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Great Expectations

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Great Expectations charts the progress of Pip from childhood through often painful experiences to adulthood, as he moves from the Kent marshes to busy, commercial London, encountering a variety of extraordinary characters ranging from Magwitch, the escaped convict, to Miss Havisham, locked up with her unhappy past and living with her ward, the arrogant, beautiful Estella.

Pip must discover his true self, and his own set of values and priorities. Whether such values allow one to prosper in the complex world of early Victorian England is the major question posed by Great Expectations, one of Dickens's most fascinating, and disturbing, novels.

This edition includes the original, discarded ending, Dickens's brief working notes, and the serial instalments and chapter divisions in different editions. It also uses the definitive Clarendon text.

544 pages, Paperback

First published December 1, 1860

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About the author

Charles Dickens

15.9k books27.3k followers
Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1870) was a writer and social critic who created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the twentieth century critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories enjoy lasting popularity.

Dickens left school to work in a factory when his father was incarcerated in a debtors' prison. Despite his lack of formal education, he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children's rights, education, and other social reforms.

Dickens was regarded as the literary colossus of his age. His 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre. Oliver Twist and Great Expectations are also frequently adapted, and, like many of his novels, evoke images of early Victorian London. His 1859 novel, A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris, is his best-known work of historical fiction. Dickens's creative genius has been praised by fellow writers—from Leo Tolstoy to George Orwell and G. K. Chesterton—for its realism, comedy, prose style, unique characterisations, and social criticism. On the other hand, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth, loose writing, and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism. The term Dickensian is used to describe something that is reminiscent of Dickens and his writings, such as poor social conditions or comically repulsive characters.

On 8 June 1870, Dickens suffered another stroke at his home after a full day's work on Edwin Drood. He never regained consciousness, and the next day he died at Gad's Hill Place. Contrary to his wish to be buried at Rochester Cathedral "in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner," he was laid to rest in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. A printed epitaph circulated at the time of the funeral reads: "To the Memory of Charles Dickens (England's most popular author) who died at his residence, Higham, near Rochester, Kent, 9 June 1870, aged 58 years. He was a sympathiser with the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England's greatest writers is lost to the world." His last words were: "On the ground", in response to his sister-in-law Georgina's request that he lie down.

(from Wikipedia)

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
January 24, 2019
“There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth.”

I first read Great Expectations when I was thirteen years old. It was the first of Dickens' works that I'd read of my own volition, the only other being Oliver Twist, which we'd studied parts of in school. You know, I missed out on a lot when I was thirteen. By this, I mean that I didn't always understand the deeper meaning lying beneath the surface of my favourite classics. I favoured fast-paced and gritty stories and didn't understand the love for Austen (later cured). But there was something about Great Expectations that hit me hard on all levels and there was a deeper understanding I took from it even back then.

I should say first of all, this book makes me feel sad. Not a Lifetime movie emotionally overwrought pass-me-the-kleenex kind of sad. I have read it several times and have never once cried while reading it. But the book never fails to leave me with this hollow feeling that things could have been so different. When I was a kid, I often wished I could jump inside the TV and warn the good guys not to do something; stop something horrible from happening. This is that kind of book for me. All the not-knowing and mistaken assumptions that float between the characters in this novel is torture.

Some readers don't like Dickens. He's been called "lacking in style", as well as a bunch of other things. Well, I think he's like the Stephen King of the Victorian era. He loves his drama, his characters are well-drawn but sometimes edging towards caricatures, he has a wonderful talent for painting a vivid picture of a scene in your mind but a bunch of his books are a hundred pages too long. Whatever. I love his stories. And I love his characters.

In Great Expectations, you have the orphaned Philip "Pip" Pirrip who has spent his short life being poor and being bullied by his sister who is also his guardian. You have Joe Gargery, a kind man who also allows himself to be bullied by Pip's sister (his wife). Then you have the infamous Miss Havisham who was abandoned at the altar and now spends her days wandering around her mansion in her old wedding dress, hating men and raising the young Estella to be just like her.

“You are in every line I have ever read.”

At its heart, this is a book about someone who is given an opportunity to have all their dreams come true, to be better than they ever thought they could be, to be loved by someone who they never thought would look at them. We all yearn for something badly at times. Imagine having the chance to get exactly what you always wanted. Imagine becoming better and higher than you knew was possible. Imagine having all of that and then realizing that perhaps the most important thing you ever had got left behind.

Pip was always my favourite Dickens protagonist because he wants so much and I sympathise with him. I can understand why he does what he does and why he wants what he wants. But the saddest thing is that ambition can make you lose sight of other important things and Pip has a lot of hard lessons to learn along the way. It's a book that was extremely relevant to the times when social class was of utmost importance in Britain. Essentially, the book deconstructs what it means to be a "gentlemen" and makes a not-so-subtle criticism of a class-based society.

Who are the real gentlemen? The top hat wearing men of London with all their fine china and ceremony? Pip, who gets a chance to become one of them? Or Joe Gargery, the rough-talking blacksmith who even years later tells Pip: "you and me was ever friends"?

There is a powerful lesson in here and I love it. Even after all these years.

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Profile Image for Michael Kneeland.
42 reviews227 followers
July 14, 2008
My students (and some of my friends) can't ever figure out why I love this novel so much. I explain how the characters are thoroughly original and yet timeless, how the symbolism is rich and tasty, and how the narrative itself is juicy and chock-full of complexity, but they just shake their heads at me in utter amazement and say, "What's wrong with you, dude?"

What's wrong, indeed.

I give them ten or fifteen years. Perhaps they'll have to read it again in college, or maybe they'll just try reading it again as an adult to see if they can try to figure out why it's such a "classic," but after some time has passed from their initial encounter with the novel, they will find that I am not so crazy after all and that the book is in fact one of the best examples--if not the best example--of the novel. This happens to me all the time: I will re-read something I was forced to read in middle school and high school, remembering how much I hated it then, and will find that I actually love it now, as an adult. Sure, those "classics" may have taught me something about literary analysis, symbolic patterns, and the like, but I couldn't appreciate it for its complexity until I was older. I guess the rule of wine appreciation applies here, too: good taste only comes after much patience and experience.


Perhaps the thing I love best about this novel is the cast of characters--their names as well as their personalities. Ms. Havisham is one of my favorite characters to ever appear in all of the literature I have read. There is so much density and complexion to her character that I could literally make an entire career out of writing discourses on her characterization. She has even invaded the way I think about the world and the people I have met: I have, for instance, started referring to those instances where parents try to achieve success through their children "the Havisham effect" (unfortunately, you see this all too often in the world of teaching). Havisham's name is another exasperatingly fantastic aspect of her character: like the majority of Dickens' characters, you pretty much know what you're in for when you first read her name--she is full of lies, tricks, and deceits (or "sham"s). You don't get this sort of characterization much of anywhere else in the literary scene.

Another reason I love this novel so much is its plotting. Remember, Dickens was writing in a serialized format so he needed to keep his readers hooked so that they'd want to buy the next issue of his periodical, All the Year Round, in order to see what happens next. Thus, the plot of Great Expectations is winding, unpredictable, and quite shocking at points. Certainly, in terms of heavy action--well, what our youngsters these days would call action, fighting and big explosions and what-not--there is none, or very little at most, but that's not the thing to be looking for. Figure out the characters first, and then, once you've gotten to know and even care for them (or hate them), you will be hooked on the plot because you will want to know what happens to these people who you've invested so much feeling into. This is, of course, true of all novels, but it's what I tell my students when they read Great Expectations for the first time, and by gum, it's helped more than a few of them get through the novel successfully.

So, if you read Great Expectations in middle school, high school, or college, but haven't picked it up since, I urge you to do so. With a more patient and experienced set of eyes, you just might surprise yourself.
Profile Image for emma.
1,823 reviews48.7k followers
June 29, 2022
welcome to...GREAT EXPECTA(JUNE)S.

that was so bad. i need to write fast - i'm expecting a SWAT team to enter my cute apartment via my lovely floor-to-ceiling windows and put me out of my misery at any moment. you can't murder the art of punning like that and expect to escape with your life.

in the meantime. welcome back to the series in which me and elle read a long classic over the course of the month, because we are otherwise too cowardly!

this book in particular has been haunting me. maybe if my expectations were so great i'd have actually read it, instead of having it on my tbr for over 5 years!! ha ha...ha...ha.

oh lord.

we're also reading this for our book club -
join the discussion here
follow on instagram here

let's get into it.

no wonder this lil orphan's existence is so miserable. his name is philip pirrip. that's a recipe for disaster if i've ever heard one.

i have been putting this book off for approx 10 years (my mom bought me a copy, for some reason, in my youth), but it is immediately more readable than i thought.

not exactly surprising. this is coming from the girl who bought little house on the prairie at the age of 8 at the scholastic book fair, took one look at the old timey prose, and chucked it in the (literal) back of my closet with a post-it note saying DON'T READ UNTIL YOU'RE 10.

charles dickens is funnier than 90% of netflix's most recent standup releases. and i like standup.

IT'S THE ROMAN NOSES PASSAGE THAT THE DAD READS TO DOMHNALL GLEESON IN ABOUT TIME!!!!!!!!! suddenly this whole thing is a mental bill nighy audiobook for me. what a treat.

incredibly small section today. it's like charles dickens knew that centuries in the future, a very hungover girl would be attempting the fifth and sixth chapters, and took mercy.

miss havisham AND estella!! even i have heard of these heavy hitters. this is a star-studded book.
"Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it." damn good line.

DAY 5: CHAPTERS 9 & 10
i just realized that roughly 70% of the preconceived notions i had about this book are actually about oliver twist. oops.

DAY 6: CHAPTERS 11 & 12
"I saw speckle-legged spiders with blotchy bodies running home to it, and running out from it, as if some circumstances of the greatest public importance had just transpired in the spider community." this reads like a viral tweet.

so many wasted years not reading this book because i thought the language would be intimidating, when actually it's 99% memes.

DAY 7: CHAPTERS 13 & 14
estella is my favorite character, easy. i am so obsessed with mean girls. i've told this story before, but i have an ex-boyfriend who was once in a fight with one of his roommates, who was very rude, and i was talking him up and on his side every moment up to and including when i met her, and then forever after i wanted her to like me more than anything.

i would forsake pip, joe, the neighborly gang, the sister, and the convicts for estella in a heartbeat. not havisham, though. i love that creepy ghoul too.

DAY 8: CHAPTERS 15 & 16
there is nothing a classic author likes more than the idea of Being Hit Hard On The Head Changing Your Personality. it seems like a huge indulgence to them specifically that there's any scientific backing to that at all.

DAY 9: CHAPTERS 17 & 18
title mention title mention title mention!!!
how fun. go pip.

DAY 10: CHAPTERS 19 & 20
as long as there have been books there's been this annoying Kid Starts Out With Nothing Then Gets Something And Immediately Sucks character arc.

DAY 11: CHAPTERS 21 & 22
return of the pale young gentleman!!! love a surprise reappearance from a fan favorite.

i typically HATE cannot STAND and generally ABHOR flashbacks and backstories of any kind, but dickens is so funny and i like these characters so much that i'm having a damn blast. what is going on!!

DAY 12: CHAPTERS 23 & 24
really feeling like those who read austen for the humor would really like this book.........

DAY 13: CHAPTERS 25 & 26
one of those I Am Not Into This Right Now But Maybe It's Not You It's Me Or Something days.

DAY 14: CHAPTERS 27 & 28
if you told me before today that a paragraph mainly about being a blacksmith would be enough to bring a tear to my eye i would have laughed in your damn face. but i am a joe loyalist to the core.

unless he's ever pitted against estella.

DAY 15: CHAPTERS 29 & 30
“Oh! I have a heart to be stabbed in or shot in, I have no doubt,” said Estella, “and of course if it ceased to beat I should cease to be. But you know what I mean. I have no softness there, no—sympathy—sentiment—nonsense.”

i just love her more and more every time we encounter her.

DAY 16: CHAPTERS 31 & 32
single most entertaining-sounding production of hamlet of all time appears to be depicted in these pages.
but then, i'm no hamlet stan. too much whining.

DAY 17: CHAPTERS 33 & 34
when charles dickens said “You speak of yourself as if you were some one else.” and sally rooney said “Marianne had the sense that her real life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn't know if she would ever find out where it was or become part of it.”
never doubt my ability to tie absolutely everything in to sally.

