The aim of this essay is to define Hans
Robert Jauss’ concept and to illustrate the reader’s, author’s and characters’ horizons
of expectation in Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations”.
making a compromise between the history-ignorant Russian Formalism, and the
text-ignorant social theories, Hans Robert Jauss came up with the term “horizon
of expectation” for the criteria that the readers abide by when analysing literary
texts of a said period of time. Through it, we become aware of the work’s
initial interpretation and the way in which it had been valued. All the same,
the horizon of expectation is not set in stone. It changes accordingly to each
age, literature being reinterpreted differently according to the knowledge,
experience and cultural enviornment.
form a major part of the novel’s action, for they govern the characters’ way of
acting, thinking, the way in which they perceive and react to the events that
occur. Each expectation is formed around desire, namely future fulfilments.
However, none of the expectation in the novel come true, no matter how great or
small they seem to be.
being said, and with the help of the novel’s subjectivity, numerous
coincidences and the influence on the unaware reader, we are bound to expect
that the characters’ expectations will be achieved. As we only witness Pip’s
perspective on the story, no alternative is being brought before us. Thus, we
are made believe that Miss Havisham is the person that helps Pip become a
gentleman, when in reality it was Abel Magwitch who helped him, for Miss
Havisham only aided our protagonist into becoming Joe’s apprentice and had no
intention to marry him with Estella. Pumblechook and Pip’s sister expect him to
inherit land from Miss Havisham, but it never happens. Miss Havisham had great expectations from
life, until Compeyson betrayed her on their wedding day and she froze in time.
In the beginning of the book Pip makes an assumption concerning how his parents
were based on their tombstones, and constantly expects to be thrown in the jail
for helping Abel and stealing food from his sister and Joe.
the novel, we experience our protagonist’s growth as he gets accustomed to his
great expectations only to see them crumble, shockingly, one by one.. We expect
Pip to wake up from his misunderstanding of what a gentleman truly is, and to
stop pretending to be one. His idealistic view upon the situation is only
changed when Abel confesses that he is the source of his income. Magwitch and
Joe come true to the nature of a gentleman more than Pip did throughout the
whole book, despite them being a convict and a mere blacksmith. Although he had
been warned about the dangers of his expectations by Estella, Pip stubbornly
wishes to become a gentleman so that she will marry him. As Pip is warned by
Estella, the reader is warned by the mists, for in each scene that contains
mists, something bad is bound to happen.
sense of insecurity and the relation opressor-opressed are common in the novel.
Not knowing who his parents were, and having been risen without their
protection, Pip never felt security and isolated himself from the world. His
expectations feed upon his lacks, for as an orphan he has no social status.
Finally, they dehumanize him, as he falls victim to them. The main realtion
between the characters is that of the opressor and the opressed. As Jaggers is
Wemmick’s opressor, Wemmick is the opressor of Jaggers’ convicts. Through this
relation, the opressor may also reap what he sows, Abel being able to enjoy
Pip’s gentleman’s status, for he could never achieve it, or, Pip being able to
turn Herbert into a partner in their business after becoming his source of
believe that, by using the first person narrative, the author expects to
manipulate the reader through subjectivity and emotion, which he achieves, as
this being the cause of him having to change the sad ending with a happy
version, suggesting that Pip and Estella will marry.
conclusion, the characters’ expectations play a big role in their actions and
are nurtured by their lacks. All of them crumble, however, and we, as readers
are persuaded into following the story, through Pip’s eyes, and into getting
emotionally involved with it, waiting for their expectations to come true, but never