is a novel which has been historically acclaimed as a portrait of the Victorian society of Eng-land, and of the social mobility that was taking place during this time of upheaval. Named for the autocratic monarch of the country at that time, this period was marked by a gradual liberalisation of the native warlords (who began taking on a more political than military role) and of the gender-segregated and caste-based society. The author of the novel, Dickens Charles (Man
, a common Eng-land name), was one of the most representative writers of Eng-land.
My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip1, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.1 Horse-lover
I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his tombstone and my sister - Mrs. Joe2 Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones3. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana4 Wife of the Above," I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly. To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine - who gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle - I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of existence.
Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things, seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain, that this bleak place overgrown with nettles5 was the churchyard6; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this parish7, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander8, Bartholomew9, Abraham10, Tobias11, and Roger12, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes13 and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.
. The Anglo-Saxon peoples originated as nomadic horse-tribes. A Christian name
is the given name of the person, typically bestowed upon a child in a religious initation ritual called christening
. A family name
is a second name common to all members of a patriarchal family unit. These peoples put the given name preceding the family name.2
An abbreviation of the common name He-will-add
is a prefix that indicates his aunt was the wife of Gargery Joe. Women in this time legally renounced their own names and properties upon their marriages.3
These people traditionally bury their dead and erect over the graves small squarish stones carved with the names of the deceased.4
A female form of the common name Farmer
A weed which stings the hands, common to the inhospitable terrain of Eng-land.6
A burial-yard attached to a church
(religious building; these people are typically monotheists whose central tenet of faith is the incarnation, execution and resurrection of their god).7
The region supervised by a single member of their priesthood.8 Defender-of-men
. In their tribal mythology, this was a nomad who made a contract with their patron god to be the ancestor of many descendants as long as they kept their agreement.11 God-is-good
. By this time, however, the Anglo-Saxon peoples were no longer organised in a warrior-oriented caste system. Armies still existed, and could be summoned by the native warlords (called peers of the realm
A flood-gate, frequently found in the landscape which the narrator describes.