DAY 18: CHAPTERS 35 & 36
“(breathing sherry and crumbs)” has gotta be one of the great parenthetical insertions.

DAY 19: CHAPTERS 37 & 38
this is boring today. and the chapters are long. i'm whiny about it.
oof, AND i have to deal with “Estella was set to wreak Miss Havisham’s revenge on men, and that she was not to be given to me until she had gratified it”??? GIVEN???
not our finest day.
it was fun to see estella yelling at havisham, though.

DAY 20: CHAPTERS 39 & 40
you have to love this book for its dedication to hosting the Return of a Fan Favorite. basically the entire thing is about introducing a character, sending him away, cracking jokes for 80 pages, and bringing him on back.
AND WHAT A RETURN IT IS! holy moley.
my first thought, of COURSE, is how this impacts estella. and the answer: to me, rad.
and on to part 3!

DAY 21: CHAPTERS 41 & 42
i guess the phrase "beggars can't be choosers" had not yet originated when this was published. in 100 bce or whatever.

DAY 22: CHAPTERS 43 & 44
i am so thoroughly Team Pip Does Not Automatically Deserve Estella Just Because He Thought He Was Entitled, And Also No One Does that i keep forgetting about the no one does part and just getting mad at pip.
he did make a good ass speech to her, though. that i can admit.

DAY 23: CHAPTERS 45 & 46
today in another book i'm reading i learned that charles dickens once took a 7 hour walk through london overnight because he got in a fight with his wife, in an instance i am forced to call "the first ever hot girl walk."
i can't help thinking i would have picked this up ages ago had i only known that dickens was a drama queen.

DAY 24: CHAPTERS 47 & 48
the world is just goddamn awful today so i guess my "escapist reading" will be about when everyone was a weird little gutter rat in england.
i'm going to be honest. i have almost no clue what's going on here.
as jpuzzle in the book club said, WHY DOES EVERYONE KNOW EACH OTHER.

DAY 25: CHAPTERS 49 & 50
finding ms havisham super relatable. i too find the only way to respond to seeing the consequences of my own actions is by setting myself on fire.

DAY 26: CHAPTERS 51 & 52
took a day off right at crunch time and baby, i will not be catching up today!! pray for short chapters for me, my brethren.
and so it shall be!!!

DAY 27: CHAPTERS 53 & 54
also will not be catching up today. i have forgotten how to read. (it went away with my bodily autonomy and human rights! buh dum ch.)
did charles dickens have a ration on how many characters he could use? everyone is pulling triple duty at this point.
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” i have that quote framed!
anyway, our short-chapter-day luck has run out, my friends.

DAY 28: CHAPTERS 55 & 56
ok. have to catch up today. running out of time.
the drama of it all!!

DAY 29: CHAPTERS 57, 58, & 59
honestly rude for chapters to be long on a catch-up day. but i am strong and full of life and i will finish!!!
ok...this is everything. the real love stories here are pip and joe and pip and herbert. brings a tear to mine eye. last chapter time!
bye, estella!! all my love!

this whole thing was suuuuch a pleasant surprise: more readable, more amusing, and more interesting than i thought. i got bogged down in the middle (and i preferred the alternate / sadder / more realistic ending, when i sought it out) but in the end, cool fun yay!
rating: somewhere between 3.5 and 4
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
September 16, 2018
”I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes. I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman, and that the figure upon which it now hung loose had shrunk to skin and bone.”

 photo MissHavisham_zps3f113031.jpg
How do you do Miss Havisham? She makes many lists of the twenty greatest characters from Dicken’s novels.

I hadn’t ever met Miss Havisham officially, although I knew of her. I have heard of her circumstances, discussed her in English Literature classes, and even referenced her in a paper. She is a tragic figure tinged with true insanity; and yet, someone in complete control of her faculties when it comes to talking about HER money. She was jilted at the altar and like a figure from mythology she is suspended in time. She wears her tattered wedding dress every day and sits among the decaying ruins of her wedding feast.

We meet our hero Pip when in an act of charity born more of fear than goodwill he provides assistance to a self-liberated convict named Abel Magwitch. It was a rather imprudent thing to do similar to one of us picking up a hitchhiker in an orange jumpsuit just after passing a sign that says Hitchhikers in this area may be escaped inmates. Little does he know, but this act of kindness will have a long term impact on his life.

 photo PipandtheConvict_zps0e2b8e6b.jpg
Pip and the Convict.

Pip is being raised by his sister, an unhappy woman who expresses her misery with harsh words and vigorous smacks. ”Tickler was a wax-ended piece of cane, worn smooth by collision with my tickled frame.” She also browbeats her burly blacksmith husband Joe into submission. Mr Pumblechook, Joe’s Uncle, is always praising the sister for doing her proper duty by Pip. "Boy, be forever grateful to all friends, but especially unto them which brought you up by hand!” In other words she didn’t spare the rod or the child. Mr. Pumblechook is one of those annoying people who is always trying to gain credit for anyone’s good fortune. He intimates that he was the puppet master pulling the strings that allowed that good fortune to find a proper home. Later when Pip finds himself elevated to gentleman’s status Pumblechook is quick to try and garner credit for brokering the deal.

Things become interesting for Pip when is asked to be a play companion of Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter Estella. The girl is being trained to be the architect of Miss Havisham’s revenge...on all men. She is the brutal combination of spoiled, beautiful, and heartless. She wants Pip to fall in love with her to provide a training ground for exactly how to keep a man in love with her and at the same time treat him with the proper amount of disdain.

As Pip becomes more ensnared in Estella’s beauty Miss Havisham is spurring him on.

"Love her, love her, love her! If she favors you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces,— and as it gets older and stronger it will tear deeper,— love her, love her, love her!" Never had I seen such passionate.

 photo EstellaandPip_zps3d5f175e.jpg
Estella, the weapon of man’s destruction, walking with Pip.

Pip is fully aware of the dangers of falling in love with Estella, but it is almost impossible to control the heart when it begins to beat faster. ”Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.” His hopes, almost completely dashed that he will ever have a legitimate opportunity to woo Estella properly are buoyed by the knowledge of a benefactor willing to finance his rise to gentleman status. No chance suddenly becomes a slim chance.

Pip is not to know where these great expectations are coming from, but he assumes it is Miss Havisham as part of her demented plans for exacting revenge by using Estella to break his heart. He is willing to be the patsy for her plans because some part of him believes he can turn the tide of Estella’s heart if he can find one beating in her chest.

"You must know," said Estella, condescending to me as a brilliant and beautiful woman might, "that I have no heart,— if that has anything to do with my memory."

The book is of course filled with Dickensonian descriptions of the bleaker side of Victorian society.

”We entered this haven through a wicket-gate, and were disgorged by an introductory passage into a melancholy little square that looked to me like a flat burying-ground. I thought it had the most dismal trees in it, and the most dismal sparrows, and the most dismal cats, and the most dismal houses ( in number half a dozen or so), that I had ever seen.”

As I was reading the book it felt like the plot suddenly sped up from a leisurely world building pace that permeates most Dickens novels to the final laps of an Indy 500 race. I was not surprised to discover that Dickens had intended this novel to be twice as long, but due to contractual obligations with the serialization of the novel Dickens found himself in a quandary. He had a much larger story percolating in his head, but simply out of room to print it. Nothing drives a reader crazier than knowing that this larger concept was realized, but never committed to paper.

 photo DickensDream_zpsa4b21c56.jpg
The rest of Great Expectations exists only in the lost dreams of Dickens.

Pip is a willing victim; and therefore, not a victim because he fully realized that Miss Havisham was barking mad, and that Estella had been brainwashed into being a sword of vengeance. He was willing to risk having his heart wrenched from his body and dashed into the sea for a chance that Estella would recognize that happiness could be obtained if she would only forsake her training.

Pip like most young men of means spent more than his stipend allowed and as debts mount he is more and more anxious to learn of his benefactor’s intentions. It will not be what he expects and provides a nice twist to the novel. There are blackguards, adventures, near death experiences, swindlers, agitations both real and imagined, and descriptions that make the reader savor the immersion in the black soot and blacker hearts of Victorian society. Better late than never, but I now have more than a nodding acquaintance with Miss Havisham, Pip, and the supporting cast. They will continue to live in my imagination for the rest of my life.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
December 26, 2017
"Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day."

That is such a quote. If there was ever a novel that shows us the dangers of false perceptions then it’s Great Expectations . Pip is such a fool; he constantly misjudges those around him, and he constantly misjudges his own worth. This has lead him down a road of misery because the person who held the highest expectations for Pip was Pip himself. But, in spite of this, Pip does learn the error of his ways and becomes a much better person, though not before hurting those that have the most loyalty to him.

The corrupting power of money is strong through this novel


The money Pip received clouds his vison completely. He, in his innocence, longed to be a gentleman, but when he has the chance he forgets everything thing he is. In his self-imposed aggrandisement he can only deduce that his money came from a source of respectability; his limited capacity has determined that only he, a gentleman, could receive money from a worthy source. But, what he perceives as respectable is the problem. Indeed, Dickens contrasts societies’ gentleman (created through social station) with the true gentleman of the age who may, or may not, have any money. Pip has falsely perceived that to be a gentleman one must have money, and must have the social graces that comes with it. However, this is far from the truth as Pip later learns. He thinks Joe is backward and ungentlemanly, but Joe, in reality, is more of a gentle man than Pip could ever be.

In this, he has forgotten his routes and his honest, if somewhat rough, upbringing. He has been tainted by money and the rise in class that came with it. I think if he never received the allowance he would have eventually been happy at the forge. He may have sulked for a year or two, but, ultimately, he would have got over himself as he does eventually do. The money gave him hope; it gave him a route in which he could seek his Estella. Without the money he would have realised she was, in fact, unobtainable regardless of his class; he would have moved on and got on with his life. But, that wouldn’t have made for a very interesting novel.

Pip’s journey of morale regeneration is the key

Indeed, Pip wouldn’t have learnt a thing. Through the correcting of his perceptions he learns the value of loyalty and simple human kindness. This changes him and he is, essentially, a much better person for it. He learns the errors of his ways, and how shameful and condescending his behaviour has been to those that hold him most dear, namely Joe. You can feel the pain in his narration as he tells the last parts of his story; it becomes clear that Pip could never forgive himself for his folly. He wishes forgiveness from those that love him that’s why he forgives Havisham, but I don’t think he fully deserves it. He is repentant, but the damage is done.

Heaven knows we never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of the earth, overlaying our hard hearts.


Pip’s morale regeneration was a necessary facet for the brilliance of this work. It creates an ending that, for me, was perfect. It is not the ending that Pip thought he would get, but it is the ending this novel deserved. Pip’s morale regeneration and revelations are just not enough to offset the past. He has grown but, like Havisham, cannot turn back the clocks. The ending Joe receives signifies this; he, as one of the only true gentleman of the novel, receives his overdue happiness. Whereas Pip is destined to spend the rest of his life in a state of perpetual loneliness, he, most certainly, learnt his lesson the hard way.

"Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape.

Anguish is in equal measures


Pip’s story though, ultimately, sad is not the most woe begotten of the character stories in this novel. Abel Magwitch and Miss Havisham are two incredibly miserable individuals because life has really got them down. Havisham is the caricature of the spinster; she is stuck in the past (quarter to nine to be precise) and is unable to move on; she has turned bitter and yellow; she has imposed herself to perpetual agony. Despite her harshness and venom there is a flicker of light within her soul that Pip unleashes. For me, she is the most memorable, and well written, character in this novel because her story transcends that of Pip’s.

And then there is the lovable Abel Magwitch. The poor man had been used and cheated; he had been bargained away and sacrificed. He has been shown no kindness in his life and when he meets a young Pip in the marshes he is touched by the small measure of friendship the boy offers him. His response: to repay that debt, with what he believes to be kindness, in turn. These characters are incredibly memorable and harbour two tragic and redemptive stories. But, in order to display their anguish to the world and society, they both use another to exact their revenge. Havisham uses Estella to break the hearts of men, like hers was once broken; Magwitch creates his “own” gentleman as a revenge to the world of gentleman that betrayed him.


