This thesis aims to investigate the social values of the Victorian people through the analysis of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. The Victorian Age is well-known for its rapid development of industry, innovative theories of science, and massive expansion of its territory, all of which make England a country full of opportunities. However, these changes also bring the Victorians uncertainties and worries to themselves and the country. Through analyzing Great Expectations, we will be able to observe how these alterations change people’s social values and the possible problems that are hidden in them.
Chapter I will be an introduction to the background and history of the Victorian Age as well as a general review of Dickens and his works. The main ideas and concepts of this thesis will also be discussed. In Chapter II, we will see the Victorians’ ideas of social status. Through looking at the distinctions of social classes in this period and their influences on people’s social values, the snobbishness of the Victorians will be studied. Chapter III will be an analysis of the meaning of wealth in the Victorian Age. Since Pip’s “adventure” begins with the inheritance of a great fortune, it is important to see how he and other people are influenced by money, which shows the social values towards wealth in the Victorian Age. In Chapter IV, we will see the wishful thinking of the characters in this novel, which indicate the impacts that the mainstream social values in the Victorian Age bring to people. By means of looking at their dreams and fancies, we will know the importance of having right attitude towards oneself and reality.
In the last chapter, not only the main ideas of the previous chapters but also the subject of this thesis will be restated. Through Great Expectations, Dickens would like to disclose the social problems that England is facing in the Victorian Age and propose the virtues that the Victorians should truly work hard for.
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