Orphans During the Victorian Age

Upon reading Great Expectations, Pip’s character stood out to me because he reminded me of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. Both Pip and Heathcliff were orphaned as young children, which caused them to face more adversity while growing up. Even though their situations were different, both characters demonstrated how common it was for children to be orphans during the Victorian Age.

In chapter one of Great Expectations, Pip mentions that he never got the chance to meet his parents and his “first fancies regarding what they were like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones.” As a child, it must have been difficult for him to grow up without knowing much of anything about his parents. Luckily, his sister took him under her wing and raised him. However, society likely misconstructed his situation and assumed that his parents abandoned him as a child.

Similarly, Heathcliff was orphaned as a child too. However, his situation was different because he had no family to live with. Therefore, he had to live on the streets of Liverpool all by himself. The master in the novel “picked it up and inquired for its owner.” As soon as he figured out that Heathcliff had no home, the master took him back to his home where he raised him from that day forward. There were many orphaned children in Europe, so Heathcliff was lucky to have been given a home.

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