How does Dickens's redefinition of the protagonist relate to Austen's contribution to the novel? Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar cite a major contribution by Austen (and other woman writers) to the novelistic tradition:

Refusing to appreciate such angelic paragons as [Richardson's] Clarissa or Pamela, Austen criticizes the morally pernicious equation of female virtue with passivity, or masculinity with aggression. . . . She rejects stories in which women simply defend their virtue against male sexual advances. . . . Because she realizes that writers like Richardson and Byron have truthfully represented the power struggle between the sexes, however, she does seek a way of telling their story without perpetuating it. In each of her novels, a seduced-and-abandoned plot is embedded in the form of an interpolated tale told to the heroine as a monitory image of her own problematic story. [p. 119]

What changes in the traditional narrative, relationships between men and women, and other aspects of the novel does Dickens make?

Are there any strong men with normal family relationships in Great Expectations?


Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979.

Last modified 1996