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"Reading" in Great Expectations

Max Byrd
PMLA
Vol. 91, No. 2 (Mar., 1976), pp. 259-265
DOI: 10.2307/461512
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/461512
Page Count: 7
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"Reading" in Great Expectations
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Abstract

The theme of education pervades nineteenth-century novels, often particularized in the theme of learning to read and write. Great Expectations reveals the complex metaphorical nature of the terms "reading" and "reader," deepening our sense of how Pip's moral perceptions are related to his literal education. The novel begins with several scenes in which Pip learns to read and then goes on to show a wide range of characters reading rightly or wrongly, dramatically or narrowly, with self-deception or with charity. Dickens' own reader comes to see that the stages of Pip's expectations correspond to the growth in his powers of interpretation.

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