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Great Expectations > GE, Chapters 58 - 59

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5700 comments Mod
Dear Curiosities,

We are now finishing the novel and I'm a little sad it is at an end, although I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because even with all that happened some months ago we stayed together, we kept going, and with so many working together, we are still here and finished GE mostly on the same schedule we had in Pickwick. What a read and what a group. And with that I'll move on to Chapter 58, where, in Dickens way, we are winding things up.

Pip arrives back at the Blue Boar and learns that the news of his great expectations, or the loss of them, is already known. Pip says that the people who were warm toward him when he came into his property, were now very cool since he lost it. The Blue Boar can no longer give him his usual room - which is saved for people with expectations - but he slept the same in the little room among the pigeons. In the morning he walks to Satis House and sees signs announcing the house will and items in it will be sold by auction. The house is to be sold as old building materials and torn down. When he returns from his walk Pumblechook is waiting for him in the breakfast room and goes on and on in his usual way, taking credit for anything that may have happened to Pip as good, and blaming Pip for not listening to him when things go wrong. He goes on and on about Pip being brought up by hand, and his being Pip's earliest benefactor and the founder of his fortune, or some such thing. I didn't realize how much I hated this guy before and cringed to be back in his prescence even if only for one or two more chapters. But Pumblechook is gone now, off to torment some other townsperson by being their earliest benefactor.

We now get away from Pumblechook and Pip makes his way to the forge. He is surprised to see it is quiet there, by that time he should hear the clink of Joe's hammer, but there was no such sound and coming to the forge finds that it is closed. There are people in the house though, and we find that Biddy wasn't sitting around just waiting for him to come back and offer himself to her, to make her life complete I suppose:

"At first Biddy gave a cry, as if she thought it was my apparition, but in another moment she was in my embrace. I wept to see her, and she wept to see me; I, because she looked so fresh and pleasant; she, because I looked so worn and white.

“But dear Biddy, how smart you are!”

“Yes, dear Pip.”

“And Joe, how smart you are!”

“Yes, dear old Pip, old chap.”

I looked at both of them, from one to the other, and then—

“It’s my wedding-day!” cried Biddy, in a burst of happiness, “and I am married to Joe!”

They had taken me into the kitchen, and I had laid my head down on the old deal table. Biddy held one of my hands to her lips, and Joe’s restoring touch was on my shoulder. “Which he warn’t strong enough, my dear, fur to be surprised,” said Joe. And Biddy said, “I ought to have thought of it, dear Joe, but I was too happy.” They were both so overjoyed to see me, so proud to see me, so touched by my coming to them, so delighted that I should have come by accident to make their day complete!

My first thought was one of great thankfulness that I had never breathed this last baffled hope to Joe. How often, while he was with me in my illness, had it risen to my lips! How irrevocable would have been his knowledge of it, if he had remained with me but another hour!

“Dear Biddy,” said I, “you have the best husband in the whole world, and if you could have seen him by my bed you would have—But no, you couldn’t love him better than you do.”

“No, I couldn’t indeed,” said Biddy.

“And, dear Joe, you have the best wife in the whole world, and she will make you as happy as even you deserve to be, you dear, good, noble Joe!”

Joe looked at me with a quivering lip, and fairly put his sleeve before his eyes.

“And Joe and Biddy both, as you have been to church to-day, and are in charity and love with all mankind, receive my humble thanks for all you have done for me, and all I have so ill repaid! And when I say that I am going away within the hour, for I am soon going abroad, and that I shall never rest until I have worked for the money with which you have kept me out of prison, and have sent it to you, don’t think, dear Joe and Biddy, that if I could repay it a thousand times over, I suppose I could cancel a farthing of the debt I owe you, or that I would do so if I could!”


So Dickens has given Biddy and Joe a happy ending, with them, almost all the people are accounted for. Except for Pip, right now he seems to be all alone, and without his expectations. So what do you think? Does he mean the things he says to Joe and Biddy? Is he surprised by what has happened? If he would have shown up a week earlier would he have had a chance with Biddy even then? And has he finally changed?


message 2: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5700 comments Mod
And with that we find ourselves at Chapter 59, the end of the book. I am going to concentrate on the ending that was published, the ending Dickens wrote after being advised by Edward Bulwer-Lytton to change it, thinking it was too "downcast". So for now we are going to concentrate on the chapter that was changed and published in all editions. Tristram will take a shot at the other ending in a few days.

