The Voice of the Child in Victorian Literature

When reading the first few chapters of Great Expectations I began to think further into how children are used in a lot of different ways in Victorian Literature. Due to the fact that I am writing my critical essay on the poems “The Chimney Sweeper” and “The Cry of the Children”, I recall the way the writers use the point of view of the child to guide their writing. I enjoyed the first section of the book a lot, where Pip explains to the reader how his name formed into Pip. I believe that this made the reader connect to Pip, the speaker of the novel. This reminded me of the poems because the goal of those poems was to connect the reader to the children and their emotions. This is a connection that we can see expanding across a lot of literature written during the Victorian Era. Since Pip is the main character of Great Expectations, we are being told the story through his eyes and his point of view. This can change a lot about a story, by simply knowing who is telling it. The poem “The Chimney Sweeper” would almost lose its effect if it was not written from the voice of the child. The reader would not be able to connect to the story or grasp the scenario that the writer is trying to portray to them. Remembering this aspect of the poem and how it had an immense impact on the literature brought me to think about the opening section of Great Expectations and how it would have been changed if a different character was delivering the reasoning behind Pip’s nickname. This carried with me throughout the first few chapters of the novel that we read. I was reminding myself of the importance of the voice of the child in Victorian Literature, and how this can connect us more to the story and send the message. In Great Expectations, when the story was being told from Pip’s perspective we could really feel and connect to his emotions as he was afraid of what was happening and afraid of what could possibly happen when he encountered the man with the metal leg. Hearing it from the “I” point of view makes the emotion seem more real to the child itself. This is exactly the same as the strength of the “I” in the poem “The Chimney Sweeper”. As I continue through reading through the novel I will be curious to see how the point of view in which the story is told remains prevalent.

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