In with a dramatic beginning and an irony on

In this paper, I
present the childhood in Charles Dickens’ novel ”Great Expectations”, a
representative novel for Victorian  Era
and I argue that the differences between Victorian Age and nowadays are significant
for our perception about childhood because Dickens’ vision and our reality make
a wonderful contrast.

By looking at the first
chapters, I argue that Dickens made a clear picture of childhood which is
important because his visions about childhood are the main point of this essay.
Firstly, he believed strongly in the value of childhood and he considered that
it is the certain need. On the other hand, he saw in childhood an isolated and
formative period, but also a time when children are able to use their
imagination. Dickens gives the reader the opportunity to enter in Pips’ mind
and see the world through the eyes of a child and everything seems to be so
real:

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”Pip
the narrator keeps being with us as a running double perspective, able to move
with wonderful dexterity from sensuous detail and fresh impression of childhood
to a measured, humorous and ultimately moral perspective.”(Brantlinger 299)

I agree this point of
view because in my opinion, that’s what makes this novel so great, full of
suspense and a mix of emotions, with a dramatic beginning and an irony on the
final where a destiny is changed.

”Perhaps
one of the greatest talents which Dickens possessed was that of accurate
representation of the state of mind of childhood.”(Bender 102)

The young boy, Phillip
Pirrip is the image of a well known typology of children form Victorian Age and
for novels about childhood in general, the orphan child. Pip is a poor young
boy, an orphan without friends and family, poorly educated, but with an
interesting vision about life. He did not consider his family’s death a major
tragedy and he found a way of isolating himself and making him using his
imagination even more. His childhood had two main components which guided his formation
at that young age: the feelings of guilt and shame. From my point of view,
these are not the keys in educating a child because of the negative
psychological impact which troubled his formation. For example, fear makes a
person thinking irrationally and not being aware of himself. In Pips’ case,
that fear of punishment, the nightmarish atmosphere of childhood, because of
Mrs. Joe who constantly threatening and beating him made the boy sensitive.

”Pip
frequently describes his dreams in ”Great Expectations” and these episodes
reveal his inner psychological turmoil in the course of the narrative.” (Bender
89)

The dream about his
encounter with Magwitch reveals some characteristics of Pip’s personality which
marked the mature Pip. This transition from the young Pip and the adult one is
very difficult because the adulthood represents a real world with real
consequences.

”Victorian
writers provided complex rendering of the emotional life and psychological
development of children by tracing the growth of their characters from
childhood intro adulthood.” (Brantlinger 74)

So, childhood is not a
time of freedom and enjoyment in Dickens’ view, but a period of sadness and
difficulty: ”Experience teaches Pip that
the childhood world is full of illusions.”(Bender 96)

Another way of treating
childhood in Dickens’ novel is by seeing it as a repeatedly cycle. For example,
when Pip visited Mr. Wemmick’s father he has to nod repeatedly because he liked
it. So, this nodding is similar to the attitude towards a baby, not towards an
old man. But that’s the Dickens’ point, when we are old we become children
again.

In contrast to what I
have been said is the nowadays image of childhood. Our century has an
optimistic picture of childhood and this is a good thing because the real
concept of childhood, in my opinion means: happiness, freedom, playing and
having fun, without violence and abuses.

In conclusion, childhood
is a wonderful period, but Dickens makes it painful and creates weights for
their young characters.  Perhaps this hard
vision about childhood reflect his own personal experience and that’s why he
tries to tell us that childhood is the moment when we learn the boundaries
between right and wrong.