Dickens's Great Expectations

Dickens's Great Expectations

Misnar's Pavilion versus Cinderella

Jerome Meckier


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Dickens scholar Jerome Meckier's acclaimed Hidden Rivalries in Victorian Fiction examined fierce literary competition between leading novelists who tried to establish their credentials as realists by rewriting Dickens's novels. Here, Meckier argues that in Great Expectations, Dickens not only updated David Copperfield but also rewrote novels by Lever, Thackeray, Collins, Shelley, and Charlotte and Emily Brontë. He periodically revised his competitors' themes, characters, and incidents to discredit their novels as unrealistic fairy tales imbued with Cinderella motifs. Dickens darkened his fairy tale perspective by replacing Cinderella with the story of Misnar's collapsible pavilion from The Tales of the Genii (a popular, pseudo-oriental collection). The Misnar analogue supplied a corrective for the era's Cinderella complex, a warning to both Haves and Have-nots, and a basis for Dickens's tragicomic view of the world.


Jerome Meckier:
Jerome Meckier, professor of English at the University of Kentucky and past president of The Dickens Society, is the author of several books, including Hidden Rivalries in Victorian Fiction and Innocent Abroad. Dickens's Great Expectations completes an informal trilogy.