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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
Table of Contents

FORM AND STRUCTURE

Great Expectations was written in 36 weekly installments, to
appear in the magazine All the Year Round (Charles Dickens,
editor). Some critics have pointed out that Dickens benefited
from publishing in installments, because it forced him to keep
the action moving along and to keep the subplots inter-
connected. Notice how often Dickens ends a weekly number on
a note of suspense or excitement. Notice, too, how he manages
to bring up different strands of the plot in each number, instead
of going off on one track too long.

On the other hand, watch for numbers which consist of only
one chapter. Usually these focus on Estella or Magwitch, those
two figures Pip tries to keep apart from the rest of his life.

Once the magazine had published the final episode, the novel
was brought out in book form, in three volumes, corresponding
to the three stages of Pip's expectations. It may help you to
look at the outlook and the pattern of action in each of these
parts.



PART I
When Pip is a boy, life is seen through a boy's eyes; it is a
world of monsters and magic, where events happen suddenly
and illogically and people behave in unaccountable ways.

PART II
This shows Pip as a young "man of the world"; it is much more
concerned with developing characters, with social satire, and
with financial and legal arrangements.

• PART III
Pip must become an active member of society. The plot turns
into a full-fledged detective story as Pip unravels the secrets
around him and hatches a scheme to smuggle Magwitch safely
out of the country.

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
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