Great Expectations - Themes overview

The themes of Great Expectations, showing a ball and chain representing crime and the law, silhouettes increasing in size representing growing up, and a flat cap and top hat representing social class

Themes are ideas that run all the way through a literary text. By analysing them you can understand the writer's intentions. What choices have they made? Why? What are they trying to get the reader to think and feel? Analysing themes allows you to write comprehensively about a literary text.

In Great Expectations there are many themes which could be analysed. Here are three main themes:

  • crime and the law
  • growing up
  • social class

Dickens examined these themes many times in his writing. They were important to him in his own life as well as in his books.