I love Great Expectations. It is more than just a story of love; it is a strong story about the power of loyalty and forgiveness; it is a story about falsehoods and misperceptions; it is a story of woe and deeply felt sadness: it is about how the folly of youth can alter your life for ever. It is an extraordinary novel. I've now read it three times, and I know I'm not finished with yet.
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
797 reviews3,640 followers
January 31, 2023
Not as good as Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist, a tiny bit better than A tale of two cities, but to its core just Oliver Twist 2.0 with a first person narrator, and a perfect reason for why nobody likes serialized short stories condensed to weak novels.

I mentioned some of the weaknesses of Dickens writing in my review of A tale of two cities
and the reason why it´s not as bad as it because he went back to a topic he could describe with more credibility because of the real life experiences he had made, and possibly people wanted more Oliver Twist and he knew he could sell more or just because he was nostalgic while getting old.

Dickens is a prime example of a not ingenious author motivated to produce new content due to market forces
and was unable to reach the level of the incredible quality and timelessness of Austen, London, Twain, etc.

It´s quite kind of sad that his great, timeless, and important first works that point the finger at many societal problems are indirectly reduced by readers who choose to pick this work or Tale of two cities first instead of reading his masterpieces. I would completely understand if one wouldn´t want to try a second book after this one.

From all UK/US classics I´ve read, these two novels are by far the weakest. I do often think that some classics, many of them I won´t be able or willing to read, weren´t really good, subtle, or ingenious, but just the first on the market and had no competition, as simple and unromantic that might sound. I mean, reading outside stupid indoctrination BS was long time deemed a dangerous, stupid women activity real men would never do and as the wasted centuries were over and humankind awoke out of the terrible nightmare of the unnecessary Middle Ages, the first average writers had the easy stand of being the only person writing in a genre or even just one of 5 to 10 authors sold at all. That´s what I call a monopoly,

And the authors were idealized and glorified, mixed up with patriotism and national pride, made superstars, it was the first wave of endless Bieber fever for all ages.

Both factors contributed to a romanticized idealization of works that are just your average reading if nothing else is out there, but nothing one would read with flow and enthusiasm, more with a meh attitude instead of watching TV, social interactions, or other wastes of lifetime.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.7k followers
August 22, 2021
(Book 876 From 1001 Books) - Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

The novel was first published as a serial in Dickens's weekly periodical All the Year Round, from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. In October 1861, Chapman and Hall published the novel in three volumes.

On Christmas Eve, around 1812, Pip, an orphan who is about seven years old, encounters an escaped convict in the village churchyard, while visiting the graves of his parents and siblings.

Pip now lives with his abusive elder sister and her kind husband Joe Gargery, a blacksmith. The convict scares Pip into stealing food and a file. Early on Christmas morning Pip returns with the file, a pie and brandy.

During Christmas Dinner that evening, at the moment Pip's theft is about to be discovered, soldiers arrive and ask Joe to repair some shackles. Joe and Pip accompany them as they recapture the convict who is fighting with another escaped convict.

The first convict confesses to stealing food from the smithy. A year or two later, Miss Havisham, a wealthy spinster who still wears her old wedding dress and lives as a recluse in the dilapidated Satis House, asks Mr Pumblechook, a relation of the Gargery's, to find a boy to visit her.

Pip visits Miss Havisham and falls in love with her adopted daughter Estella. Estella remains aloof and hostile to Pip, which Miss Havisham encourages. Pip visits Miss Havisham regularly, until he is old enough to learn a trade.

Joe accompanies Pip for the last visit, when she gives the money for Pip to be bound as apprentice blacksmith. Joe's surly assistant, Dolge Orlick, is envious of Pip and dislikes Mrs Joe. When Pip and Joe are away from the house, Mrs Joe is brutally attacked, leaving her unable to speak or do her work. Orlick is suspected of the attack. Mrs Joe becomes kind-hearted after the attack. Pip's former schoolmate Biddy joins the household to help with her care.

Four years into Pip's apprenticeship, Mr Jaggers, a lawyer, tells him that he has been provided with money, from an anonymous benefactor, so that he can become a gentleman. Pip is to leave for London, but presuming that Miss Havisham is his benefactor, he first visits her.

Pip sets up house in London at Barnard's Inn with Herbert Pocket, the son of his tutor, Matthew Pocket, who is a cousin of Miss Havisham. Herbert and Pip have previously met at Satis Hall, where Herbert was rejected as a playmate for Estella.

He tells Pip how Miss Havisham was defrauded and deserted by her fiancé. Pip meets fellow pupils, Bentley Drummle, a brute of a man from a wealthy noble family, and Startop, who is agreeable. Jaggers disburses the money Pip needs. ...

عنوان: آرزوهای بزرگ؛ نویسنده: چارلز دیکنز؛ (علمی و فرهنگی، دوستان، افق) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1975میلادی

با ترجمه: ابراهیم یونسی، تهران، سال انتشار 1351، با ویرایش، چاپ هفتم، با شابک 9789646207486؛ سال 1391، انتشارات دوستان

ترجمه: محسن سلیمانی انتشارات افق 1387؛ این نسخه، متن چکیده و کوتاه شده

آرزوهای بزرگ را می‌توان به نوعی زندگی‌نامه خودنگاشت «دیکنز» نیز دانست، که همچون آثار دیگرش، تجربیات تلخ و شیرین وی از زندگی و مردمان را، نمایان میسازد؛ داستان «آرزوهای بزرگ»، وضعیت سیاسی اجتماعی دوران خود ایشانست، و نویسنده حقایق اجتماعی را با بیانی لطیف به تصویر کشیده است

چکیده داستان: «پیپ» هفت ساله، زندگی محقر و فروتنانه‌ ای را در کلبه‌ ای روستایی، با خواهری بدخلق و سختگیر، و شوهر خواهرش «جو گارگِری»، آهنگری پرتوان اما مهربان، و نرم‌خو، می‌گذراند؛ او که روزی برای سر زدن به قبر مادر و پدرش، به گورستان می‌رود، ناگهانی با یک زندانی فراری محکوم به اعمال شاقه، به نام «آبل مگویچ»، روبرو می‌شود؛ آن زندانی، داستانی ترسناک، برای کودک سر هم می‌کند، تا او نانی برای رفع گرسنگی، و سوهانی برای رهایی خویش، از غل و زنجیری که به دست و پایش بسته‌ است، برایش بیاورد؛ «پیپ» هم از روی ناچاری و هم از دل‌رحمی، او را یاری می‌کند

زمانی از آن رویداد می‌گذرد، و «پیپ» کوچک، توسط زنی میانسال و ثروتمند، موسوم به «میس هاویشام (یکی از استادانه‌ ترین شخصیت‌های آفریده شده توسط دیکنز)» اجیر می‌شود، تا گهگاه برای همنشینی، و سرگرم‌ نمودنش، پیش او برود؛ «هاویشام» که در گذشته‌ ای دور، و به هنگام عروسی، معشوقش او را بیرحمانه ترک گفته، از آن زمان، به زنی دلسرد، و انتقام‌جو، بدل گشته‌ است؛ او «اِستِلا»، دخترکی زیبا، اما گستاخ و مغرور را، به فرزندی پذیرفته است، تا به او بیاموزد، که چگونه مردان را به بازی گرفته، و بدانسان انتقام خویش را، توسط او، از مردان بستاند؛ «پیپ» کوچک در آن خانه، به «استلا» دل می‌بندد، و تحت تأثیر توهین‌ها، و آزارهای دخترک، نخستین آرزوهایش، مبنی بر ترک زندگی محقر، و روستایی، و زیستن چون نجیب‌ زادگان، در او نقش می‌بندد؛ «پیپ»، سال‌ها نزد «جو گارگِری» شاگردی می‌کند، تا به عنوان یک آهنگر، امرار معاش نماید، اما رویدادی دیگر زندگی او را دگرگون می‌کند؛

حقوقدانی در «لندن»، به نام «جَگرز»، به او خبر می‌دهد، که یک ولینعمت ناشناس، هزینه ی تعلیم و تربیت او را، برای رفتن به «لندن»، و آموختن فرهنگ افراد متشخص، پذیرفته، و پس از آن، ثروت کلانی به او خواهد رسید؛ به این ترتیب، قهرمان نخست داستان، روستا و شوهر خواهر دوست‌ داشتنی خود را، ترک می‌کند، تا به آرزوهای بزرگ خویش، که یافتن تشخص، و لیاقت، برای دستیابی به «استلا» است، برسد

او در دوره ی زندگی در «لندن»، بسیاری از آداب و رسوم زندگی شهری، همچون طرز رفتار، لباس پوشیدن، و مشارکت در انجمن اشخاص فرهیخته، و با فرهنگ را، می‌آموزد، و «استلای» محبوبش نیز، که اکنون مردان بسیاری خواهان او هستند، با تجاربی مشابه، دست و پنجه نرم می‌کند؛ «پیپ» این‌بار به «استلا» اظهار عشق می‌کند، ولی «استلا» به او می‌گوید، که لیاقت عشق «پیپ» را ندارد، و به «بنتلی درامل»، مردی پست‌ فطرت، دل‌بسته‌ است؛ «پیپ» که همیشه خانم «هاویشام» را، ولینعمت مرموز خود می‌پنداشته، در پایان، به این موضوع پی می‌برد، که ولینعمتش «مگویچ»، همان زندانی فراری ست، که در کودکی یاریش داده بود؛

او همچنین درمی‌یابد، که «مگویچ» پدر «استلا» است؛ اما زمانی این راز برملا می‌شود، که «مگویچ» طی یک درگیری دستگیر، و زخمی شده، و در بستر مرگ افتاده، و تمام اموالش توسط دولت ضبط شده‌ است؛ از طرفی «استلا» نیز، با «درامل» ازدواج کرده، و بدرفتاریهای بسیاری، از او دیده‌ است؛ «پیپ» که به هیچ‌یک از آرزوهای خود نرسیده، به کلبه ی محقر روستایی خود، پیش «جو» بازمی‌گردد؛ هرچند «دیکنز» تصمیم داشت، تا «پیپ» را در رسیدن به «استلا» عاقبت ناکام بگذارد، و داستان را به صورتی غم‌ انگیز به پایان برساند، اما به توصیه ی دیگران، پایان آنرا با درس گرفتن «استلا»، از شکستهای زندگی، و بازگشتش به نزد «پیپ»، تغییر می‌دهد، تا به مذاق خوانشگران آن زمان خوش بیاید

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 21/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 30/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,260 reviews5,383 followers
March 17, 2021
هل سنكون سعداء عندما تتحقق امالنا العريضة؟؟سؤال مرعب قد يدور في أذهان المتفلسفين منا..Screenshot-2018-11-20-14-30-22-1
طلاب مدارس اللغات يعلمون ان هناك 4تعاونوا على تعذيبهم..شكسبير..والأختين برونتي..و تشارلز ديكنز

و لكن تظل لامال عريضة مكانا في عقلى و قلبي ..فمن خلالها تعرفت على أسلوب النقد البريطاني المنظم..وأيضا تعرفت على جزء كبير من حياة تشارلز ديكنز. .. فهو مثل البطل فيليب بيريب. عرف الفقر طويلا في طفولته بسبب سجن والده

مع فيليب عرفت مشاعر اليتم والفقر بدون مبالغة
و لم يحرمنا من الأكشن..فنجد بيب يقابل مجرما هاربا..و يساعده مرغما..يقع في حب صبية مثله في سن 12 و لكنها تحتقره لفقره..تماما مثلما فعلت ماريا بندل بديكنز .تتغير حياته بفضل راعي مجهول ينفق على تعليمه و يوظفه..فيصيبه الغرور ..و يتعالى على من ربوه..ثم تتحطم اماله عندما يعلم من هو راعيه

..لتتوالى الاحد��ث..التي تؤكد انه مهما فعلنا ..فسعادتنا و شقاؤنا بايدى الاخرين .للاسف

لا تخلو من الرعب بسبب تلك الانسة الابدية ..ميس هافيشام..التى لم تخلع 👰فستان الزفاف 25عام..وتحيا بين الاطلال المتعفنة لعرس لم يتم
من اجمل روايات الخروج من سن الصبا للنضج..
و من اجمل الروليات عن النساء عندما تحول نفسها الى سلعة لها ثمن و تاريخ صلاحية

لا يعيبها سوى تطويل و اسهاب في المشاعر كان مطلوبا في هذا العصر..لان ديكنز كان هو المسلسلات..فرواياته كانت تباع اسبوعيا في كتيبات و كانوا ينتظرون الحلقات الأخيرة منها على أرصفة الميناء!!و صار ديكنز أكثر الرواءيين ثراءا ..
وحقق اماله العريضة..و لكن هل صار سعيدا؟

الريفيو رقم مائة لى على الموقع..عن رواية تعلمت منها.. و جعلتني افكر في قضايا ناضجة..و حببتني في القراءة بالإنجليزية بأسلوبه البسيط و لغته السلسة
Profile Image for oyshik.
212 reviews666 followers
February 4, 2021
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

An orphan protagonist named Pip tells us about fortune and misfortune from his childhood. The protagonist, from his point of view, presents some unforgettable characters' display. And the story is quite gripping with the theme like- ambition, guilt and redemption, uncertainty and deceit. However, it was not an easy read for me. It is a kind of wordy book and relatively hard to grasp the story, as other Dicken's books are. Still, the concept of the story is influential and pleasant.
Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape.

