Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Pip's Cognitive Development in Great Expectations from the Viewpoint of Space Product

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Pip's Cognitive Development in Great Expectations from the Viewpoint of Space Product

Article excerpt


Charles Dickens is well-known for humor, satire, exaggeration, and in-depth analysis of psychology. The spatial construction is a prominent feature of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. This paper tries to analyze how the spatial conversion affects Pip's cognitive development from the viewpoint of space production. It explores the construction of the three-dimension space in the novel, and how each dimension affects Pip's value orientation. Also, it attempts to study how the culture and space interact with each other and then impact Pip's cognitive development. Then, it concludes that space, as a notable feature, has a profound effect on the development of the plot, characters' psychology and Pip's cognition.

Key words: Great Expectations; Space; Spatial construction; Spatial conversion; Cognitive development; Culture


Charles Dickens (1812-1870), as a main realistic representative of the Victorian era, is one of the most influential novelists in British literature, even in the world's literature. He is "the acknowledged literary colossus of his age" (Cain, 2008, p.1). Marx acclaims him as "a palmary novelist" (qtd. in Jiang, 2008, p.1). Dickens is well-known for his humor, satire, exaggeration, psychological analysis, and the combination of realistic depiction and romantic atmosphere. In G. K. Chesterton's words, Dickens' novel, just like the ancient myth, is "a more fictitious kind of fiction" (qtd. in Qian, 2006, p.303). George Gissing treats Dickensian style as "romantic realism" (qtd. in Qian, 2006, p.303). Moreover, Dickens creates some of the world's most memorable characters, such as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Miss Havisham, Pip, and so forth. His biographer, Claire Tomalin, describes Dickens as "the greatest creator of characters in English" after Shakespeare (qtd. in Jones, 2012, p.1).

Great Expectations appeared initially in series version in All the Year Round in 1860. John Irving puts forth that among Dickens' works, Great Expectations is a classical one, even the most outstanding in English language and the most perfect in structure (1981, p.251). The background of the story was in Britain in the 19th century, Victorian era. With the unprecedented development of Industrial Revolution, Britain became the first industrialized country in the capitalist world while the contradiction between the capitalists and the working class became intense in the cruel exploitation and oppression.

Until now, Great Expectations has been appreciated and re-appreciated from different perspectives. Some critics hold that it reflects the author's basic worldview that good and evil have their own rewards from the association between the novel and the author's values orientation (Lucas, 1992, p.135); some make an overall exposition of the correlation between the novel and the social value and conclude that it is the whole society rather than the individual himself that contributes to the disillusionment of Pip's great expectations (Rubinstein, 1969, p.744); some concern themselves with the psychology of characters and summarize that their behaviors are the externalization of the relevant psychology and emotion (Wheeler, 1985, p.107); some take great interest in its narrative structure-starting and returning (Cotsell, 1900, p.5); and some others try to interpret the novel from the similarity of structure and symbolism to John Milton's Paradise Lost (Stange, 1900, p.63). In a summary, this masterpiece is interpreted generally in three ways: The first focuses on the significance of the theme and the values orientation; the second lays emphasis on the psychological development of the protagonists; and the third concentrates on its narrative structure. These literary critics have gained remarkable achievements. Therefore, it seems that little room is left for further exploration. However, researches on spatiality provide me with a new perspective, especially after reading The Production of Space by Henri Lefebvre. …

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