Consumption Or Conservation They Map Our Lives English Literature Essay


This essay explores a focus upon the use of internal and external landscapes and their ability to aid the moral and psychological growth of the protagonist of a Bildungsroman. Special attention will be given to the relationship of landscape and the protagonist in terms of helping to develop a chronological maturation and their quest to reveal true identity through knowledge from the landscapes they have experienced by the close of the bildungsroman.


"Places matter. Their rules, their scale, their design include or exclude civil society,

Pedestrianism, equality, diversity (economic and otherwise),

Understanding of where water comes from and garbage goes,

Consumption or conservation. They map our lives."

(Rebecca Solnit: Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics)

Bildungsroman is a German term used to describe books that deal with the education and growth of a character. ‘Most scholars regard the novel of formation as primarily a nineteenth-century phenomenon; (Boes: 2006: p 2). The purpose of a Bildungsroman is to shadow a protagonist and their expedition from a child or adolescence to an adult and the plot of the Bildungsroman charts the development of the character. As Boes explains: ‘The term "Bildungsroman" was introduced to the critical vocabulary by the German Philosopher and sociologist Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1941)’ (Boes: 2006: p 3). ‘The principal reference on the British novel of formation over the past decades, has been Jerome Hamilton Buckley’s Season of Youth: The Bildungsroman from Dickens to Golding, published in 1974’ (Boes: 2006: 4). Buckley suggests that a Bildungsroman is a novel that portrays all but ‘two or three of a set list of characteristics, among them childhood, the conflict of generations, provinciality, the larger society, self-education, alienation, ordeal by love, the search for a vocation and a working philosophy’ (Boes: 2006: 5).

Bildungsroman stories engage tests in which a protagonist is detached from the rest of their usual society and landscape for a period of time. It is during this absence from familiar landscape that the protagonist faces significant dangers or challenges in which their true character and personality are portrayed and explored. Only when the protagonist has survived on the strength of their personal resources alone are they permitted to re-join society and, from their absence and self-discoveries, the protagonist usually views society with a different approach than they did before. Bildungsroman novels focus on the aspect of education through travel and journeys and the experiences in which they obtain from these journeys. The theme of landscape within bildungsroman acts as a physical, external space or one of psychological, inner space in which these forms of adolescent may take place, thus enriching the plot of the bildungsroman itself.

The two acclaimed Bildungsroman novels to be discussed in terms of the theme of Landscape are Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884 and Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations,1860. Special attention will be given to the exploration of landscape and the effect changing and temporary landscapes have on the main protagonists of these two Bildungsroman novels, Huckleberry Finn, (Huck) and Phillip Pirrip, (Pip). ‘Charles Dickens and Mark Twain are recognised as the preeminent novelists of nineteenth century Britain and American. Both concerned themselves with the relationship between the individual and society’ (Allingham: 1992. p 447) and the discussion of society and the external landscapes that engulf and surround society is important in understanding the development plot of the protagonist throughout a bildungsroman. ‘Both Pip and Huck are boys embarking on journeys deeply embedded in their national consciousness: Pip wants to be a gentleman and Huck wants to break away from civilisation altogether’ (Allingham: 1992: p 448). ‘Dickens and Twain employ a first person point of view for its ability to include the reader into their central characters histories through plausible, first-hand accounts of thoughts and feelings’ (Allingham: 1992: 448) and it is with the theme of thoughts and feelings in which we can charter the progress of their maturation as the Bildungsroman progresses. ‘Dickens’ story may contain Gothic, detective-fiction characteristics and Twain’s biting satire, but both works are essentially Bildungsroman self-told tales of the growing up of children in harsh environments’ (Allingham: 1992: p 471).

‘…and on the farther side, through chasms in the mountains,

and over the top of the woods, appeared a landscape

distant, lovely, full of hope.