Pleasant story.
Profile Image for Chicklet.
100 reviews8 followers
August 20, 2007
Boring, dull, lifeless, and flat. This is so drawn out and boring I kept having to remind myself what the plot was.
Best to get someone else to sum up the story rather than undergo the torture of reading it.
Profile Image for Matt.
919 reviews28.3k followers
April 26, 2016
Admittedly, I can be a bit dismissive of the classics. By which I mean that many of my reviews resemble a drive-by shooting. This annoys some people, if measured by the responses I’m still getting to my torching of Moby Dick.

Even though I should expect some blowback, I still get a little defensive. I mean, no one wants to be called a “horrendous” person just because he or she didn’t like an overlong, self-indulgent, self-important “epic” about a douche-y peg leg and a stupid whale.

I’m no philistine. I console myself with the belief that I have relatively decent taste. For instance, I don’t listen to Nickelback; I read the New Yorker; and I haven’t seen an Adam Sandler film in theaters since Punch-Drunk Love. Hating Melville does not make me a backwater provincial, drunk on Boone’s Farm, Ken Follett novels, and the cinema of Rob Schneider.

Indeed, I have two principled reasons for not liking many certified classics. Strike that. I have one paranoid reason, and one semi-principled reason.

The paranoid first.

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to read so many so-called classics? From the endless torments of Dostoyevsky to the prodigious length of Tolstoy to the impenetrability or weirdness of Joyce, Faulkner or Pynchon, the world’s great novels seem needlessly excruciating.

I think it’s a conspiracy. A conspiracy of English majors and literature majors and critics all over the globe. These individuals form an elitist guild; like all guilds and licensing bodies, their goal is to erect barriers to entry. In this case, the barriers to entry are Finnegan’s Wake and In Search of Lost Time. This snooty establishment has elevated the most dense, inscrutable works to exalted status, ensuring that the lower classes stay where they belong: in the checkout aisle with Weekly World News and Op Center novels.

Isn’t it possible that the only reasons the classics are classic is because “they” tell us they’re classic? What if they are wrong? More frightening, what if I’m right? Isn’t it possible that all the “greatest” novels in history actually suck? Am I the only one who thinks it possible that true greatness lies within Twilight? I am? Okay, moving on.

My principled objection to various classic novels is that I love reading, and have loved to read from an early age (I also loved to complain from an early age). To that end, classics are the worst thing to ever happen to literature, with the exception of Dan Brown. Every drug dealer and fast-food marketer knows that you have to hook kids early in life. Forcing students to consume classics too soon is akin to the neighborhood dope peddler handing out asparagus and raw spinach. The problem is worst in high schools, where English teachers seem intent on strangling any nascent literary enjoyment in the crib. At a fragile time in a young person’s life, a heaping dose of Homer (not Simpson) can be enough to break a reading habit for life.

At least, that was my experience. I first came across Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations when it was assigned my freshman year of high school. It was a confusing time, caught between lingering childhood (I still had toys in my room) and emerging adulthood (by the end of the year I’d get my drivers’ license). Even though I’d been a voracious reader, it had always been on my own terms. When my teacher tried to shove Dickens down my throat, I started to lose interest in the written word, and gain interest in the girls on the cheerleading chess team.

Thankfully, I regained my joy of reading, but it wasn’t until I graduated from law school. At that time, I decided to go back and read all the stuff that was assigned in high school, that I’d either skimmed over or ignored completely. Great Expectations was one of the first classics to which I returned. Returned with a shudder, I might add.

First off, it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. Heck, I liked it even. So there. Save your hate mail. I do not come here to condemn Dickens, merely to damn him with faint praise.

In many ways, Great Expectations is prototypical Dickens: it is big and sprawling; it is told in the first person by a narrator who often seems resoundingly dull; it is peopled with over-eccentric supporting characters with unlikely names; and its labyrinthine structure and unspooling digressions defy ordinary plot resolutions. This is not a book that is getting to a sole point; rather, it’s more the tale of a boy’s life, with few details withheld. It also limps to an unsatisfactory ending (one of two endings, actually, since Dickens couldn’t make up his mind) that brings to mind the hastily reshot finale to the Jennifer Aniston/Vince Vaughn movie, The Break-Up.

The central character, the first person narrator, is an orphan (surprise!) named Pip. He lives with his mean sister and saintly husband, Joe (the simplest named of all Dickens’ creations). This small, unhappy family (Pip’s sister is forever peeved at the burden of taking care of her younger brother) live in the marshes, vividly described by Dickens as a cold, creeping, lunar landscape, where prisoners rot in offshore prison hulks, and cannons boom to raise the drowned.

It was a rimy morning, and very damp. I had seen the damp lying on the outside of my little window, as if some goblin had been crying there all night, and using the window for a pocket-handkerchief. Now I saw the damp lying on the bare hedges and spare grass, like a coarser sort of spiders’ webs, hanging itself from twig to twig and blade to blade. On every rail and gate, wet lay clammy, and the marsh-mist was so thick that the wooden finger on the post directing people to our village – a direction which they never accepted, for they never came there – was invisible to me until I was quite close under it. Then, as I looked up at it, while it dripped, it seemed to my oppressed conscience like a phantom devoting me to the Hulks.

Pip’s conscience is oppressed because of his Christmastime meeting with an escaped convict named Magwitch. Pip helps Magwitch out of his shackles, and steals him a pie and some brandy. Later, Magwitch is recaptured, though Pip remains fearful that his role in the attempted escape will be discovered.

Later, young Pip is taken to the home of the wealthy old Miss Havisham, to play with her adopted daughter, Estella. Miss Havisham, of course, is one of Dickens’ most famous creations. She was left at the altar as a younger woman, and now whiles away her days in her crumbling wedding dress, all the clocks in her house stopped at 8:40. Miss Havisham’s sole delight seems to be in Estella’s cruel treatment of poor Pip. Nevertheless, Pip falls in love with Estella.

Eventually, Miss Havisham pays Joe for Pip’s services, and Pip returns to the marshes as a blacksmithing apprentice. Once, Pip found Joe’s profession to be honorable. Now, however, after all of Estella’s scornful jibes, Pip finds the work beneath his dignity. This begins the long period of insufferable Pip, who will constantly struggle to rise above his station, while simultaneously racking up debts and alienating the people who truly love him.

At some point, Pip is approached my Mr. Jaggers, a cunning lawyer with many clients who end up at the end of a noose (he also has a compulsive propensity towards hand-washing). Jaggers informs Pip that he has a benefactor, and that this benefactor has “great expectations” for Pip. To receive his money, Pip is told he must travel to London, become a gentleman, and retain his name. Pip does so, believing all the while that his benefactor is Miss Havisham.

If there is a spine to this book, a central narrative thread, it is Pip’s pursuit of the lovely, acidic Estella. To this end, Pip acts poorly in society, goes in hock to his creditors, and spars with Bentley Drummle for Estella’s affections. Of course, this being a Dickens novel, there is a lot more swirling about.

Everywhere you look, there are colorful satellite characters who seem all the more lively for orbiting Pip. (Though unlikeable at times, Pip is mostly dull. Mainly, I attribute this to the first-person narrative. It is easy to look out onto the world, and harder to look inward. Thus, Pip is better at dramatizing the people he meets than in understanding himself). One of the typical Dickensian eccentrics Pip encounters is John Wemmick, a clerk for Mr. Jaggers. Wemmick lives in a house modeled after a castle and has a father, “The Aged P,” who has an affinity for firing off a cannon. There is also Herbert Pocket, who becomes friends with Pip, even though their relationship begins with near-fisticuffs. Pocket comes from a huge, dysfunctional family, that Dickens describes with apparent glee.

Though Great Expectations is not as long as David Copperfield or Bleak House, it sprawls enough to cause confusion. Character lists may become necessary. Of course, Dickens hates randomness, and it is worth bearing in mind that most of the people you meet, even the secondary personages, will tie back into the main story. In Dickens’ London, everybody knows everybody else, and all are ruled by the Gods of Coincidence.

Great Expectations involves a bit of a twist. I won’t assume you know the substance of this twist, the way Pip assumes the identity of his benefactor, so I will not spoil it. (If it is possible to spoil something published in 1861).

I feel like I have a hit-and-miss relationship with Dickens’ work. Usually, I’m a fan of big, messy epics. The bigger and messier the better. However, with regards to Dickens, I’ve found that I like his shorter, more economical stories (A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol) to his bursting-at-the-seams behemoths.

I think this has something to do with payoff. Usually, when you read a novel, it moves towards some sort of climax, a set piece of action or emotional upheaval and resolution. With Dickens, though, you are moving towards a lesson. He was a great moralizer and critic, and he used his novels as a canvas on which to make his points.

Great Expectations is no exception. It is a homily directed at a Victorian England stratified by class and family background, where station was defined even more by lineage than by wealth. Against this backdrop, young Pip goes out into the world, abandons his family and faithful old Joe, makes horribly inaccurate judgments about people, and finally learns that there is no place like home.

That’s all well and good, but not much of a reward for the days or weeks you devote to Great Expectations, especially when you can learn the same thing after two hours of The Wizard of Oz.

Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
February 16, 2012
Great Expectations…were formed...were met…and were thoroughly exceeded! Over-London-by-Rail-1 v2

The votes have been tallied, all doubts have been answered and it is official and in the books ...I am a full-fledged, foaming fanboy of Sir Dickens and sporting a massive man-crush for literature’s master story-teller*.

*Quick Aside: My good friend Richard who despises “Chuckles the Dick” is no doubt having a conniption as he reads this…deep breaths, Richard, deep breaths.

After love, love, loving A Tale of Two Cities, I went into this one with, you guessed it [insert novel title] and was nervous and wary of a serious let down in my sophomore experience with Dickens. Silly me, there was zero reason for fear and this was even more enjoyable than I had hoped. Not quite as standing ovation-inducing as A Tale of Two Cities, but that was more a function of the subject matter of A Tale of Two Cities being more attractive to me.


Here Dickens tells the story of the growth and development of young Philip Pirrip (“Pip”) who begins his life as an orphan, neglected and abused, by his sister (Mrs. “Joe” Gargery). "I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born, in opposition to the dictates of reason, religion, and morality, and against the dissuading arguments of my best friends." Through a series of chance encounters, Pip rises above his disadvantaged beginnings to become a gentleman in every sense of the word. Pip’s journey is not a straight line and his strength of character and inner goodness are not unwavering, but, in the end, they shine through and he the better for it.


Dickens prose is the essence of engaging and his humor is both sharp and subtle and sends warm blasts of happy right into my cockles.
My sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, was more than twenty years older than I, and had established a great reputation with herself and the neighbors because she had brought me up “by hand.” Having at that time to find out for myself what the expression meant, and knowing her to have a hard and heavy hand, and to be much in the habit of laying it upon her husband as well as upon me, I supposed that Joe Gargery and I were both brought up by hand.
In addition to his ability to twist a phrase and infuse it with clever, dry wit, Dickens is able to brings similar skill across the entire emotional range. When he tugs on the heart-strings, he does so as a maestro plucks the violin and you will feel played and thankful for the experience.
For now my repugnance to him had all melted away, and in the hunted, wounded, shackled creature who held my hand in his, I only saw a man who had meant to be my benefactor, and who had felt affectionately, gratefully, and generously, towards me with great constancy through a series of years. I only saw in him a much better man than I had been to Joe.

