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Great Expectations: Critical Analysis

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This excerpt belongs to the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It is a novel set in the 19th century in London. The style of the narrative has three different levels of fiction which are the narrator that tells the story (Pip), the character called Pip and finally, the one who creates Pip who is Philip Pirrip.

The main theme that is repeated throughout the novel is guilt. The fortune of Pip started with guilt as well as it is the origin of his success, and therefore the origin of his great expectations. Since he was a child, he felt blamed since he was taught in guilt. He was an orphan and his sister, Mrs. Joe, adopted him, and took care of him with his husband Joe. So, he was taught to be grateful even for being alive. In addition, he suffered a trauma with a convict called Magwitch that caused him to feel bad for helping him even though he hadn’t other option.

In this excerpt, it is explained that Pip was ill and suffered a series of hallucinations, and he focuses in two things. In the first place, he talks about the confusion of identities. Pip feels confused at this time of the novel because he has no clue where he belongs. He belonged to the low part of society but knew since he was living in London with the money of Magwitch that he was lost, so this is why Pip explained in this excerpt ‘I was a steel beam of a vast engine, clashing and whirling over a gulf, and yet that I implored in my own person to have the engine stopped, and my part in it hammered of’. In addition, Pip was in debt, and felt responsible for it and disoriented because he has lost his place.

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In the second part, Pip mentions something about different faces surrounding him, and at the end he talks about Joe. As it is mentioned, he is confused, and he sees different identities, faces. Thus, he is out of his mind because of this feeling of disconnection and guilty.

Basically, the illness that he is suffering is guilt. In this part of the novel, this feeling is compared to disease because it is infectious as an illness. Guilt leads to bad conscience and then, to feel responsible for what you had done thus punishing yourself for that, and at the end, it gives a body response and Pip feels the need to compensate for that and to pay for it.

So, the whole novel focuses on guilt, and characters are affected by it, fortune comes by going through this feeling. Pip talks about guilt along with the novel and this topic is very clear in this part of the story. The protagonist feels ill because all this guilt that he suffered and also, feeling lost because his position in society is not clear.

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Great Expectations: Critical Analysis. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from
“Great Expectations: Critical Analysis.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
Great Expectations: Critical Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
Great Expectations: Critical Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 17 [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from:
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