The current study sets out to thoroughly discuss upon the main series of socio-psychological features which can be observed in two major novels written by Charles Dickens, “Great Expectations” and “Oliver Twist”.
The main reason for the choice of the above topic relies on the fact that it represents the very essence of these two nineteenth century-Dickensian novels, i.e. precisely what makes them stand as social frescoes of their time.
We can demonstrate such a status by means of analyzing their respective protagonists, who both form the archetype of the struggling Victorian lower-class individual, then extending our observations by establishing a connection between this archetype and other social structures of those times.
Furthermore, the analysis will achieve its previously-stated purpose by relying on three major critical endeavours: the psychoanalytic, the historical and the biographical approach, the use of which will be described below.
Firstly, the use of the psychoanalytic method will be connected to the psychological theory according to which past reasons of frustration, fear, loneliness and unfulfilled emotions are indirectly expressed, but “traceable within the behavior of the characters in the literary work” 1 (Web), and this applies to both Pip and Oliver Twist.
Secondly, the historical approach will mostly be relied upon in the third chapter, so as to support the social context of Victorian England depicted by the two plots in relation with several pieces of historical information2 (Britannica, Web).
Lastly, the biographical method concentrates upon the manner in which certain aspects of the writer’s life are reflected in his two books or even influenced its plot/characters in a certain way, naturally in connection with our theme.
In addition, there is an imposing necessity to summarize the view taken by each of the six chapters in the thesis.
The initial one will focus on the difficult life of the average citizen in Queen Victoria’s England, as to introduce our investigation upon the two protagonists themselves and their being faced with staying on the harsh path or choosing an easy way out of it.
Then, to extend the discussion in the previous chapter, the second part will discuss the notion of “social classes” in every detail: what it signifies, how many of them existed, how different they were and the manner in which Pip and Oliver are caught exactly in the middle of their violent clash.
The third section will show how an increasingly-industrialized England puts a growing pressure, psychologically speaking, on the two characters during their struggles for a better life, and as it has already been mentioned key historical facts will be provided.
Consequently, such a psychological pressure induced by the social context will prove mandatory in the fourth part for debating upon the gender clash in “Great Expectations”, in order to show how society made it seemingly impossible for Pip to achieve his sentimental aspirations by limiting him to a forever inferior status.
As a preparation for the closure of the study, the symbols behind the socio-psychological patterns must also be brought into discussion, as these patterns may have a deeper meaning hidden at their very core.
In the end, the concluding chapter will look upon the way our topic of analysis can be extended to other literary tendencies in the following century, or identifiable in our contemporary society, even though with certain differences from the books.