Gothic and sensation in Great Expectations

Dickens was influenced by both these sub-genres in Great Expectations. Gothic novels he will have known from his early reading and he employed some Gothic elements in several of his novels.

From the 1850s, he was close friends with Wilkie Collins, the best-known author of sensation novels. All of Dickens' late fiction includes sensation elements:

  • Satis House is a Gothic setting, with its gloom and atmosphere of decay and ghostliness
  • Miss Havisham herself is a bizarre, Gothic figure who hovers on the borderline between sanity and madness, the living world and the realm of spirits – characteristics of both Gothic and sensation fiction
  • the plot, with its frequent reference to events that have taken place in the past, its many mysteries and puzzles about identity and its concern with the source and fate of large sums of money, includes a combination of Gothic and sensation elements.
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