(Goethe: date: 137)

Chapter one:

The Mississippi River: self-realisation and social and moral maturation

I came among these hills; when like a roe

I bounded o’er the mountains, by the sides

Of deep rivers, and the lonely streams,

Wherever nature led;

A lover of the meadows and the woods,

And mountains; and of all that we behold

From this green earth

(William Wordsworth: 1798)

With the focus on the education of its main protagonist Huckleberry, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an example of a Bildungsroman novel. The main focal point of this chapter is to evaluate how the external and internal landscapes that Huck is exposed to shape the moral and psychological growth of Huckleberry Finn as the main protagonist of this bildungsroman. Huck is an orphan through his selfish father and it is upon being adopted by the widow Douglas that Huck first experiences society. Huck is a fatherless figure for the main part, occasionally seeing his real father after months of separation. In being orphaned through his father’s drunken ways, Huck is taken in by the widow Douglas and Miss Watson and there his influences and teaching of morals lie. Huck’s apprehension about society and its rules and regulations leads Huck, throughout the rest of the narrative, to question the teachings he has received and it is the questions in which he asks himself that shape his maturation of character. In terms of society, ‘The tragic irony of the novel is Huck's inner awareness that membership in the cult will involve the dissolution of his character and the denial of his values’ (Cox: 1954: 401). Here, Cox has summed up, in one sentence, the internal debate Huck will have for the rest of the bildungsroman. If Huck stays within society, his true character will not shine through as he possesses a different set of rules and morals to those in which society collectively are trying to impose upon him. The Bildungsroman will portray Huck’s search for his own identity and alongside that, his own set of morals and values.

The physical landscape of the environment surrounding Huck is compared and contrasted to the internal landscape he bears through mind and spirit, those of questioning his morals and interpretations. Throughout the bildungsroman Huck is continually forced to question the moral teachings that have been inflicted upon him through society and the characters within the landscapes he encounters and it is through his adventures within these different landscapes which endeavour to make him the character he becomes as the novel progresses, one of moral and psychological growth. The views stored inside Huck are not his own but are a product of society. When he is temporary removed from the landscape of society into a pending location, whether that be of the Mississippi river or one of the landscapes he encounters onshore, through his own exploration of the landscape, Huck is able to formulate his own views on what he thinks is correct and not simply follow the rules of society and those who have tried to civilize him. It is with Huck’s experience and understanding in different landscapes which ultimately makes the theme of landscape extremely important to this Bildungsroman novel. Most notably throughout the entire bildungsroman is his relationship and strong friendship with Jim which symbolises his lack of regard for the rules of whites and blacks in a societal landscape which he considers to be unfair, something which will be discussed later in the chapter.

Within Twain’s Bildungsroman, a lot of importance is embedded upon the external landscape of the Mississippi River. Landscape is of paramount importance throughout Huckleberry Finn and arguably, this novel would not be a Bildungsroman without the Mississippi river, the focal point of the novel. The Mississippi River, at the commencement of this Bildungsroman, symbolizes the freedom and escape route for Huck from a crowded landscape of society and civilisation. The river itself serves as an escape for the two main protagonists, a runaway slave called Jim and Huck, a young and adopted boy. In terms of plot expansion, the Mississippi landscape enhances the actions of the novel as the main source of transportation to the different internal and external landscapes which shape the narrative of the Bildungsroman. ‘…one must register as well the sense in which landscape is all about forgetting, about getting away from the real in ways that may produce astonishing dislocations’ (2000: Mitchell: 198). This can be applied to the journey in which Huck takes in trying to dislocate and isolate himself from the previous society he inhabited which he now wants to forget. The conflicting landscapes along the banks of the Mississippi river, whether internal or external, serve as the exploration ground for Huck’s development and maturation. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Mississippi river landscape is effect it exposes Huck to, one of realisation. Having run away from society and the social expectations the widow was trying to inflict upon him, Huck uses his time upon the river to start questioning his views and beliefs which in turn, will enable him to mature and grow as a person.

The Mississippi river as a natural, neutral landscape can be directly linked to the characteristics and background of Huck. Huck as an outsider for the large part, has a different outlook on life compared to the inhabitants of society. Huck appears happiest when he is away from society, before the widow Douglas tried to civilize him in the internal landscape of her home. Huck dislikes the social and cultural connotations that make him behave himself, show good manners and generally confine him to a life he is not comfortable with. It is with this which makes him long to be able to return to his previous life of freedom in nature, where no one tried to change him. The contrast between freedom and civilization is clear. Both Huck and Jim search for freedom during their adventure down the Mississippi, and both find that civilization within the different external landscapes they visit presents a large obstacle to obtaining their dream.

