehensive outlook. The shadow of the narrating Pip can easily be seen throughout the entire book, but is seen for the first time in Chapter 4 on Christmas day when Pip and Joe are on their way to church. Language like ‘vicariously’, ‘Sunday penitentials’’, and ‘reformatory’, are terms and concepts far beyond that of a six year old, particularly one that cannot properly pronounce his full name. The older, narrating Pip uses this language to infuse the passage with a sense of greater insight.

In her essay “Early Stream-of-Consciousness Writing: Great Expectations” Ann B. Dobie adds support to Parossiens argument by noting the difference between surrealist writing and stream-of-consciousness writing. She asserts that Great Expectations should be viewed as a stream-of-consciousness novel rather than a surrealistic novel. Going on to explain that as a memoir the older Pip is doing all at once, it accurately fits the template of the stream-of-consciousness writer. This is one who attempts to re-create the subconscious mental state of the character whereas the surrealists use automatic writing to obtain the suggestions of the subconscious mental states (Dobie 407). The shadowing narrator reflects on his past with a different viewpoint than his younger self because he was awakened to the reality of the world. Dobie argues that “For a child there is no clean-cut separation between his imagination and his surroundings. Instead, there is a fusion of the two which is comparable to the fusion by the artist of the individual and the world around him, the internal and the external. Thus there is an inevitable blending of the two in an individual consciousness” (Dobie 408). This easily explains the largest contrast between character and narrator Pip in the beginning of the novel. Six year old Pip is a developing character who is constantly being “molded and remolded” by the events and people in his life (Dobie 409). Reading the events of younger Pips life and his “molding” while the older Pip provides insight into the lasting effect of these events invites the reader into his world completely. However, as a narrator we are only seeing Pip’s world from his perspective. Unlike in Bleak House, the narration is only provided by the elderly Pip who is recalling decades of information in one retelling.

A different perspective is taken when our group came across  Rupert Christiansen’s article “What are we Meant to Think of Pip?” While not completely negating Parossiens and Dobie’s argument he mentions that while Pip seems to be a reliable narrator he leaves a lot out. Christiansen notes that the critical information about why he is telling his story his circumstances after with Estella in his mid-30s is absent. In Chapter 14 he refers to his present as ‘occasions in my later life” leaving the reader to constantly question the true effect of the conclusion of his days as young Pip the character.

Christiansen then goes on to examine Pip the narrator from an outside perspective in an attempt to do away with the bias of the first person point-of-view.  He argues that Pip the narrator is being unnecessarily harsh and critical of his former self without any real reason.  When Pip receives his “great expectations” and desires to leave the forge and become part of a higher class of society, this, the critic argues, is the natural reaction “…anyone in his position would have done when offered a golden opportunity to escape the humdrum, and his subsequent embarrassment and discomfort at Joe’s awkward manners is entirely natural”.  Even Pip’s discovery that Magwitch is (Don’t look Peter) the benefactor and his initial disgust and dread of this new discovery that he later beats himself up for is what would be expected of anyone else in the same situation.  Magwitch is a convict–possibly a very dangerous one–who scared the crap out of Pip when he was a little boy in the graveyard.  It is only logical, the critic contends, for Pip to have had the reaction he did.  Thus, the older Pip’s commentary on his younger self is overly self-deprecating, and Christiansen leaves us with a question to contemplate: “Pip seems to think everything is his fault, but what does he actually have to be ashamed about?”

Potential Ideas for an Interpretive Question:

  • What does the adult Pip believe he has reason to be ashamed of and how does that compare to what the young Pip was ashamed of as a child?
    • Is older Pip being too hard on himself as the last critic argues?
    • Is there validity to young Pip’s shame in older Pip’s eyes?

Works Cited

Christiansen, Rupert. “Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.” ‘Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations’ N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2014.

Dobie, Ann B. “Early Stream-of-Consciousness Writing: Great Expectations.”Nineteenth-Century Fiction 25.4 (1971): 405-16. Web.

Paroissien, David. “‘if You Knew all My Story…’: The Rhetoric of Pip’s Tale.” The Dickensian 106.482 (2010): 227,234,196.ProQuest. Web.