Pip's Spatial Education in Charles Dickens's Great Expectations
presentationposted on 14.06.2017, 00:00 by Roslyn Fleming
The concept of "spatial education" explains character actions and transformations in literary texts. In Charles Dickens's Great Expectations (1861), the main character Pip observes how people function in different environments, thereby learning that certain behaviors, attitudes, and interactions proliferate in each space and in the process, learning that his own expectations of environments need to be modified. Although scholars have discussed spaces' representation and how spaces and characters reflect one another, it is important also to understand how physical spaces foster particular interactions and behaviors that disrupt ascriptions of class identities/characteristics to those spaces. When we study the interactions, spaces, and characters of certain locations, we recognize Pip's changing expectations and behaviors that allow him to successfully operate in each space. Pip's observations of the interactions at the workplace and home of Jaggers, the London lawyer, and the physical appearances of these spaces evade Pip's expectations of what it means to live/work in London. In contrast to Jaggers' office is Pip's residences, Barnard's Inn and the Temple, which reveal Pip's learning process of what it means to be a London gentleman, as he adopts certain behaviors and fashions his homes in particular styles. Pip's experiences at the class-ambiguous marshes, raise expectations that the London gentlemen class live in environments that mirror their socioeconomic standing. However, Pip's spatial education in the novel demonstrates a person's qualities cannot be deduced by their class association nor can class identity be assumed by one's possessions and behaviors.