Having mentioned the contrasting themes of internal and external, an important external setting is the comparison between onshore and offshore landscapes. The landscapes on the Mississippi and the contrasting landscapes off the raft expose Huck and Jim to danger and testing situations aiding his moral and psychological education. The beginning of their journey along the Mississippi river sees Huck and Jim apply strong admiration for their new home. ‘We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft’ (Twain: Date: 142 ). The admiration they both show towards the raft could be down to Hucks’ childish fantasies, (he is living the adventure he always acted out with his friends) and Jim’s gratefulness to be in external, natural landscape instead of the secluded, internal landscape he inhabited as a slave. ‘It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened—Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many’ (Twain: Date: 145). In relation to Huck’s love of natural, free from rules landscapes, the river shows the natural life of Huck in an external landscape with little rules, a landscape he is happiest within. Throughout the novel, Twain continues to outline the difference between the two worlds, those of onshore and offshore.

The internal landscape of Pap’s cabin in which we see Huck confined in symbolizes the start of the bildungsroman adventure. Being confined within a scene reflects the traditional bildungsroman style where a character is isolated from their normal landscape and must survive with only their personal resources to hand which usually starts their maturation. Huck fakes his own death, inventing and carrying out a plan in order to escape his aggressive father and return to the external landscape of nature. ‘I took the axe and smashed in the door. I beat it and hacked it considerable a- doing it. I fetched the pig in, and took him back nearly to the table and hacked into his throat with the axe, and laid him down on the ground to bleed…last I pulled out some of my hair, and blooded the axe good’ (Twain: date: p48). In planning to fake his own death Huck shows his maturity in being able to distance himself from a dangerous landscape and the dangerous people that inhabit it, in this case, his father.

Throughout the entire bildungsroman and all the internal and external landscapes that Huck encounters, his relationship with Jim, the runaway slave, serves as the biggest indicator of Huck growing and maturing as a character. The Mississippi river is the most important landscape throughout the bildungsroman and adjacent to that, it is important to analyze the introduction of Huck to Jim which occurs on Jackson’s Island shortly after Huck flees the aggressive internal landscape of his father’s cabin ‘I rose up, and there was Jackson’s Island, about two mile and a half downstream, heavy timbered and standing up out of the middle of the river, big and dark and solid’ (Twain: date: 51). It is upon Jackson’s island and the introduction of Huck to Jim which starts his mental debate of freedom. After learning Jim has runaway, Huck is torn between returning Jim to society or allowing him to be free, as Huck wishes for himself. This is the start of Huck’s moral questioning as he struggles to come to terms with whether he should do what he feels is correct or what society has taught him is correct as indicated in the following passage:

‘"maybe I better not tell"

"Why, Jim?"

"Well, dey’s reasons; But you wouldn’ tell on me ef I uz to tell you, would you, Huck?"

"Blamed if I would, Jim."

"Well, I B’lieve you, Huck. I- I RUN OFF."


"But mind, you said you wouldn’ tell—you know you said you wouldn’ tell, Huck."

"Well, I did. I said I wouldn’ t, and I’ll stick to it. Honest INJUN, I will. People would call me a low-down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum--but that don’t make no difference" (Twain: Date: 59).

This extract shows the two sides to Hucks moral debate. He must choose between keeping Jim’s secret or returning him back to society. By expressing that people will ‘despise’ him, Huck shows the readers just how serious an act he is partaking in, that of keeping Jim a free man instead of returning him back to society. This extract shows the importance of societies views on slaves. By adopting a carefree attitude towards Jim and treating him like an equal human being shows not only Huck’s genuine characteristics to treat blacks as equals, but it foreshadows the future relationship between Huck and Jim as they progress further through their journey where in turn, Huck will finally commit himself to letting Jim be a free man. After several more debates within himself. Although Huck has shown tendencies to reject society's beliefs, he cannot immediately dismiss societies rules and regulations and it is with his head in two mind frames which leads him to question many more times, his personal morals before he reaches a final conclusion at the end of the bildungsroman.

