CLIO 7 (1) - page 18

Great Expectations was written by
Charles Dickens and published in 1861. It fol-
lows the character of Pip, a young orphan who
lives with his older sister and her husband Joe.
When visiting his parents’ graves he is attacked
by an escaped convict, who tells him to bring
a file and some food, which Pip obeys.Years
later, he becomes suddenly rich after an anony-
mous benefactor leaves him a fortune. He later
discovers the prisoner he helped has become
successful in Australia, where he was sent after
being recaptured and has left Pip the money
due to his former kindness, which inspired the
convict to become successful.
Charles Dickens uses the novel to
engage with real Victorian concerns about
social mobility and the divides between classes
becoming smaller. The book was written in the
Victorian era at a time where there was a great
inequality between the rich and the poor of
the country was extremely big, so a book like
this would have enabled those in the higher
classes to connect and sympathise with those
who were working class, as there was little
communication between them. However, this
book would have shocked the readers of the
time, as it depicts a criminal becoming that of
a higher class, which was practically unheard of
for them, yet historically accurate to the time,
as when the penal colonies were released the
How does 'Great Expectations'
reflect concerns about the use
of Australia as a penal colony?
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