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Guilt in Great Expectations - a study of Charles Dickens Critique of Guilt
2005 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year))Student thesis
Abstract [en]

The essay aims at exploring the theme of guilt in the Victorian society through Charles Dickens’s main character Pip in Great Expectations. In particular, the paper investigates how Dickens displays his view on guilt through Pip, and in what ways Pip’s feelings of guilt represent the author’s critique of the Victorian moral system. This critique becomes clear by the way Dickens shows how destructive the impact of guilt had become. He draws a picture of the main character Pip who since birth feels smitten with sin, a common feature of Victorian Christianity. A kind of moral guilt, primal guilt (that derives from original sin) is what Dickens criticises the most. In contrast to other kinds of moral guilt, it cannot vanish by means of good deeds. One can furthermore see primal guilt as institutionalised and thus part of society. Since Dickens criticised society and wanted to improve it, it is legitimate to see his critique of primal guilt as critique against religious structures and institutions as well. Pip’s feelings of guilt represent Dickens’s critique of the Victorian moral system in that he gets reborn morally and spiritually from what Dickens proposes. Freedom from guilt is the ultimate goal for Dickens’s undertaking and in the novel there are important instruments to make this possible, such as forgiveness and other values of the New Testament. Pip is a gentleman who originally adopts the values of “false” guilt, (primal guilt) though later on experiences “true” guilt which is of a positive nature, since it leads to a life without guilt.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. , 25 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53907Local ID: ENG D-14OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53907DiVA: diva2:1102467
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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