Although Huck keeps his word and doesn’t return Jim to society for running away, it is evident throughout the novel that Huck has not entirely accepted Jim as an equal. Throughout the novel, Huck plays a series of practical jokes on Jim. In chapter ten, on the external landscape of Jackson’s Island, Huck puts a dead snake in Jim’s bed. ‘I went to the cavern to get some, [tobacco] and found a rattlesnake in there. I killed him, and curled him, up on the foot of Jims’ blanket, ever so natural, thinking there’d be some fun when Jim found him there. Well, by night I forgot all about the snake, and when Jim flung himself down on the blanket while I struck a light the snake’s mate was there, and bit him’ (Twain: date: 71). After his joke backfires, Huck states: ‘I slid out quite and throwed the snakes clear away amongst the bushes; for I warn't going to let Jim find out it was all my fault, not if I could help it’ (Twain:Date: 70). By aiming his jokes towards Jim, Huck has subconsciously treated Jim inferior and it can be argued that, through his time within the internal landscape of a society that places whites above blacks, these views have rubbed off on Huck.

Chapter Fifteen sees a second practical joke aimed at Jim but, compared to the first incident where Huck feels no remorse for his actions, after witnessing Jim’s reaction to his actions, Huck begins to feel guilt for what he has done, something which is important in a character on their journey towards maturation. When travelling along the Mississippi river on their raft, a large cloud of fog separates Huck and Jim. Upon reuniting, Huck states: ‘When I got to it Jim was setting there with his head down between his knees, asleep, with his right arm hanging over the steering-oar’ (Twain: Date: 106)… ‘I made fast and laid down under Jim’s nose on the raft, and began to gap, and stretch my fists out against Jim, and says: "Hello, Jim, have I been asleep? Why didn’t you stir me up?"’ (Twain: date: 106). These are the actions which will in turn lead to Huck’s apology to Jim. Huck decides to act as if Jim has dreamt the entire fog situation and explains that he has been asleep the entire time:

‘"What fog?"

"Why, de fog! De fog dat’s been aroun’ all night. En didn’t you whoop, en didn’t I woop, tell we got mix’ up in de islands en one un us got los’ en t’other one was jis’ as good as los’…"

"Well, this is too many for me, Jim. I Hain’t seen no fog. I been setting here talking with you all night till you went to sleep about ten minutes ago…"

"But, Huck, it’s all jis’ as plain to me as—"’ (Twain: Date: 107-8).

Although Huck is a child and his joke may be portrayed as harmless, Huck lacks the maturity to realise the severity of his actions and how his actions make Jim feel emotionally. Huck only starts to feel guilt and remorse when Jim explains how much he cares about Huck: ‘…my heart wuz mos’ broke bekase you wuz los’, en I didn’ k’yer no’ mo’ what become er me en de raf’…’ (Twain: Date: 109). In explaining how important his friendship with Huck is, Jim makes Huck feels guilty at having treated his friend harshly. At this realisation, Huck apoligises to Jim showing he has made a further step towards maturity. ‘It made me so mean I could almost kissed HIS foot to get him to take it back. It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterwards, neither. I didn’t do him no more mean tricks, and wouldn’t done that one if I’d a knowed it would make him feel that way’ (Twain: Date: 109).

Marx proposes an interesting theory on Twain’s Mississippi and Missouri landscape. He applies a theory that Twain has two dominant ways of viewing the landscape: ‘The pastoral and the industrial. The pastoral view is likened to that of a steamboat passenger enjoying the beauty afforded by the leisurely river journey. The industrial view, by contrast, is likened to that of a veteran steamboat pilot whose gaze is no longer free to indulge in such sentimental, superficial image of nature, but who must constantly interpret the landscape warily and see it explicitly in terms of dangers to be avoided’ (Jackson: 2002: 53).

Chapter two:

Urban Vs. rural and the development of self-identity

I wander through each chartered street,

   Near where the chartered Thames does flow

(William Blake: date)

‘The typical English Bildungsroman is split into three sections: childhood, youth and maturity’ (Boes: 2006: 234). Within Bildungsroman novels, the main protragonist is more often than not, an orphan. The protagonist would go from being orphaned in a country landscape and, after some education, the protagonist wanted to rise within society to seek fortune in an urban, city landscape which was generally London, as is the case with Great Expectations. It was the temporal shift of rural environment to urban landscape that the protagonists’ real education began and it is through the different landscapes which enabled a character to learn and gain knowledge through experience. Only by re-evaluating his values can the protagonist demonstrate their maturity. The act of returning to the original landscape where the character derived enables the readers to evaluate the success and level of the characters maturation. It is interesting to acknowledge that throughout the bildungsroman, Dickens initiates to the reader when the different stages of the bildungsroman commence and close: ‘This is the end of the first stage of Pip’s expectations’ (Dickens: date: 196), ‘This is the end of the second stage of Pip’s expectations’ (Dickens: date: 397). Great Expectations takes the form of a Bildungsroman, in which the protagonists gains insight through their experiences and are able to move from childhood to adulthood.

