Bounding Chains: Social Conventions in David Copperfield and Great Expectations

Open Access
Galli, Sabrina Marie
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Robert Lougy, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lisa Ruth Sternlieb, Honors Advisor
  • Dickens
  • Realism
  • Morality
  • Happiness
In both David Copperfield and Great Expectations, Charles Dickens provides social commentary through the exploitation and understanding of social conventions. Two coming-of age novels differ drastically in their representations of Victorian society and what it means to find happiness within it. When Dickens published David Copperfield in 1850, he chose to reward his protagonist with happiness in both his career and family. Moral character, the ability to demonstrate right from wrong, became the determining factor of success for those in David’s life. Dickens evokes a darker tone in Great Expectations, creating a reality where happiness is a complex issue.