"Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens was set at the beginning of the 19th Century, a time in which Wordsworth was writing the first version of the "Prelude". "The Prelude" brings an important dichotomy to the fore, that of self and ‘other’, of artist and crowd; this opposition at first parallels but then completely substitutes that of city-countryside. In "Great Expectations", there is no countryside able to safeguard values and identity. Since there is no countryside opposing the city in the dichotomy, the city is left without antagonist and loses its own values and certainties.
The essay discusses the episode of "Great Expectations" in which Pip and Wemmick walk from the office in the City to Wemmick’s house in Walworth. The house appears divided and opposed to the centre and to Wemmick’s work in the City. Being defined as a castle, to Wemmick the house becomes a defensive tool against work and the crowd, a place in which he can feel himself although his identity does not seem to be free. Wemmick is a comic character, but he points to an issue regarding the city on which generations of scholars have debated about. It is a problem concerning literature as well. After Dickens, the opposition between artist and crowd remains almost untouched; it is with "Mrs Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf and with the works of some authors of the 30s that the English writer will start to leave behind this antagonism.