Tobias Boes, Author of Modernist Studies and the Bildungsroman states that: ‘in a Bildungsroman, "[a] regular development is observed in the life of the individual: each of the stages has its own intrinsic value and is at the same time the basis for a higher stage" (Boes: 2006: 8). This structure is clear for Pip, with each of the three stages of his bildungsroman contributing to the final acknowledgement of maturation at the culmination of the novel. The story of Pip follows the typical English Bildungsroman. His childhood is spent in a country landscape at the forge of Joe Gargery, His first education is received through biddy and his visits to Satis house where he essentially receives a taste of how the upper classes live and finally, the third stage of this bildungsroman sees Pip follow the tradition of the English Bildungsroman and move to a cosmopolitan city, London and it is his time spent within this landscape which enables Pip to mature and gain a sense of identity of which will be discussed within this chapter.

Great Expectations, perhaps more than any other Dickens novel, is characterised by a pervasive recording of place. There are two principal settings, the natural landscape of the 'marsh country' in which the central character, Pip, is brought up, together with the man-made, urban landscape of the 'nearest town', London. It is with these two opposing landscapes of urban and rural that we can analyse the influence landscape can have on revealing the accurate identity of a character, enabling them the tools and knowledge to reach maturation. This chapter will analyse the influence of opposing landscapes and settings in terms of Pip’s education and growth. The opposing landscapes of urban and rural usually represent to the reader that rural is innocence and urban is experience. Like Huck, Pip is an orphaned, fatherless figure who seeks a role model in Joe Gargery. The external, physical landscapes of the graveyard and misty marshes are among the most symbolic within this bildungsroman and the misty marshes surrounding Pips home are essential to the progression within the plot. It is within chapter one that we gain a real sense of Pip’s lonely, internal landscape as the reader discovers the death of his family: ‘At such a time I found out for certain that this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dikes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes’ (Dickens: Date: 3). The marshes are mainly significant as an external landscape for they introduce the character of Magwitch to the plot, ultimately allowing Pip to find his real identity through his adventure in the urban landscape of London due to the money he receives through Magwitch as a benefactor. It is perhaps the revelation that Magwitch is his benefactor that influences the biggest change in Pip’s morals. It is important to mention that Magwitch and his status as a criminal is interesting in terms of the way Pip’s behaviour changes upon his shift to an urban landscape. Upon living in the city, Pip treats his past and essentially the individuals from his past landscape diabolically, which will be analysed later in the chapter.

Pip throughout the novel, is a clear example of how identity shifts can occur in regards to whether a character inhabits a rural or urban landscape adding to the dramatic structure of the novel. According to John Lucas, ‘the novel is not lament for lost youth. Instead, it is an unflinching portrait of a man’s life’ (Lucas: 1970: 289). As the main protagonist, the entire novel is set around Pips conquest in trying to find real self-identity amongst the social classes of Victorian society as he shifts from rural to urban landscapes. Lucas continues, ‘all we require is the evidence by which the ‘I’ of the novel or poem shows us how he has become what he is’ (Lucas: 1970: 290), something which great expectations portrays through the narration of Pip as an adult, narrating his childhood years throughout the entire novel adding to the explanation of how Pip arrives at his true identity at the close of the bildungsroman. An interesting point between Pips name and the genre of the novel can be observed. A pip can be described as a small pip which grows into something, portraying the theme of the beginning of life or growth. It is important then to consider the emphasis of growth as this is a key feature of the protagonist within a Bildungsroman. Like a fruit pip, Pip will eventually grow in character as a pip does in size and it is this growth which is chartered throughout Great Expectations. A pip is associated with nature, therefore the natural, external landscapes in which pip derives from reflect that of his name and essentially his identity which becomes clear by the end of the Bildungsroman.

