Great Expectations As A Victorian Serial Novel

1177 words - 5 pages

   The average Victorian serial novel spoke about the sort of lifestyle nineteenth-century readers wanted for themselves. Charles Dickens was a talented novelist known for skills in serial writing. It was he who made the serial popular again after its near death from the crisis of the English tax. A serial is an ongoing story told over time in monthly or weekly installments. Great Expectations, in serial form, is a novel that was printed in weekly installments in Dickens's magazine, All Year Round. In its analysis it has proven to live up to true serial form.


In the serial form of Great Expectations there are two chapters in every weekly installment and seven chapters in each ...view middle of the document...


Publishing played a major role with the serial novel. The popularization of the serial came about when the English tax was proposed. Newspapers and magazines used bigger sheets of paper to avoid the tax and used serials to fill up this extra space. Many serials of the nineteenth-century were not published alone but in newspapers and magazines. Included with them were advertisements and illustrations. In serial form Great Expectations included illustrations within the novel. At the very beginning of installment one there is a map of the marshes of Great Expectations. And in installment five, before the beginning of chapter eight, there is a map of the Rochester that Pip lives in. This gave readers a good visualization of where characters were talking about in the novel. Many times they also compared their place and way of living to that of the book.


Serials in the nineteenth-century mirrored the life of the middle class and gave them greater hopes for better things. During this time Great Expectations tried to stress the betterment of life that Victorian readers were striving for. From the beginning Pip has an ambition to be educated: "'I say, Pip, old chap!' cried Joe, 'what a scholar you are!' 'I should like to be' said Pip" (60; ch. 7). Education being important during Victorian times, Pip was stressing what people wanted. Gaining a sense of where Pip lived was as important as who Pip really was to the readers of the nineteenth century. They talked about and lived through the characters of the serial novels. The point of the serial was to entertain but also for people to get caught up and involved in the characters' lives. In order for readers to be involved there had to be plenty of descriptions of the characters and the places around them. In Great Expectations the descriptions kept the readers involved and talking. For instance, at the very beginning Pip tells us about his name and his family name: "My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip . . . I called myself Pip" (23; ch.1). Pip also describes for the reader the surroundings of his home: "Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea" (24; ch.1).


What made the readers even more involved and gave them more to talk about were the thoughts inside the characters' heads. Pip makes the reader feel for him...

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