We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one.
Dickens never bashes over the head with the emotional power of his prose. In fact, it is the quiet, subtle method of his delivery of the darker emotions that make them so powerful.

Okay…okay…I’ll stop on the prose. I think I’ve made my point that I love his writing.

Combine his polished, breezy verse with his seemingly endless supply of memorable characters that is his trademark and you have the makings of a true classic...which this happens to be. There are so many unique, well drawn characters in this story alone that it is constantly amazing to me that he was able to so regularly populate his novels with such a numerous supply. To name just a few, Great Expectations gives us:

- the wealthy and bitter Miss Havisham,
- the good-hearted but often weak social climbing main character Pip,
- the good-hearted criminal Magwitch,
- the truly evil and despicable Orlick and Drummle,
- the virtuous, pillar of goodness "Joe" Gargery
- the abusive, mean-spirited, never-to-be-pleased Mrs. Joe Gargery,
- the cold and unemotional Estella,
- the officious, money-grubbing Mr. Pumblechook, and
- the iconic Victorian businessman Mr. Jaggers.

It’s a veritable panoply of distinct personalities, each with their own voice and their own part to play in this wonderful depiction of life in 19th Century London.

The only criticism I have for the book is that I tend to agree with some critics that the original "sadder" ending to the story was better and more in keeping with the rest of the narrative. However, as someone who doesn't mind a happy ending, especially with characters I have come to truly care for, that is a relatively minor gripe.


P.S. A few bonus quotes that I thought were too good not to share:

Pip: “In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.”

Joe to Pip: "If you can't get to be uncommon through going straight, you'll never get to do it through going crooked."
Profile Image for Kimber Silver.
Author 1 book231 followers
December 3, 2022
Oh, the beauty and the agony tears at me as I think about this stunning story.

The characters are vivid and the settings so well written that I was transported to the graveyard alongside young Pip and his convict, fear streaking through me as it was for that small boy torn by a near-impossible decision. And I’m there with Pip and kind-hearted Joe in the forge. I can feel the fire on my skin and taste hot metal on the back of my tongue. In my mind, I hear the crackling of the decades-old crinoline of Miss Havisham’s skirts rustling against the marble floors of the mausoleum she calls home. Amid the stopping of Miss Havisham’s clock, the cool radiance that is Estella vibrates from the pages, bringing her to life.

If you haven’t read Great Expectations, I encourage you to do so. Yes, it was first published in 1861, and the syntax is more eloquent than that we’ve become accustomed to, but once this tale grabs hold, you will forget the language and year it was written and be all in with these new friends. The love, the heartbreak and the lessons still hold true today. Some choices, once made, can leave long-reaching scars on the hearts of those we never knew we touched. A good deed can ripple through time to places never imagined. The consequences of our actions must be accounted for, and there will always be outcomes we could never have anticipated.

Great Expectations is the real deal! The deliciously-satisfying prose is the whipped cream on the proverbial sundae that is Dickens. The plot and subplots (and sub-subplots) are astounding! The way he can weave this tangled web yet keep the interest of the reader while giving nothing away until the perfect moment … and BAM! He has you, and you sigh with the perfection of it all.

You’ve missed a gorgeous piece of literature if you don’t dive into this book!
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
February 21, 2018
“You are in every line I have ever read.”

Why couldn't every line in this book be this good? I took me nearly three whole months to finish it. Not because it was bad, but because it dragged and dragged and there are far more intriguing books out there than Great Expectations.

The good stuff:
An exciting cast of characters, most of them very weird, extravagant and almost to completely ridiculous. By far my favourites are Joe - because he's such a goodhearted person - and Miss Havisham - because I totally look up to her dedication to melodrama.
What also got me hooked were the huge revelations in this book. There were a few things that I did not see coming.

The bad stuff:
Too many words, too many pages. I was completely demotivated to ever finish this, which is why I made myself write a term paper about it so that I would actually pick it up again and read all of it. I worked.
Honestly, though, this book was originally published in a Victorian Periodical. Imagine watching your favourite TV Show and waiting for a new episode every week. Well, it was like that with this novel. It was published in several instalments. The readers needed to be entertained enough so that they would buy next weeks magazine copy. This also means that Charles Dickens needed to fill the pages every week so that the readers got what they paid for. And I'm afraid it also reads like that. If this novel was 200 pages shorter, I might have enjoyed it more. There was so much going on that I didn't care about, so many details that could have been omitted.

Overall a fine classic and a well-plotted story that bored me with its obsession for things unimportant. I can't wait to watch the adoption with Helena Bonham Carter, though!

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Profile Image for Maureen .
1,387 reviews7,088 followers
February 27, 2021
Another reread, loved it the first time around, loved it all over again!
Profile Image for Baba.
3,564 reviews862 followers
November 13, 2022
The supreme Dickens' tragi-comedy, the tale of Pip and his great expectations, the bitter Miss Haversham, her ward Estella and other great characters. I could not put this down, a Dickens tour-de-force, and a must-read if you intend to read only a few of his works. I gave this a Four Star 8 out of 12.

2009 read
February 26, 2018
Μ αρέσει η γεύση που σου αφήνουν κάποια βιβλία στο μυαλό.
Η μυρωδιά που πλυμμηρίζει την ψυχή και την αναστατώνει, αφήνοντας της για πάντα αναμνήσεις.
Η μελωδία που βλέπεις να παίζεται μπροστά στα μάτια σου και να σε παρασύρει σε τοπία και μέρη του κόσμου που ίσως να είναι φανταστικά, ξεχασμένα, αλλοτινής εποχής, ίσως όμως να είναι τα ίδια με αυτά που ζεις.

Μεγάλες προσδοκίες, είναι μοναδικές στιγμές που όλα τα «μακάρι» γίνονται «επιτέλους».
Πάντα θα λατρεύουμε τις μεγάλες προσδοκίες, μόνο αυτές αντιπροσωπεύουν όλες τις αμαρτίες που δεν είχαμε το θάρρος ή την ευκαιρία να κάνουμε.

Λάτρεψα αυτό το κλασικό μυθιστόρημα όπου τα πάντα παρασύρονται στο τέλος τους, όπως ακριβώς και στην ζωή μας.
Δεν καταγράφονται απλώς τα γεγονότα, δημιουργούνται και παράγονται απο το μυαλό του συγγραφέα κάτω απο συνθήκες που θεωρεί πως είναι φυσικές εξελίξεις της ανθρώπινης νόησης.
Διεισδύει στην πραγματικότητα και γράφει για όλα αυτά που είμαστε φτιαγμένοι για να ζήσουμε και τρομάζουμε όταν τα σκεφτόμαστε.
Μεγάλες προσδοκίες.....

Αυτό το βιβλίο είναι μια αξεπέραστη καλλιτεχνική δημιουργία που φανερώνει τη σαφέστερη αντίληψη και γνώση αυτού που ονομάζεται ζωή-κόσμος.
Έχει μια δύναμη παρατηρητικότητας βαθιά και λεπτομερέστατη που ορίζεται ως διαλογισμός, ως ένα έργο που ξεπερνά κάθε μορφή εξουσίας ή κοινωνικής αποσύνθεσης.
Οι μεγάλες προσδοκίες έχουν τις ρίζες τους στις κοινωνικές πραγματικότητες του συγγραφέα, μα στην ουσία η διαχρονική του ανεκτίμητη αξία είναι η παγκόσμια έκκληση ερωτημάτων που θέτει με ζητούμενο τις προσδοκίες της ανθρώπινης ψυχής.

Μέσα απο χαμένες προσδοκίες και τα κατεδαφισμένα όνειρα βρίσκεται πάντα μια άλλη χαμένη ελπίδα που ειναι ικανή να προκαλέσει επανάσταση επιθυμιών.

Συνειδησιακή πάλη, σκοτεινοί χαρακτήρες, βία, εγκληματικότητα, ποινές φυλάκισης, άνιση κοινωνική διαστρωμάτωση, ορισμός της ανθρώπινης οντότητας με βάση την μόρφωση, ορισμός εκτίμησης,τιμής και αξιοπρέπειας με βάση την καταγωγή και τον πλούτο.

Και ο έρωτας ; Ο έρωτας που δεν μαθαίνεται... γιατί απλά συμβαίνει είναι το βασικό συστατικό της ιστορίας μας. Είναι η ενοχή, η ψευδαίσθη��η, το όνειρο, η περιφρόνηση, η συγχώρεση, η κατανόηση, η λύπηση, η τρυφερότητα, είναι η πραγματική ουσία της ζωής.

Η διορατικότητα στην ανθρώπινη φύση είναι η δύναμη του έρωτα, μια ανάγκη για αγάπη και πάθος, το θέμα, ο θύτης και το θύμα των μεγάλων προσδοκιών. Η αναζήτηση της ψυχικής μεγαλοπρέπειας και καλοσύνης μέσα στα σκοτάδια των επιφανειακών εντυπώσεων και της ψεύτικης κυριαρχίας.

Ο Ντίκενς μας περνάει με την ιδιοφυή πένα του απο τη μια κατάσταση στην άλλη για να αποδείξει πως το πέρασμα αυτό ικανοποιεί επιφανειακά και αναποτελεσματικά τι�� προσδοκίες μας.
Η άρνηση του πραγματικού εαυτού μας και η απεμπόληση των δεσμών με το παρελθόν μας προκαλούν ηθική φθορά με τεράστιο συνειδησιακό αντίτιμο απενοχοποίησης.

Η διαδρομή της καρδιάς προς το όνειρο των μεγάλων προσδοκιών οδηγεί σε αδιέξοδο αν χάσεις την ουσία της ζωής, προσπαθώντας να ξεφύγεις απο τη μοίρα.

Κι όταν μοιραία αποκαλύπτεται η αλήθεια ίσως είναι αργά για μεταστροφή. Εκτιμούμε βαθιά αυτά που χάσαμε. Κατανοούμε πως τα χάσαμε επειδή δεν τα εκτιμήσαμε.


Καλή ανάγνωση
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,536 followers
May 14, 2020
How Great Expectations changed my own expectations

Great Expectations changed my life.

Up until Grade 11, I was simply an okay student. I had skipped a grade a few years earlier, and I was doing fine, but I didn’t stand out. And no wonder. I barely remember doing any homework. I didn’t feel particularly challenged by anything; like most adolescents, I was probably more interested in watching TV or appearing cool and trying to fit in than I was with marks or learning.

But something happened in Grade 11, and I think it had to do with Great Expectations. The book was assigned for English class, and we were supposed to start reading it over the Christmas break. I procrastinated. It seemed like such a chore; there was so much description in the book; I couldn’t relate to the idea of a “gentleman”; and what the hell were “victuals”? But soon enough, I was entranced by Dickens’s storytelling skills.

When we finally came to study the book in the new year, I’m sure I ended up skimming some passages. But I remember, thanks to my excellent teacher, being fully swept up in Dickens’s tale of a simple country boy’s sudden change in fortune. Suddenly, I got excited about the past. Suddenly, I got excited about school. My grades improved. The next year, I got into the “Scholarship,” or “Enriched,” English class, which offered a much heavier course load that included (!) Oliver Twist.

After that, I began reading Dickens on my own. I read Bleak House one summer. Ditto David Copperfield. I don’t know why I stopped. University, perhaps? My loss. But my lifelong love of reading probably began around this time.

Rereading this book over the past week has brought back that rush of excitement and discovery. To be clear, this wasn’t my second encounter with the material. I’ve seen many film, TV and stage adaptations of the story, and one Christmas, Santa (i.e., my book-loving mom) had left an abridged audiotape recording of the book in my stocking. Even in this format, I was enchanted again.

But there’s really nothing like experiencing the journey of Pip, Joe, Mrs. Joe, Magwitch, Miss Havisham, Estella, et al. from the start. I’ve always considered it one of my favourite novels of all time, and this rereading has reaffirmed my love for it.

So I proudly add this to my Rereading series, the rest of which can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list...