The chapter begins:

"For eleven years, I had not seen Joe nor Biddy with my bodily eyes,—though they had both been often before my fancy in the East,—when, upon an evening in December, an hour or two after dark, I laid my hand softly on the latch of the old kitchen door. I touched it so softly that I was not heard, and looked in unseen. There, smoking his pipe in the old place by the kitchen firelight, as hale and as strong as ever, though a little gray, sat Joe; and there, fenced into the corner with Joe’s leg, and sitting on my own little stool looking at the fire, was—I again!"

Joe, who has always had a better view of Pip than I ever did, tells Pip that they named their son after him, I suppose I could live with that, but he goes on to say that they hope little Pip may grow a little bit like Pip (a very little hopefully), and they can see he is a little like Pip already. As Pip talks to Biddy her little girl sleeps in her lap. I was surprised to find they had a little girl, I didn't remember that at all from my other readings. I only remembered the boy. I didn't see them mention the child's name, but I hope it isn't Estella. Biddy asks Pip if he has forgotten "her" and Pip and we find:

“My dear Biddy, I have forgotten nothing in my life that ever had a foremost place there, and little that ever had any place there. But that poor dream, as I once used to call it, has all gone by, Biddy,—all gone by!”

Nevertheless, I knew, while I said those words, that I secretly intended to revisit the site of the old house that evening, alone, for her sake. Yes, even so. For Estella’s sake.

"I had heard of her as leading a most unhappy life, and as being separated from her husband, who had used her with great cruelty, and who had become quite renowned as a compound of pride, avarice, brutality, and meanness. And I had heard of the death of her husband, from an accident consequent on his ill-treatment of a horse. This release had befallen her some two years before; for anything I knew, she was married again."


I'm not sure why he is visiting the house "secretly", but after his talk with Biddy that's what he does. There is no house any longer, or any brewery, all that remained was the garden wall. On entering through the gate he sees someone ahead of him, it is Estella. Pip says that the fresh beauty he remembered is gone, but the majesty and charm remained. He had never seen the feelings he now sees, she seems sad, the light in her eyes is now soft, but the most surprising thing was the friendly touch of the once cool hand. This is the first time either of them has been back to the grounds of Satis house, Estella has come to say a last goodbye, it is to be built upon by another. Estella tells Pip she has often thought of him, giving thoughts of him a place in her heart. We end with:

“You have always held your place in my heart,” I answered.

And we were silent again until she spoke.

“I little thought,” said Estella, “that I should take leave of you in taking leave of this spot. I am very glad to do so.”

“Glad to part again, Estella? To me, parting is a painful thing. To me, the remembrance of our last parting has been ever mournful and painful.”

“But you said to me,” returned Estella, very earnestly, “‘God bless you, God forgive you!’ And if you could say that to me then, you will not hesitate to say that to me now,—now, when 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. Be as considerate and good to me as you were, and tell me we are friends.”

“We are friends,” said I, rising and bending over her, as she rose from the bench.

“And will continue friends apart,” said Estella.

I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her."


One more thing about the last line, Dickens first wrote ‘I saw the shadow of no parting from her’ which seems to imply marriage, he changed it to ‘I saw the shadow of no parting from her, but one’ seemed to imply their union unto death. Yet Dickens scratched both of those versions out, and his last thought was to authorise the line which allows the reader to draw his or her own conclusion, "I saw no shadow of another parting from her."

What do you think? Is one better than another? What does the last line he wrote tell us? Are they together forever? I think a marriage between those two may not be the happiest of marriages. We'll never know.


message 3: by Mary Lou (last edited May 17, 2017 05:02PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mary Lou | 2311 comments Kim wrote: "What do you think? Is one better than another? What does the last line he wrote tell us? Are they together forever? I think a marriage between those two may not be the happiest of marriages. We'll never know. ."


The prodigal son returns!

I prefer the last line as it was published. A great cliff-hanger! Which makes me wonder if Dickens was the first to employ the device. Better than Mitchell's Gone With the Wind.

My own speculation, based on Estella's words, is that she still has no interest in Pip as a suitor, and he's still too obsessed and thick-headed to smell the coffee. Will he wear her down? Perhaps. But, like Kim, I doubt it would be a happy marriage for either of them.

I don't remember an alternate ending, so look forward to hearing about it. Given my druthers, I think I might have actually liked a less hopeful conclusion to Pip's story. Either that, or perhaps one in which he'd outgrown his obsession and come home from his years overseas with a bride that wasn't "broken" like Estella.

