What makes "Great Expectations," the novel, a bildungsroman?

1 Answer
Sep 11, 2016

It is because it is a novel about the maturation both physically and psychologically of the main character Pip.


The entire novel is based round the development of Pip (Philip Pirrip), and his relationships with the other characters.

From his humble beginnings as an orphan brought up by his sister and her husband the blacksmith Joe Gargery to his development into a young gentleman and finally to his discovery of what is really valuable in life, it constantly traces his moral and physical development.

Central to this is Pip's mistaken belief that his secret benefactor is Miss Havisham when in fact it is Abel Magwitch the convict he helps on the marshes.

This misconception on Pip's behalf is crucial because it shows how he finds true happiness and contentment. Plucked from the hardship of his indenture to Joe by Jaggers, Miss Havisham's lawyer, Pip suddenly finds himself extremely wealthy and a young gentleman. In doing so he becomes a snob and is ashamed of his humble roots.

He is taken aback when he finds who his real benefactor is, but in attempting to save Magwitch he realises where real values such as loyalty, sincerity and love are to be found. The fact that he loses all his wealth to the Crown now means nothing.

Another central theme is his relationship with and love for Estella. Again in so doing he finds true purpose and love in life.

All of this contributes to the novel being a bildungsroman.