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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - LSC Kingwood

Pip from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens


Assignment Guide


Great Expectations, first published serially in 1860-1861, takes place in nineteenth century England.  The story is about the life of the orphaned Philip Pirrip, who calls himself Pip. The events of Pip's life unfold as Pip learns the true value of the people he has encountered throughout his life.


Charles Dickens was born in 1812 to John and Elizabeth Barrow Dickens in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. He was the second of eight children. His father moved the family frequently between London and Chatham and was often in debt. John Dickens was imprisoned at Marshalsea Debtor's Prison for several months in 1824, and twelve-year-old Charles was forced to drop out of school and go to work in a shoe-dye, or blacking, factory, labeling bottles. This experience of living alone in London in poverty, though only a few months in length, provided material for many of his writings and profoundly affected his outlook on life. After his father's release from prison, Charles returned to school until he was fifteen years old. His formal Advertisement for a reading of The Old Curiosity Shopeducation ended at this time, but he continued to expand his knowledge by spending a great deal of time reading in the library of the British Museum in London. He began his career as a writer and journalist in 1833 by writing articles on London life for magazines under the pseudonym Boz. In 1836, the year of his marriage to Catherine Hogarth, these articles were collected in a book entitled Sketches by Boz. With this publication came the first taste of fame, and he embarked on a successful writing career that covered nearly thirty years. Charles Dickens was fortunate to achieve renown and critical praise during his lifetime as well as afterwards for his literary works. He is widely considered one of the greatest novelists in the English language, and Great Expectations is regarded as one of his finest novels.


Alienation and Loneliness | Guilt and Innocence | Search for Self | Place of women in Victorian England | Victim and Victimization



Librarian Talk . . .  About Books!
  • Books offer helpful information about time periods, authors and the literary works. Use them to help begin your review of literature on Great Expectations .
  • Apply online for a library card. Use your card to 1) Place a Hold on a book and have it sent to the library closest to you  2) Access journal and reference databases from home, and 3) Access Online Book Database (eBook Collection).
  • The catalog is online.
  • Online books (database paid for by our libraries) are available at the eBook Collection.  Use the barcode number from your Lone Star College ID or library card to log in.  Create a free account to save favorite titles or your own notes on the books you read.
More about...Finding Books (31 sec.)


REF PN 41.D5, vols. 21 and 55 - Dictionary of Literary Biography -
The DLB is a multi-volume work which provides detailed biographical sketches of the authors' literary writings as well as general critical commentary.
REF PR 4580 .D38  - Charles Dickens A to Z : The Essential Reference to His Life and Work


To find books on  Great Expectations, consult the Library Catalog. Type in Great Expectations or "Charles Dickens" as the subject keyword. You may wish to browse in the stacks in the general call number for Dickens (PR 4588).
REF PN 761.N5, vol. 26 -  Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism
NCLC contains excerpts from critical essays in books and journals. Use these volumes to 1) select a topic or theme 2) find the full article or essay in the library, and 3) locate other articles and books from the "Further Reading" section.
REF PN 3385 .N68, Vol. 4 - Novels for Students
Characterization, themes, summary and excerpts from literary criticism.  This is an excellent starting place.
REF PN 3451.C7 Vol. 2 - Critical Survey of Long Fiction
A survey of Dickens' writing style and characterization.
REF PR 4579.D49  - Dickens Studies Annual: Essays on Victorian Fiction
A set of bound volumes of essays on Charles Dickens and other Victorian writers. To find specific essays use The Dickens Project web page guide for Dickens Studies Annual to search the table of contents for each volume.  Excellent source for scholarly journal articles.


In 1861 Great Britain was the most powerful nation on earth. Her territories stretched around the world, and her navy ruled the seas. Raw materials furnished by the colonies fueled the factories of the Industrial Revolution. The thriving economy gave rise to a wealthy middle class that rivaled the old aristocracy in money and power.   However, the Industrial Revolution also spawned great poverty, The working conditions in the factories were deplorable. Child labor was rampant. The slums of London bred crime and disease. Only men of property could vote, so the poor were excluded from the political system. Women had few rights and about their only option in life was marriage. It was in this underside of society and the injustices of life in Victorian Britain that Charles Dickens found the material for his novels.

REF DA5500 .E53 - The Encyclopedia of the Victorian World  
A guide to the people, places, events, and every day life of the Victorian era.
DA533 .D53- Dickens' England: Life in Victorian Times.
Features selections from Dickens and other contempories to illluminate all aspects of life in Victorian England.
DA533 .P74 - Victoria's Heyday
A beautifully illustrated book on Victorian England.
HQ615 .F58 - Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England
Room by room, including the sickroom, Victorian everyday life is described in detail.
REF PN50 .L574 Supp. 1, pt. 1 - Literature and Its Times
Ties Great Expectations to its setting in early 19th century England.
PR872 .M2 - Victorian Life and Victorian Fiction
Highly recommended for background information. Includes specific references to Great Expectations.
PR878. D65 K36 Victorian Families in Fact and Fiction
Use for descriptions of family life during the time Dickens was writing.


