Equilibrium between Author and Time in "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens

Presentation (Elaboration), 2015

6 Pages

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Methodology. The aim and the outline of the study

Equilibrium between Dickens and his novels



Select Bibliography


This paper is an inquiry into the connection between the author time and story time, being the time is the characteristic of narrative. It is an attempt to determine whether there is a relation between author time e.g. "Charles Dickens" and Story time "Great Expectations". The focal point on which this subject has to be mainly directed is to show how the two times have an internal impact on the subjective reading of the author himself .In the other hands, the early age of the character in the narrative text has some symbolic sequences on the writer himself. This can be studied to see how the recurrence of the starting of the story by the existence of revealing an early stage of the character age in some of Dickens's novels of biographies. In this regard, it will be the main field of this study, the idea of opposing the time of the character along with the author's personal experience. The nature of this study and analysis will show how can the narrative be reflected on the internal ramification of his personal life. The similarity of the two times will have a great aspect in the analysis in order to see whether they can be equally connected or not. This paper attempts to answer this question; How does story time come about?

Methodology. The aim and the outline of the study

The present paper attempts to pay much heed to the structure of the time regarding the author’s personal experience. The narratologicaltechniques will have to be adopted to analyze Dickens’s novels to show the connection between the author as the producer of literary work and the main character of the novel. This study will also focus on some Dickens’s novels e.g. Hard Times, Oliver Twist, A tale of two cities, David Copperfield and Great Expectations to achieve adequate understanding of their time with the internal impact of the subjective of reading of Dickens himself.

The study will be divided into two parts; theoretical and empirical, the fourth part where Genette’s theory is adopted, which is a sequel of the three theoretical parts and will focus on the chronological order and anachronisms in Dickens’s Great expectations, the detailed explanations and analysis of order and duration will assist to place the paper in its broader framework. The fifth and last part will be particularly devoted to conclusions, remarks and recommendations.

In my PHD, I am carrying out Genette’s theory to show their distribution of explaining the concept of time and I try to show the reason beyond using Charles Dickens to his early childhood, in some of his novels. In other hands, it should be the early age of the character in the narrative text has some symbolic sequences on Dickens himself.

The paper will generally study the four novels and it will profoundly study Great Expectations as a model. For this reason, range of novels relevant to this subject will have been examined, for the sake of the main topic on which I am working for this paper.

Equilibrium between Dickens and his novels

Charles Dickens, the famous English writer chose, for the sketch of his character, one unfamiliar way to outline a framework for a timetable for his characters. In fact thanks to Calder who extracted a rare manuscript purported to Dickens in which the author drew for his characters certain ages just before the set out for his work.This way of thinking could have been characterized as rather unfamiliar. From this side of considering I will have to investigate the extent of the author’s internal life on the affecting of his way for designating a chronology relevant to his main characters. Consequently, this kind of elaborating timetable before engaging in his work will have to be taken into account to verify any kind of similarity between this way of preparation and the internal personal life, even indirectly.

In addition that, the main point after having exposed a various points of view, can lead us to focus on the style of Dickens to see some kinds of similarity between the dates being mentioned in his novels and aspects of his on life. This can show the great impact of his personal life on the main characters of his novels.From this comparison, it will have been showed the extent of the personal life of the writer on his literary products.

It has already been quite clear that the novelist didn’t change the mode of his style during the starting point at which the early childhood has been considerably represented , ranging from four to seven years. It is notable to point out that once one look in the first chapters of his five novels in which one can see that it would not be coincide that he stated in his previous novels with mentioning his early childhood, though, these novels had been written in different stages of his age. That starting point has not been left out in his style , particularly across the contents of his four novels. As for the fourth novel ‘ Great Expectations’ which is the main subject of this paper, it deals with seeking to find the ambiguous relation between Charles Dickens and the time in his novels.

The early beginning is one of the distinctive features which Dickens has in his style of writing his novels The story time of Dickens's Great Expectations recounts the experiences of Pip from childhood to adulthood. Consequently, Dickens begins his novel with an ambiguous beginning to make the reader decide the age of Pip. Great Expectations begins at earlier of the beginning of chronological order of the story ."My infant tongue could make both names nothing longer or explicit than Pip" ( Ch. I .35).

The duration of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens covers approximately 28 years, consisting of on 59 chapters which are divided into three expectations covering about 456 pages; the novel includes 87 analepses, 21 prolepses, 7 ellipses, 73 summaries, 31 descriptive pauses, and 233 scenes.


This research will indeed shed some light on the author time ‘ Charles Dickens’ and Narrative time ‘ some of his novels will show the basic connection between them through examining the five of Dickens’s novels. The time of the author’s life has nearly harmonized with the narrative time. Although these five novels have been written in different stages of Dickens’s life, the starting point in these novels will be the main subject of this research.

In addition, the paper will show the ratio of narration time in Dickens’s novels

In applying narratological features to Great Expectations, the main discussion concerns order and duration whereas frequency is ruled out. Consequently, order can be presented by two different narrative techniques; through the profound analysis of analepsis and prolepsis to show the chronological and anachronological order of the novel. The equilibrium between both of them in order to shade light and give a comprehensive notion of the so-called pre-narration.

A further analysis of the novel also includes the alternation of the four narrative movements of duration which are divided into techniques of deceleration; descriptive pause and scene whereas techniques of accelerations; ellipsis and summary.

The diagrams and tables in the fourth chapter of the study aim to reach semi-statistical deduction for the chronological techniques of anachronism and its effect on the structure of the narrative time of the novel as whole, which gives a general idea about the system of the time in Great Expectations. Finally, this study is considered as a springboard for future studies which may be concerned with the narrative techniques and analysis of narrative discourse.


This paper would not have come to fruition without the encouraging guidance of Professor John Pier, to whom go deepest gratitude and admiration and whose help has been invaluable in making me to join this conference, once again I would like to thank him for his non-stop assistance .

Select Bibliography

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Dickens, Charles. By Angus Calder (1960-61) [1979].Great Expectations. Great Britian,Penguin Books.

Great Expectations. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Expectations)

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Ricouer.P.(1985) Time and the Narrative. London. University of Chicago press,Ltd.

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Nilesh Parekh (2005) Charles Dickens Biography .http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/2-12-2005-65659.asp

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Equilibrium between Author and Time in "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens
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This paper was presentend at ENN4, the fourth bi-annual conference of the European Narratology Network (ENN), which took place at Ghent University, Belgium from 16 to 18 April 2015.
author, time, narration, great expectations, charles dickens
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Ayman E. M.Geedallah (Author), 2015, Equilibrium between Author and Time in "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/312366


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