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Charles Dickens' Picture Of Childhood in Victorian Times Great Expectations is set in early Victorian England, a period when great social changes were sweeping the country. The Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries had transformed the social landscape, allowing capitalists and manufacturers to amass huge fortunes. Although social class was no longer completely dependent on the conditions of one's birth, the divisions between rich and poor stayed almost as broad as ever. London, a teeming mass of humanity, lit by gas lamps during the night and darkened by black clouds from smokestacks throughout the daytime, formed a sharp contrast with the country's sparsely populated rural areas. A growing number of people moved from the country into the city in search of greater economic opportunity. Throughout England, the manners of the upper class were rather rigorous and conservative: gentlemen and women were expected to have thorough classical educations and to act appropriately in innumerable social situations. These conditions characterized Dickens's time, and they make themselves felt in nearly every facet of Great Expectations. Pip's sudden increase from country labourer to city gentleman forces him to move from one societal extreme to another while dealing with the strict principles and expectations that governed Victorian England. Ironically, this novel concerning the desire for wealth and social advancement was written partially out of financial necessity. Great Expectations opens into a gloomy, murky marsh. This 'bleak place overgrown with nettles' is where Pip spends most of the time, we can assume this as Pip has spent enough time there t.. .