Librarian talk . . . About Finding Journal and Newspaper Articles!

Electronic databases are purchased by the libraries for your research use. To find articles in newspapers and journals, letters, reference books, illustrations, photographs and more, use your updated library card to login to the following databases. If you find an interesting article that is not full-text, email the correct bibliographic information to one of the Reference Librarians and they will help you get the article. They will need full bibliographic information - and your name and address. Send your phone number as well, so they can contact you if they need to. There is some overlap of articles in the following databases. However, we encourage you to use more than one. All are excellent sources for this topic. 
HINT:For a full list of the databases, go to the Research Databases page,
and use the barcode number from your Lone Star College ID or library card to login.

More about searching databases (25 sec.)

If you are a Lone Star College System student, you may use these databases from home. The barcode number from your Lone Star College ID or library card is required for login. (Request a library card online).

JSTOR Arts & Sciences
One of the best database for research in literature, this full text, scholarly database contains information on many subjects. Use the Advanced search screen for the most effective searches. Enter the title in one keyword box, Dickens in a second keyword box, and keywords from your thesis in the third or fourth keyword box. Limit your search to Articles, and use the discipline Language & Literature to focus your search results.  To retrieve only entire articles, uncheck the second box next to "Include links to external content."

Project MUSE

This full text database contains only scholarly journal articles. Enter keywords from your thesis or search query in the main search box, use quotes around any phrases and separate key terms with connectors words: 'and' 'or' 'not'.  For more assistance ask a Reference Librarian. We do not subscribe to any eBooks from Project Muse.

Literature Resource Center

Use this database to find essays in books and articles in journals, as well as overviews of Great Expectations, and information on Charles Dickens' life. 
Academic Search Complete
A multi-subject database, with many full text articles, including some on Pip, Miss Havisham, and Estella.  Limit the search to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals in order to insure the correct level of article in your results.

Bloom's Literary Reference Online

 This database is a collection of many analytical essays discussing literature.  These essays, originally published in print form, are accessible now for research online. Find information about Great Expectations, or read about the life of Charles Dickens and his body of work.

Librarian Talk about the Internet!

The internet can be a wonderful source of original documents. Browse the sites we have suggested below. Remember, you DO want to find reputable sites. Evaluate for:

  • Accuracy - The information should be researched and show proof of that research. 
  • Source - Look at the domain:  .edu   .gov   .org  .net are valid research sources.
  • Authority - What are the author's credentials? (Don't quote from another college freshman's paper.)
  • Coverage - Does the page have the information you need for your research?
  • Objectivity - If a work is biased, use it - just make sure your professor knows YOU know. Offer both sides of issues, where applicable.
More about finding internet sources (25 sec.)

These websites represent some of the many sites on Charles Dickens and Great Expectations.  Before using any websties ase one of your resources, check with your professor.

  • The Dickens Project University of California  A scholarly consortium devoted to the promotion of the study of Dickens and his works. This is where you will find the table of contents for Dickens Studies Annual.
  • Great Expectations  A complete copy of the book online, helpful to find quotes from the novel.
  • Dickens London  Maps, major events, foods, transportation - a lot of information about the London of Charles Dickens. 
  • Dickens  PBS produced this three-part series probes the life of one of the greatest novelists of all time -- Charles Dickens. 
  • The Victorian Web The Victorian Web's Dickens page offer essays and commentary about diverse topics related to Dickens's work (e.g., gender, economic contexts, science, imagery, themes, and characterization).

Librarian Talk about getting help!

Support for a successful paper is more than finding the right resources. Putting it all together takes time and effort. Sometimes it takes additional help from the librarians or tutors. Please consider the following resources if you need additional help. Remember, the expert on the assignment is your professor.

More about getting help (25 sec.)

Citing Sources Using MLA Style | Lone Star College-Kingwood Library guide. Examples of both paper and electronic citations.

Avoiding Plagiarism  |   Excellent information and guide on how to avoid plagiarism from the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University.

University of Texas Copyright Crash Course | This helpful guide on copyright is suggested by Lone Star College-Kingwood Teaching and Learning Center.

The Learning Center   |   Check the TLC hours for in-house tutoring.

By  Bettye Sutton, 1999 | Rev 06/2010, B. Bradley; Updated 10/2012 sm/jfr

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