What do I remember from my first reading?
• The great opening scene in the churchyard cemetery between Pip and the convict (see illustration above). It’s truly one of the most memorable inciting events in all of literature.
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
568 reviews717 followers
February 14, 2020
I was really mad when I finished this book last night. I have to say I enjoyed this much more than the other Dickens' books I've read which is funny because someone told me it was written for kids so I should read it because I would like it better probably and I did. It just felt too long and I kind of saw the twist of who was Pip's benefactor coming but at the same time I think the way everything is told and developed is really good. I think I mostly felt it was long because I had to read slower than I would have otherwise because the writing was more complex and I wanted to make sure I was understanding what was happening and fully understanding each sentence. I think the last sentence or two of this book was really beautiful and so well written but it made me really mad to have it end that way despite the fact that it was a really good ending because it was ambiguous. I know it seems like no matter what happens with a book I complain and I think that's just my disposition as a person. Most of the characters were so unlikable though, especially Pip, so many times through out the book I wanted to throttle him. Anyway definitely the best Dickens book I've read thus far, and I would say this ones a 3.5 stars from me, it be higher but reading it felt slow and like I had to trudge through it at multiple points.

Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,228 reviews1,064 followers
November 3, 2022
Great Expectations. What a superb title this is; wonderful, in the best and truest sense of the word. It is upbeat, exciting, and full of intrigue. It quickens our pulse and gives us a little thrilling frisson. Who is it, who has these “Great Expectations”? We want to meet them. We want to share their anticipations and their pleasure. We are hooked into the story by these first two words.

Perhaps most significant of all is that it is a short, memorable title. Great Expectations is one of Charles Dickens’s latest novels, his thirteenth in fact, serialised weekly, in his newspaper “All the Year Round” in nine monthly sections between December 1860 and August 1861. It was also serialised in the US – oddly a few days before - and on the continent. Then Dickens’s publishers, Chapman and Hall, published the first edition in book form in three volumes in 1861, with five subsequent reprints, and a one-volume edition in 1862. Sadly Dickens had quarrelled with his great friend and illustrator Hablot Knight Browne, “Phiz”, so there are none of his quirky and instantly recognisable illustrations. The silver lining in this cloud is that there are a plethora of illustrations by other artists, both contemporaneous and later. They vary from the absurd, clearly mimicking Phiz’s caricatures, to increasingly ghastly ghouls, and stuffed shirt heroes. Some are darkly effective, capturing the gothic mood, but others make the reader yearn for Phiz’s perception and insightful eye.

Dickens was only to write more novel, “Our Mutual Friend”, plus an unfinished one, aptly named “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” (a mystery never to be solved, although plenty have tried).

By now Dickens was a master of his craft. He had abandoned the lengthy titles, which sometimes took up half a page and which are rarely used in full. He had also learned, wisely, that his public liked optimism. Other short titles such as “Hard Times” and “Bleak House” had preceded this one, but they reek of Victorian deprivation and hardship. They do not attract us in the same way, nor are they timeless in appeal, whereas the title Great Expectations could have been coined yesterday.

In other ways too this novel stands head and shoulders above some of the others which precede it. Dickens always had an eye to his popularity, and whereas “Bleak House” may well be his greatest novel, it is not, and has never been, his most popular. It is so weighty that it is in danger of toppling over, and many readers struggle with the complexity of it. There are several interwoven plots, and although it contains some of his finest writing, Dickens makes few concessions to those who prefer one strong thread to follow. Conversely Great Expectations has a streamlined plot which moves along at a good pace. We are mesmerised by the forceful characters, and crave desperately to unravel the mysteries. It could be argued that of Dickens’s novels, Great Expectations makes the greatest use of plot, characterisation and style, sacrificing a little of the dense maze of “Bleak House”’s annals for more urgency, a simpler story focus, and a strong sense of direction.

In Great Expectations Dickens returns to one of his favourite themes: the story of a young man, and how he grows and learns through his various experiences. It is at heart a bildungsroman, or “coming of age” story. Some of the best loved novels by Dickens follow this format, for instance, “David Copperfield”, “Nicholas Nickleby” and most notably, the hugely popular rags-to-riches story, “Oliver Twist”. Yet the difference in execution between these two is startling.

“Oliver Twist” is recognisably an early work by Dickens and has all his idiosyncratic features. It has a myriad of cameos, both comic and grotesque. It has a strong social conscience, humour, and tragedy. But it also has all the faults of a young writer fully on display. It is overful of hyperbole, with a cardboard hero who is well nigh a saint. It is overwritten. We are shocked at the social conditions, but swayed by the pathos rather than by the author’s writing skills. By the time of his autobiographical novel, “David Copperfield”, Dickens had honed his skills. In fact before embarking on Great Expectations he reread “David Copperfield”, fearing that he might unintentionally repeat himself.

With Great Expectations Dickens has reached his pinnacle. He has written a novel full of heartbreak and obsessions of various kinds, and the reader is putty in his hands. He has learned to control his expostulations; his declamatory outbursts, his overt theatricality, and therefore has written a much more gripping and persuasive novel.

This is a novel with everything you could want. There is adventure, excitement, horror and passion. There is madness and vast wealth beyond imagination, and a benefactor who is to remain mysterious until the denouement. There are vicious crimes, wife-beating and murders, duplicity and depravity, malicious cruelty, and characters crazed by love and obsession. There is humour, ridicule, absurdity - and overwhelming sadness and grief. It is, in short, a perfect Dickens novel. It is a gothic masterpiece. You will thrill to the horrors of Satis House and its half-crazed inhabitant. You will despair at the ineptitude of the hero, blinded by his passion for a young woman whose heart has been turned to stone. You will cry for the nobility of the steadfast Joe, wanting nothing for himself; only wanting to do what is right.

The central character is Pip, Philip Pirrip, plagued by his feelings of inferiority at his thick boots and coarse hands. He desires wealth and status, and for some part of the novel it looks as if he might be groomed for this. We do not have much compassion for Pip. He seems an insensitive, selfish and self-centred brat of a boy, for more than half the novel. Once destined to become a gentleman, Pip becomes increasingly arrogant and embarrassed by what he sees as his humble origins - and unforgivably casts off the man who had been his protector. We wonder how he will ever become the Dickens hero we feel he must inevitably become. For Dickens’s novels are not tragedies, although they have tragic elements among the mix. The deserving are usually rewarded in the end, and the cruel, wicked or manipulative characters usually suffer an ignominious fate. Dickens liked to please his readers; to make them feel life was as it should be. It reassured them that however messy their own lives were, things would work out alright for the heroic characters they had been reading about and championing in their newspapers, for over a year.

Is this then an exception? Do we have a “bad boy”; an anti-hero against the usual Dickens type? The answer is no. Dickens, once more, has used his skill and created a superb subtly layered novel. The novel is straightforward in its time frame, with events moving forward logically, except where there is some reported history which is usually crucial to move the story along, by one of the characters. But in among the intrigue and the action, we hear the voices of three Pips, and occasionally an omniscient narrator (and occasionally even Dickens himself, when he cannot resist giving an opinion or two, or poking fun at one of his creations).

Five voices? Surely then, it must be hard to read? And again, the answer is no. It moves seamlessly between the voices, yet they add a richness and depth. We know that Pip is to become a deserving character; an upright young man. And we know this because we see him there on the page, in every word that he narrates. We see the characters through his eyes, and we gain a full picture of them. We see the young boy’s impressions, doubts and fears; the older boy’s vanity, shallow ambitions and intolerance, and we see the older, wiser Philip Pirrip, now grown into his full name and maturity, and reporting as truthfully as he can on the vagaries of his youth.

And the story he has to tell thrills us. Dickens himself referred to it as “a grotesque tragicomic conception”. It is unbelievably grotesque and riddled with gloom, full of coincidences, with highly exaggerated vivid characters, yet we believe every word, and are compelled to keep turning the page. We soak up the darkly terrifying descriptions, and the ominous sense of place. We wonder - surely these places could not exist. Nor the characters? But yes, they could, and yes, sometimes they did.

Great Expectations begins in a churchyard where Pip’s family is buried, and where he is to have a devastating meeting with someone who strikes terror into his very soul. The churchyard is based on a desolate church in the village of Cooling, lying out among the marshes seven miles from “Gads Hill”, Dickens’s family home at that time. He describes Cooling Castle ruins and the marshes evocatively, imbuing the narrative with dark foreboding and menace. The young Pip, visiting his family’s graves, is very close to Dickens’s heart. As a young child himself, between the ages of 5 and 11, he had lived in Chatham, and this is only a couple of miles away from Cooling. In fact this is when he first admired “Gads Hill”, the house he was later to buy. These descriptions were all transcribed from memory – complete with the young child’s terror at the stark scene, the unforgiving bleak marshes, the sea, the swirling mists, wind and rain, the beacon of distant light, and the gibbet and chains.

These early scenes are very ghoulish, for instance as the stranger threatens to cut out Pip’s heart and liver, but they exemplify the morbid relish Dickens excels in. They are a perfect example of black humour, because the events are described from a child’s point of view, as he is almost petrified with fear. Even the tombstones of Pip’s siblings, the “five little stone lozenges”, is a light-hearted reference to something common enough, but really full of pathos and tragedy. Cooling churchyard actually contains not just five but thirteen child graves all together, from two families in the village who were related. Perhaps Dickens - unusually - toned this down, for fear of scepticism on the part of his readers.

Pip is brought up by his termagant of a sister, full of bitterness and self-inflicted martyrdom, knocking her husband Joe’s head against the wall or banging Pip’s head like a tambourine with her thimble. She is proud of having brought Pip up “by hand” - such a sarcastic double-edged phrase - making copious use of “the Tickler” - such a gentle name for something which was capable of inflicting a great deal of pain! The lively and caustic descriptions make us smile, although the smile may well be a rueful grimace. Joe Gargery’s forge, incidentally, where Pip lives with them both, really exists. It is located at Chalk village in Kent. Dickens and his wife Catherine had stayed there on their honeymoon in 1836.

What about the historical facts; are they accurate? The answer is mostly, yes, although some dramatic license has been taken with the timing. Convicts in Britain were not actually sent to America any more at the time of Great Expectations. It had stopped in 1776, and after then they were sent to Australia. It is estimated that 140,000 criminals were transported to Australia between 1810 and 1852 and this is 8 years before this novel was published. Transportation was abolished in 1857, but was as the novel says, for life. If a convict ever returned to Britain, they were hanged (by law, until 1834), even though the original offences were sometimes quite minor by modern standards.

Dickens was also particular as to detail. There are two exciting and dramatic river scenes in the book, one at the beginning in the marshes, and an echo of it as the novel rushes headlong along the river to its climax. Dickens wanted to ensure that his description of the course of the boat was authentic under these conditions. In order to make absolutely sure, and perhaps explore further possibilities, he hired a steamer for the day of 22nd May 1861. The route was from Blackwall to Southend. Accompanying him on board were eight or nine friends, and also three or four members of his family. They all assumed Dickens was enjoying a relaxed summer day out, as he entertained them as usual. But in truth, his mind was working overtime, keenly observing and noticing every single detail. Nothing escaped his attention, as he made a mental note of what happened on each side of the river during the course of their journey.

The vast edifice, “Satis House”, home of the decrepit and grief-stricken Miss Havisham, was based on “Restoration House” in Rochester, Kent. Charles II had stayed there on his return to England in 1660, restoring the English monarchy after Oliver Cromwell. Dickens turned it into a crumbling ruin, full of cobwebs (and their menacing lurkers), rats and dust. The only light to be seen is Estella, the “star”, either as herself, or by the candle she bears amidst the gloom. Yet even now you can visit “Restoration House” if you choose, and marvel at how it was transformed into a temple of filth, ruin and chaos, rotten with decay and perversion, an almost living presence, when the master magician Dickens wove his spell.

So we see chapter and verse about the places. They do exist, yet the view of them here is unique and powerful, seen through Dickens’s eyes. We also know that he often liked to include people he knew in his novels, sometimes in homage, but with notorious or famous celebrities of his time, it was more often to poke fun at them. Are there any such in Great Expectations. Certainly there are, yes. Just think of the most likely character, the most over-the-top grotesque imaginable. Are you thinking of Miss Havisham, crazed by her grief and loss ? For, incredibly, she is based on a real person.

She is very probably based on Eliza Emily Donnithorne of Camperdown, Sydney, Australia. Miss Donnithorne was a recluse and an eccentric.

