Understanding Great Expectations: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents


After 140 years, Great Expectations is still one of the West's most admired, read and studied works of fiction. This casebook of primary documents, collateral readings and essays brings to life both Dickens' masterpiece and the social issues reflected in it. Newlin has collected significant primary sources on the question, "What is a Gentleman'?" and on the dilemma of Victorian women, supplying extracts from the writings of Lord Chesterfield, Anthony Trollope, and Harold Laski, as well as long passages from Mary Wollstonecraft's 1792 A Vindication of the Rights of Women, and John Stuart Mill's 1861 The Subjection of Women. The work also covers blacksmithing and crime and punishment in early 19th century England, the transportation of convicts, and the state of the London theatre during the period. There are first-hand accounts of life on prison ships and the travails and opportunities facing transportees in Australia. Essays and original matrials on class distinctions, with demographic data from the 1812 Census, and on the feminist movement, point up the socioeconomic hierarchies and strata that characterized the early Industrial Revolution and subsequent Victorian socieity. Other documents depict physical settings such as the Marsh County and the Thames, and Bow Street in London. This collection of sources will help broaden students' understanding of Great Expectations and places it within its historical context.

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