The influence of landscapes and people play an important role in affecting the maturation of Pip as the main protagonist. Perhaps the most important landscape Pip encounters is the internal and external aspects of his introduction to Satis house. Most notably influential to Pip is the treatment he receives during his time at Satis house. Miss Havisham’s daughter, Estella, shows cruel, degrading attitudes towards Pip and it is here in which Pip first comes to be ashamed of his simple upbringing. Upon being asked to play cards with Pip, Estella states: ‘"With this boy? Why, he is a common laboring boy!’" (Dickens: Date: 73). Throughout his time within the internal landscape of the house, Estella continues to comment upon the personal appearance and characteristics of Pip: ‘"He calls the knaves Jacks, this boy!" said Estella with disdain, before our first game was out. "And what coarse hands he has! And what thick boots!"’ (Dickens: Date: 74). It is from his time at Satis house that Pip is introduced to the way the rich live. Interestingly, before his experiences here, Pip had not thought to question his upbringing: ‘I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it’ (Dickens: Date: 74). It is after his education of how others live which prompts Pip to question his social standing. Through his first hand experiences of this landscape, along with the harsh commentary imposed upon him through Estella, Pip leaves Satis house with great expectations. It is from this encounter that enables Pip to so eagerly agree to take leave of his existing landscapes in order to move to London at the first chance he gets.

As the bildungsroman progresses, Pip becomes not only ashamed of himself but of those he claims to hold closest to him. In chapter thirteen, upon Pip and Joe visiting Miss Havisham at Satis house to discuss Pip’s being apprenticed, Pip shows early signs of being ashamed by the rural environment he derives from. ‘I am afraid to say I was ashamed of the dear good fellow’ (2000. p.86), which relates to the embarrassment he feels towards Joe, as Joe fails to address Miss Havisham when conducting his speech. The small details from scenes such as these are what cause Pip to believe that he can better himself, that he is not destined to live in a quite rural landscape. With Pip’s shift from rural to urban, sees the biggest change in Pip’s real self-identity, through experience of the urban itself. Pip, although fond of Joe, adopts a different persona upon living in London, ignoring Joe’s letters and treating him coldly.

After arriving in London and effectively becoming a gentleman, Pip creates a rather low opinion of himself acting arrogant and conceited towards those around him. Pip now beholds the very characteristics he once detested. His harsh treatment of others is most recognizable upon Joe writing to Pip, telling him he is visiting him in his new landscape of London. ‘I was looking forward to Joe’s coming. Not with pleasure, though I was bound to him by so many ties; no; with considerable disturbance, some mortification, and a keen sense of incongruity. If I could have kept him away by paying money, I certainly would have paid money’ (Dickens: Date: 266). It is the integration of Pip’s previous rural landscape to that of his new urban one which portrays the lowest part of his character. Critic Norman Page states, ‘his callous treatment of Joe Gargery was essentially criminal’ (Norma: 1991: 10). This suggests that since living in an urban environment, Pip has forgotten his true sense of identity and the good morals instilled in him. He seems to have forgotten that Joe brought him up, provided him with work and comforted him throughout his childhood thus letting himself be influenced by an urban environment. Unlike Joe, Pip seems to be affected by the shift from urban to rural landscapes therefore it could loosely be argued that as Pip’s new life in an urban environment is made possible by a criminal, Pip therefore is behaving like a criminal as he has had this life imposed upon him, that it is not really who he is. K.J.Fielding explains that ‘in Great Expectations, though, there are people who try to go beyond this level of self- expression and to control their immediate surroundings by imposing on them fictions so thorough that they become dangerous to others’ (1960. p. 131). Pip excessively spends his fortune on materialistic things in order to appear above everyone else within society and it is throughout stage two of the novel, Pip’s stages of self-gratification and self- interest which eventually leave Pip with no money and broken-hearted.