At the time of writing this novel, Dickens was 48 to 49 years of age. His domestic life was in tatters, as it had rapidly gone downhill in the late 1850s, and he had now separated from his wife, Catherine. He was having a secret affair with an actress, the much younger Ellen Ternan, who could well be the basis for the character of Estella.

During the writing of Great Expectations, Dickens went on tour, reading and acting out parts of his immensely popular novels. In March and April 1861 alone, he gave six public readings. More like performances, they were very successful in every way, but it took a terrible toll on his health.

There are so many ways of sharing reactions to this novel. I have just tried to give a few here. You will find unforgettable characters here, as in all Dickens’s novels. You will laugh at Crabb’s boy’s antics and Uncle Pumblechook’s absurd pomposity. You will loathe the brutish bully, Bentley Drummle and the sly lazy Orlick. You will be in fear and awe of Abel Magwitch, and also, in a different way, of Mr Jaggers, the Old Bailey lawyer. Clever and sharp, “putting a case” but never admitting anything, he remains clinically dispassionate to the last, forever and literally, like Pontius Pilate, washing his hands of the dirty business he had to follow.

You may learn to love his clerk, the kind-hearted Wemmick, with his “postbox” of a mouth, his insistence of the value of “portable property”, and keeping a nice distinction between home life and business life; not to mention the “aged P”, nodding away enthusiastically. Both of these provide some much-needed light relief, in their fortified miniature haven, away from the throng and bustle of the avaricious, mercantile, heartless capital, with its filth, grime and squalor. Wemmick says one may get “cheated, robbed, or murdered in London”.

Such affectionate portraits, these. There is Pip’s true friend, the “pale young gentleman” Herbert Pocket, and his hilariously feckless family; loyal to a fault, but hopelessly impractical, and at a loss to organise their lives. Herbert is so good-natured; the scenes where he demonstrates how to behave in polite society are a delight. Immediately saying that he and Pip are harmonious, he asks if he might call him Handel, because of the “charming piece of music, by Handel, called the Harmonious Blacksmith”. Herbert uses the words “dear” and “good” whenever he refers to Pip, and is genial, frank, friendly, and decent, which Pip has rarely seen.

Perhaps you will admire quiet Biddy and her simple wisdom, seeing far and away more than any other character, or sturdy Joe, the salt of the earth, who offered Pip unconditional love and friendship, and taught him life’s true values. Perhaps you too will be besotted with haughty, beautiful Estelle, who unknown to both Pip and herself is equally a puppet, or cry at the hopelessness of Miss Havisham’s situation, driven half-mad by her obsession and surrounded by sycophantic relatives.

Whenever I see people refer to Dickens’s simpering women, I think of the myriad of strong female characters such as she, or Pip’s demonic whirlwind of a sister, who was “always on the rampage”, or the venomously vindictive Madame Defarge from “A Tale of Two Cities”, or the duplicitous lady’s maid Hortense in “Bleak House”, who was based on a real life murderess, or Nancy, the tragic prostitute in “Oliver Twist”. And there are many, many more. Dickens’s novels are packed with strong women, both good and bad. It is merely that Dickens conformed to the Victorian ideal of female goodness for his heroines. They were to be virtuous, competent, intelligent and compliant, and these are not seen as quite such admirable qualities in the present century.

No, Great Expectations is peopled with characters I am always sad to leave, as I turn the final page. Each time I read it I feel despair, horror and joy in equal measure, and surprised in such a novel to find I burst out laughing at some ridiculous aside or eccentric cameo I had forgotten. Each time I am completely taken up in the twists and turns; one plot twist close to the end will take your breath away when you first learn it. It feels so right, yet Dickens manages to conceal it all the way through. This is a novel where the intrigue is laced throughout. I defy you to guess the ending, should it not be already familiar to you.

Do you want a happy ending for young Pip? He does have one, of sorts. But Dickens was still not satisfied that it was acceptable, after his friend, the novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton had said it was too sad, so he wrote an alternative couple of paragraphs at the end, slightly changing its course, and leaving it deliberately vague. The original ending was not revealed until after his death, when his mentor and biographer John Forster wrote of it. Many critics do prefer the original darker ending, as being more in keeping with the dark nature of the story. Perhaps you may prefer the Victorian rewrite however, and to imagine a more upbeat and better future for our young hero. Most editions print the original ending afterwards, so the choice is yours.

But please, if you have never read this novel, make sure you leave a place for it in your reading life. I am sure you won’t regret it.

“We are not free to follow our own devices, you and I.”

“Wot larks Pip ol’ chap, wot larks!”
Profile Image for Kiekiat.
69 reviews127 followers
November 25, 2020
My history with "Great Expectations" goes back quite a ways. It all began at a party, back in the days when I was young and full of hope, unaware of life's many pitfalls and twists and turns. This is to say that I was unaware of them except at a cognitive level and had yet to experience "life's brutal indifference."

The party was honoring some professor for one of the many awards the university bestowed and, shockingly, the crowd consisted mainly of professors from various departments. It was, as one might expect, a dull party full of fawning younger pedagogues being obsequious to their academic betters. No one got drunk and crazy and there were no scenes of untoward behavior.

I happened upon a literature professor who seemed very bored with literature and who wanted to talk about my job, which, I admit, was far more interesting than life as a pedant. I persisted, however, in asking what books he recommended me to read. He wearily named two, one being "Jude the Obscure" and the other "Great Expectations."

I had never heard of "Jude the Obscure" and rushed out to buy a copy. I was familiar with "Great Expectations," though had no idea of the story line, and at that point the only book I had read of Dickens was, "A Christmas Carol." My opinion of Dickens was low, not based on his actual work but based on a Thomas Wolfe novel I had recently read (can't remember if it was "The Web and the Rock" or "You Can't Go Home Again?"). The protagonist of the Wolfe book was forever comparing Dickens to Dostoyevsky, the implication being that Dickens was an overly sentimental purveyor of treacle, whereas Dos was the real deal, a chronicler of life as it really was--grim, filled with uncertainties and contention and people who asked a lot of questions about what life meant and whether living was even worth it. Dostoyevsky was a hero of mine and Thomas Wolfe's novel had given me reason to doubt that Dickens was in the same league with him.

I started reading "Jude the Obscure" and felt like I had found a kindred soul in Thomas Hardy. Jude had to be one of the most depressing books I had ever read, and as his hopes were continually dashed I felt pity for him while also realizing that this book was not going to end happily.

Somewhere along the way I'd also picked up a used copy of "Great Expectations," one of the old Signet Classic editions. I tried several times to read it and the book simply did not "grab" me right from the start. I had friends who told me it was on of their favorite books, with a wonderful story, but I found it extremely off-putting.

Thirty years pass, and now I have lived and suffered and had come to reconcile my successes and failures and not have too many expectations for life. I was still afflicted with the habit of reading, though this had dwindled with the coming of the Internet. Still, I somehow managed to derive pleasure from reading and, being a whim reader, I was in my usual frenetic state after finishing one book and examining the thousands of unread books in my "to be read" personal library. For reasons I cannot fathom, I settled upon "Great Expectations." I was prepared to scuttle the book if it still failed to hold my interest. By this time I had read "A Tale of Two Cities" and "David Copperfield" and felt a bit more respect for Dickens and did not feel "Great Expectations" would be beyond my admittedly limited apprehension.

It was a shock when I started reading the book and found that it made sense, that I understood the voice of this small boy, Pip, writing about life with his harridan sister and her kindly husband Joe after being orphaned at an early age. It was like looking at a complicated puzzle I'd been unable to solve for years and finally, for the first time, the solution was crystal clear. I was to continue having this crystal clear feeling for a bit over 200 pages, when suddenly the puzzle's solution once again became opaque. I blame the character of Mrs. Havisham for clouding my vision. I simply could not understand why this character existed in the novel or what the point behind her was, if any? Once again the book became a chore and I feared I would have wasted twenty hours or so of reading and consoled myself by thinking that I probably would have wasted the time listening to lectures on Ancient Rome only to forget them in a month.

It was Audible that saved my bacon. In one of my many manic book-buying sprees, I had at some point already purchased the novel on Audible; so immediately switched to the audiobook format for the remaining 11+ hours of "Great Expectations."

It was a listening slog and had it not been for the excellent narrator Mr. Simon Prebble, I might have abandoned the venture. As I listened, I continued to dislike the book and could never figure out what purpose Miss Havisham or her ward, Estella, actually served in the book. The whole tale of Magwitch, the criminal whom young Pip feeds after Magwitch accosts him in the cemetery where Pip has gone to view his parents' graves, seemed barely plausible to me and the convenient wrapping up of all the confusion seemed mawkish and incredulous (though I must admit I cried on a few occasions due to Mr. Prebble's remarkable narrative skills).

The moral of the story, as G. K. Chesterton said in his preface was: Don't be a snob--something I learned in kindergarten. I had understood all of the many characters in Dickens' other first-person novel David Copperfield. Mr. Micawber seemed like many people I had known, as did Uriah Heep, the scheming, unctuous clerk. The fault of "Great Expectations, for me, was the falsity of the characters and the storyline. Joe and his termagant wife and Solicitor Jaggers and his assistant Wemmick were the only characters in this story who rang true to me.

Given the near overwhelming love of this novel by my fellow goodreaders, I have also not ruled out the likelihood that I am a shallow Philistine who wouldn't recognize literary genius even if I had Mr. Pocket as my teacher.

Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,584 followers
April 29, 2023
5 stars to Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. So many good choices in the world of Charles Dickens, but ultimately, even though I love me some ghosts of Scrooge, Great Expectations wins out.

Most of us probably were "forced" to read this book in junior high or high school. I am one of those people; however, I was an English major in college and read it again for one of my courses. It's one of those books that gets better as you get older and stronger each time you read it. If you only read it once, or you barely recall the story, I implore you to give it another chance.

This is the story of America. This is the story within all of us. It challenges culture and race. It challenges rich and poor. It challenges men and women. It challenges children and adults. It challenges marriage and being single. It challenges everything.

There are multiple plots and stories within this book. The characters are classic icons. The themes are intrinsic and speak to everything that America is built on.

At first, I admit it could feel overdone. The plot is varied and complex at times, but within each story, the lessons you learn without even realizing it are the little surprises you encounter when you least expect it.

Who can't imagine the wedding dress? Who hasn't contemplated what it would be like to steal something (even a pencil or a photocopy at work)? Who hasn't contemplated what love means?

You can't escape the realism and the drama all wrapped up in this book.

It's what helps you formulate so many ideas of life.

Go back and read it again if you haven't read it in years and didn't have an open mind. Eh, then watch the movie if you still have questions.
Profile Image for Carlos.
102 reviews91 followers
February 12, 2023
Las obras clásicas son las -en teoría- más complicadas de leer, y por ende, entender ¿Por qué? Por su alto contenido metafórico y en mi opinión, también por una razón muy simple: los tiempos de aquellos libros son muy diferentes a los nuestros.
La forma de vida, la sociedad, la cultura, la libertad, lo que era bueno y malo, todo era diferente. Si se le suma a esto hablar sobre tramas sociales, familiares o amorosas... temas siempre complicados para el ser humano, se vuelve aún (valga la redundancia) más complicados.
Y es en esta temática donde Grandes esperanzas aparece en todo su esplendor. Un libro difícil de comprender si se lee por primera vez y sin la atención necesaria.
La señora Havisham, un personaje tanto completo como complejo. En pocas palabras, ella para mí simboliza perfectamente a un padre (o una madre) buscando el éxito a través de su hijo.
La forma que usó Dickens para escribir el libro también la encontré genial: es totalmente impredecible, ya que a veces está lleno de amor, otras de esperanzas, otras de esfuerzo y otras de odio. El orden siempre varía en el libro y ese es el tipo de libros, que al menos a mí, me gusta.
Creo que no es necesario que hable de Pip o Estella, por ejemplo, ya que, si leyeron el libro, se sabe de quien se habla. Lo importante aquí, más que describir cada personaje, es describir el libro en general, the book as a whole.
¿Recomendable? ¡Absolutamente! Siempre y cuando se dediquen a leer el libro pacientemente, ya que la idea de este libro en particular es amarlo y sentir lo que cada personaje siente.
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
458 reviews3,240 followers
June 22, 2018
A young, amiable boy Philip Pirrip with the unlikely nickname of Pip, lives with his older, by twenty years, brutal, ( no motherly love, that's for sure ) unbalanced married sister, Georgiana, his only relative which is very unfortunate, strangely the only friend he has is Joe, his brother-in -law . She, the sister, beats him regularly for no apparent reason, so the boy understandably likes to roam the neighborhood for relief, thinking about pleasant things, the dreams of escape...anything is better than home. One night while visiting the graves of his parents, a desperate, fugitive convict finds him, and threatens the boy in the dark, disquieting, neglected churchyard cemetery, the quite terrified juvenile fears death , the man , a monster in his eyes... he complies with the demands... Pip provides the criminal with food, stealing from his sister but always with the threat of discovery and vicious punishment, the whipping, he knows will follow . Later this has surprising consequences in the future when Pip becomes older, if not wiser. An unexpected invite from the eccentric, man -hating Miss Havisham the riches person in the area, (who is nuttier than a Fruitcake) changes Pip prospects for the better. How weird is Miss Havisham? This recluse still wears her wedding dress, that is literally falling apart, repairs can only do so much decades after being jilted at the altar, she can never forget the unworthy, treacherous fiance who took advantage of the naive woman, for financial gain and move on...sad . Mysterious money given to the lad arrives, from who knows where but Pip is happy and doesn't ask too many questions , would you in his bad situation? So he goes to London to become a gentleman, the poor boy now can have a real life, is happy for the first time and even better has a chance, maybe, a hope, to be honest a miracle would have to occur to win the affection of Estella, the beautiful, intelligent, however somewhat arrogant girl... Miss Havisham foster daughter. Unusual ending keeps this always interesting, as we the reader follow lonely Pip , in his almost fruitless struggle for success, yet this famous classic has one of the most original characters ever imagined in literature . Miss Havisham...you begin by laughing at this pathetic woman until the melancholy shows and your heart changes little by little, you feel...and realize the anguish , the hurt deep inside her, and sympathy goes out to the unhappy lady, her pain is real. A "person" that cannot be forgotten.
Profile Image for Kalliope.
691 reviews22 followers
May 28, 2015


It is said that Satisfaction is equal to Reality minus Expectations.

I reckon then that my rating should be around Eight Stars since Reality would be Five Stars and as my Expectations were on the negative axis—with an absolute value of about three--, it has resulted in a positive eight. The Great Eight, I should anoint this book, then.

How and when were my expectations formed? If I depart on search of my forgotten memories, I think it all started with those black & white films, possibly filmed in the 1940s, watched on TV a couple of decades later and depicting bleak houses, miserable families, desolate cemeteries, poor and unhappy children. A child horrified by cruel settings.

Then it followed a couple of encounters with the somewhat compulsory activity of reading still incomprehensible text with abstruse terms, obscure and alien meaning and unpronounceable titles. The Pickwick Papers… phew…!!!

That was Dickens for me. Clearly on the negative values.

Expectations were affected by my relatively recent read of Bleak House. The humour and the excellent construction of the plot were the reality checkers. That could have also been an exception, though.

But yet again, the humour in GE captivated me, both in some of the situations, the characterisation and the language -- with the effective use of repetitions. Yes, I also appreciated Dicken’s campaign against the social injustices, the moral hypocrisies and the quagmires of the legal system of his time. But these I observed more from the box of a historian and not from the sentiments of a citizen. The world has changed too much for engaging that kind of empathy. And the somewhat caricatured characters, drawn in black and white, gained the solidity of statues. If not made of flesh they were imposing.

Full redemption was sealed when I then watched this filmed version , one of the many old versions that may have daunted me years ago…and found it delightful… and funny. My thinking of Dickens now is of a sophisticated facetious writing, and this I could now detect in the filmed version. May be the quality of the camera work, surprisingly sophisticated, as well as the excellent acting, enchanted me. No longer perceived as dreary, the old prejudices have positively been dissolved. Even the filmed version has been exorcised.

Braced with courage, I took the risk to watch a newer filmed version. This is dangerous because often modern renditions of classics which have been filmed many times, is to depart from the book and offer us an excursion into the sensational, with explicit passion and sex, and modern dialogue. Well, this 2012 production was another joy. Excellent acting and filming. But the most interesting feature was their fleshing out the somewhat caricatured characters. Modern psychology has been infused in the reasoning and motivations of the personalities, so that we understand them more. Yes, even the eccentric Miss Havisham or the much more complex Estella come across not as endearing characters thanks to their peculiarity, but as multifaceted individuals. Likelihood at the expense of the humour,-- but everything has a price.

This other version used the original ending, since Dickens changed it after his friend Edward Bulwer-Lytton advised him to do so. This was another perk of watching this excellent version.

We expect expectations to be better than reality…. It is nice when reality is the other way around.

Profile Image for Annemarie.
249 reviews686 followers
May 22, 2020
It's been two months since I've read this book and I still haven't managed to write a review. I think that's because I feel a bit intimidated. This book was just so good, I know I won't be able to write a review to do it justice.

I immediately fell in love with Pip (it literally took one sentence), and as the story went on, I fell in love with the rest of the characters as well. Every single one of them was unique and utterly charming in their own way and definitely memorable. This book could have been several hundred pages longer and I wouldn't have complained, because I felt so involved with everyone's life and just wanted to know more and more.

And the writing style...gosh, it was to die for! I can't put my finger on it, but Dickens has a certain way with words that just fills me with so much joy. It was such a comforting read somehow? I feel like he's the writer I've been waiting to discover for a long time. I can't believe I didn't read more of his books sooner! I wasn't even halfway through the book when I decided I need to read the rest of his works as soon as possible.

I "only" gave it four stars in the end, because I originally thought that there were some unnecessary parts. But the more I think about it, the more I think it deserves a higher rating. I'm sure that when I reread this book (and I know without a doubt I will do so at some point), it will get a full 5 star rating.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,868 reviews16.5k followers
December 28, 2018
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens' 1860 first person narration centers on the formation and social development of the inimical English character Pip.

Set in and around London in the early 1800s, Dickens uses vivid imagery and his usual genius at characterization to build a story that has become one of English languages greatest and most recognized stories.

As always in a Dickens’ novel, his brilliant cast of intriguing characters takes center stage as the reader comes to know a parade of literary gems. Perhaps the most intriguing is the escaped convict, Abel Magwitch, a complex man who Dickens brings to understandable life. Another classic portrayal is that of the jurist Mr. Jaggers, a lawyer who no doubt has become the template for a long list of legal caricatures since.

Two words: Miss Havisham.

Typical Dickensian themes such as wealth and poverty, isolation and salvation, and the struggles between good over evil come to life in this very entertaining story.

** 2018 - So many great memories of this wonderful book and like all of Dickens' stories, so many great characters. Pip, Magwich, Estella and of course Jaggers (wonder how he dances? Does he have moves?) But without a doubt the one who stands out most to me is that psychological train wreck that is Miss Havisham. Well worth the time in reading, probably good enough for a re-read.

Profile Image for Lisa.
981 reviews3,327 followers
October 9, 2017
It is almost hard to believe that Dickens stays the same when you read him on several occasions in your life. Somehow, the words and their meanings seem completely different. Obviously, it is my life experience that has changed, not the story. I find that to be one of Dickens' major achievements: the storytelling excellence that captures a teenager's need for complicated plots as well as the cynical grown-up's wish for reflection on human behaviour.

Great Expectations has both, and I found myself deeply engaged in the development of the immature character of the narrator, amazed at the techniques Dickens used to show the treachery and snobbery of the person who is in charge of telling the story - not an easy task, but wonderfully mastered. How is Pip going to show his faithlessness towards Joe if he is telling the story from a perspective where he is unaware of it? Dickens does it not so much through flashback moments (as in David Copperfield), but rather by describing the setting in a way that gives the reader more knowledge than the narrator. Very interesting.

And yes, I enjoyed the drama of the plot as well. There is no one like Dickens to make you shiver in the face of convicts, or shake inside Newgate prison!

Hard times ahead, picking another Dickens to read or re-read!

Update on the night I am wrapping up Bleak House: it is now my son's turn to start Great Expectations, and he is reading it for the first time, a young teenager. I can't wait to disagree with him in the same pleasant way we disagreed on David Copperfield.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,085 reviews2,952 followers
December 15, 2021
I adore this book, and I'm honestly amazed at the literary genius that went into it. I attempted reading Great Expectations as a teenager and I utterly failed. I didn't make it past chapter 3. The language was too challenging for me, and overall I felt like I didn't know where the story was going.

I recently picked this back up because I wanted to buddy read it with some friends, and that was such a good decision. I geniuenly feel like I've read this book at the perfect time in my life.

Great Expectations is a bildungsroman by Charles Dickens which was published between 1860 and 1861, and it deals with timely themes such as wealth and poverty, love and rejection and the differences between a rural environment and the London metropolis. In this novel we follow the psychological and moral developement of the young orphaned boy Pip to his maturity. It exhibits his hopes and youthful dreams and their metamorphosis through the hardships of adulthood.

I have to admit that my reading experience of this novel wasn't necessarily worthy of five stars. There were times when the novel dragged, and didn't manage to hold my interest, but overall, and especially looking back on it, I have to give credit where credit is due: The novel in itself is such a well-rounded story, in which every narrative thread was picked up again and resolved, thus weaving a complexity into this narrative which was honestly impressive.

Dickens created a lot of unlikeable characters for this tale: The cold-hearted bitch that is Estella. The crazy, egocentric spinster that is Miss Havisham. The disloyal ambitious boy that is Pip. However, all of these characters have a certain depth to them that makes them multi-layered and most importantly, real. Estella learns the hard way that her mannerism was cruel. Miss Havisham sees the flaws of her behaviour as well. And even Pip aspires to improve eventually, and pays his dues.

Great Expecations glistens with its side characters. I will never forget Wemmick and the comic relief he provided to the story. I will forever cherish his entertaining and loveable relationship to Mr Jaggers. Also, Orlick is a character that I'll think about for a long time. (Am I the only one who thought of Caliban from The Tempest whenever he popped up?)

Great Expecations is such an atmospheric tale and seems to draw heavily on the gothic novel, especially with Miss Havisham, the bride frozen in time and the ruins of Satis House filled with weeds and spiders. And even the aristocratic Drummle and his bursts of extreme cruelty, and Pip himself who spends his youth chasing for beauty fit the picture. Then again, it displays comedic, almost satirical moments, highlighting the novel's most eccentric characters. One only has to remember Pip's christmas dinner, Wopsle's performance of Hamlet or Wemmick's marriage, and the comedic traits of this story can't be denied.

I could literally praise this novel all day. It provides a rich basis for an analysis through the postcolonial lens (the book reinforces the standards that support the authority of the British empire and thus the exploitation of the Middle East through trade and travel), but also a basis for psychoanalytical criticism (the construction of identity in relation to the social order) and feminist criticism (the silence of women in the novel, and the glorification of domestic violence).

Moreover, in the centre of the novel stands the idea that wealth is only acceptable to the ruling class if it comes from the labour of others. Miss Havisham's wealth is considered 'pure', because it comes from rent collected on properties she inherited from her father and not from the sweat of her brow. Whereas, Magwitch's wealth is socially unacceptable, even repugnant to Pip, because he earned it through his own hard work, and because he was a convict.

The setting of the metropolis functions almost as a prison for Pip. In London, neither wealth nor gentility brings him happiness. His experience is dominated by chronic unease, weariness and feelings of insecurity. In the crowded metropolis, Pip grows disenchanted, disillusioned and lonely. Just like Estella (at the end of the novel), he learned the hard way how he took for granted what was most precious to him – his native Kent and the support provided by his dearest friends Joe and Biddy.

And I have to say that I've never read a better last chapter to any story. Ever. I saw no shadow from another parting from her. My mind is blown. Only few authors can pull of ambigious endings, but they all pale in comparison to Dickens. When Pip returns to the ruins of Satis House and meets Estella there, the whole scene had such a melancholic vibe to it, that I could literally feel it in my body. We witnessed two characters intentionally and unintentionally wreck the lives of the other, both have grown from the hardships that life has thrown in their way. They are 'bent and broken – but perhaps into a better shape.' Will they leave together or go seperate ways? It's up to the reader to decide, and I was never more satisfied after finishing a novel.
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