Although Pip behaves snobbishly and callously towards people when he shifts from rural to urban landscapes, he redeems himself in ways of being a generous and sympathetic young man. This can be witnessed in several different ways. Most noticeably is the way he helps Magwitch. Having discovered that Magwitch is his secret benefactor and not Miss Havisham as first desired, Pip’s great expectations are shattered at the realisation that Miss Havisham had not funded Pip’s journey into the gentleman classes with the purpose of having him marry her daughter Estella. Initially, Pip is horrified and the way he deals with the situation makes him appear selfish, arrogant and ungrateful, personality factors he must acknowledge before he is able to return to his childhood landscape to portray the extent of his maturation. It is evident that Pip is unhappy with the revelation: ‘All the truth of my position came flashing on me; and its disappointments, dangers, disgraces, consequences of all kinds, rushed in in such a multitude that I was borne down by them and had to struggle for every breath I drew’ (Dickens: Date: 390) … ‘The abhorrence in which I held the man, the dread I had of him, the repugnance with which I shrank from him, could not have been exceeded if he had been some terrible beast’ (Dickens: Date: 391). The portrayal of these characteristics show the reader that Pip has become a vile human being. Pip is ungrateful towards Magwitch when the reader would expect him to be grateful for having been given the opportunity to become a gentleman. Pip’s ungratefulness is portrayed further with Magwitch’s declaration towards the younger Pip: ‘Yes, pip, dear boy, I’ve made a gentleman on you! It’s me wot has done it! I swore that time, sure as ever I earned a guinea, that guinea should go on you. I swore afterwards, sure as ever I spec’lated and got rich, you should get rich. I lived rough, that you should live smooth; I worked hard, that you should be above work!’ (Dickens: date: 391). Interestingly, at the beginning of the Bildungsroman Pip was perceived as the better human being, helping Magwitch despite his appearance and background. Towards the latter part of the novel however, Pip’s treatment of Magwitch implores that Magwitch is the higher social being and Magwitch is elevated in terms of morals because he helped Pip in order to oblige Pip for helping him. Pip displays himself as a heartless feign, believing himself to be of upper society, forgetting those who have helped him so far throughout his journey of life.

However, as Pip enters the third and final stage of his bildungsroman journey, that of redemption and acknowledgement, it is important to note his acknowledgement of all the good Magwitch has done for him, including risking his own life in order to visit Pip and tell him how grateful he was that Pip helped him all those years ago on the marsh landscapes. Pip eventually redeems his arrogant character by helping Magwitch: ‘Dear Magwitch, I must tell you, now at last, You had a child once whom you loved and lost, she lived and found powerful friends. She is living now. She is a lady and very beautiful and I love her’ (Dickens: date: 561). In doing this, Pip enables any on going confrontations within Magwitch’s internal landscape to be answered.

‘No more low, wet grounds, no more dikes and sluices, no more of these grazing cattle, -- though they seemed, in their dull manner, to wear a more respectful air now, and to face round, in order they might stare as long as possible at the possessor of such great expectations, -- farewell, monotonus accauntances of my childhood, henceforth I was for London and greatness; not for smith’s work in general, and for you!’ (Dickens: Date: 182).

It is only the realisation from Pip that his desire to be a gentleman has hurt those who he holds dearest to his heart that he can truly be happy and return back to the lower classes. Pip’s unrealistic ‘great expectations’ and his time in the external landscape of urban London have enabled him to see what was really important in life. Throughout his journey of maturation through many different external and internal landscapes, Pip comes to realise that money and wealth could not buy his happiness, something he once believed before he set out to seek his great expectations.

‘Dickens sought not only to inscribe but also to reveal the inscription of the fractured quality of the urban experience’ (Hogarth: 2008: 86). His ‘emphasis falls on the inhabitants who have become 'unsettled, dissi-pated, wandering' (Seed: 2004: 157) and Pip is the idealised example of the individual seeking identity. Upon entering London, Pips expectations are shattered with the realisation that London does not hold the high expectations he envisaged and are further shattered by the revelation that his journey towards adulthood and a gentleman were not for the purpose he had envisaged for himself.


There is an eternal landscape,

Geography of the soul;

We search for its outlines all our lives.’

(Josephine Hart: date)

As discussed and represented throughout this essay, the strong relationship between landscape and the individual is evident in terms of landscape influencing and education the individual and aiding their journey to find true identity. The different landscapes which the protagonists of these two bildungsroman novels encounter fuel them with the correct knowledge to enable them to grow as a person, socially and morally, the intended outcome for a bildungsroman novel. The lessons they learn about their own behaviour in these landscapes fuel their need for change and enable them to make the transition from childhood or adolescence to adulthood and maturation. In Great Expectations, we see Pip travel through three stages of moral maturity. Throughout the course of the novel, different landscapes enable Pip to learn life long lessons that result from pain, guilt and shame. Pip evolves from a young boy filled with guilt and shame to a selfish, young man and finally into a man who has come to have true concern for others. The three stages of the novel in which Pip deals with are those of shame and guilt, self- gratification and his final stages of redemption which portray the success of his journey of maturation.