As for Biddy and Joe, bless them, thank God Pip didn't tell Joe his intentions! We can be sure Joe would never have married her if he thought Pip wanted her, regardless of Biddy's desires. I think Biddy knew who the better man was. While she may have once harbored notions of being with Pip, she's got too good a head on her shoulders to have made him her companion for life.


Peter | 3033 comments Mod
Chapter 58

Yes, we are very near the end of GE and I too, like you Kim, am humbled and thankful that we are all still together. The Curiosities have had quite the journey recently.

Pumblechook talks and talks. Interesting how his part of the chapter is longer than the Pip-Joe-Biddy section.

In this chapter we witness and hear Pip's contrition for his past actions. Joe and Biddy forgive him. With the wedding of Joe and Biddy and Herbert and Clara and the earlier one of Wemmick and Miss Skiffins we now have Pip alone among his friends. Is this a punishment for Pip? The last chapter seems to open the door for Pip as well, but I'm going to hold my comments until we read the intended last chapter to the novel.

Dickens has made many adjustments to his writing, his focus, his style and his creation of character in this novel. While the second ending, and the focus of this section's comments, is good, it was not what Dickens wanted. To make my final comments on Pip, I will do so based on how Dickens intended to end the novel.

In any case, Pip learns that Estella's life has been less than stellar and she has been physically abused by the brutish Drummle.

And so off to earn his keep and pay his debts goes Pip. He tells us that through hard work the House is successful and they did very well.


Peter | 3033 comments Mod
Chapter 59

We have highlighted many phrases in this novel and I have returned on more than one occasion to the phrase that observes how one day, one choice in that day, will have consequences for an entire life. To me, there is a phrase that is even more powerful. When Estella asks Pip how he is doing, Pip responds, "I work pretty hard for a sufficient living, and therefore -- Yes, I do well!" It is here, I think, that we see Pip as the person who is fully mature, fully realized. When Pip says "I do well" he says that as a person who is looking back on a life lived. Pip's arrogance is gone, and his pride in himself has now been tempered with both physical and emotional pain. He has been very comfortable in his former life as a gentleman and then lost everything. And yet he did not lose everything. He has seen what true friendship is through the characters of Joe and Biddy. He has seen what true love is through his life with Herbert and Clara. He has been able to accept that hard work has brought his success. He has learned that success is not simply given; rather, success is a combination of failure and humility.

What will become of Pip? Of Estella? If we take the last paragraph of the second ending we can make a reasonable assumption that they will be together and that their life will be one of both challenge and fulfillment. I suggest this because the last paragraph of the novel is an allusion to Milton's ending in "Paradise Lost." Pip and Estella leave the "ruined place" which represents Eden and hand in hand enter into the "tranquil light" of their lives. As Milton wrote

"The world was before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.
They hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way."


Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "My first thought was one of great thankfulness that I had never breathed this last baffled hope to Joe."

Which raises the question, if he had told Joe would Joe have backed off and let Pip have first crack at proposing to Biddy, like Farebrother does in Middlemarch? Even though Joe is clearly a better marriage prospect than Pip, having a good job, a house and forge, and maybe a few pounds left after bailing Pip out from his huge jewelry debts.


Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "his last thought was to authorise the line which allows the reader to draw his or her own conclusion, "I saw no shadow of another parting from her.""

He doesn't see it, but I hope Estella is smart enough to not only see it but scram out'a there as fast as she can.


LindaH | 124 comments You gotta love Dickens, that he would play, in the end, not just with words, but with his readers' heads.

"The shadow of no parting" versus "no shadow of another parting"....

I think the last line comes long after the reunion of Pip and Estella, in the mature, wise voice of Pip.


message 9: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5700 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "He doesn't see it, but I hope Estella is smart enough..."

I never considered Estella turning Pip down when he gets around to asking her to marry him. I thought it would be a yes as soon as he stopped talking. But maybe she would turn him down. I wonder which it would be.


Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments It was a toe-curling moment when an enthusiastic Pip arrived with Joe and eBiddy. I was almost hollering at Pip "don't do it!" "Don't mention the war" for anyone familiar with the UK programme 'Fawlty Towers' from the '70s. The master John Cleese and his then wife both co-wrote and starred in it. Unlike Mr Fawlty, Pip, thankfully, 😅 did not put his foot in it.. After a slow start it seemed


Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments (Cont'd) seemed that Pip was genuinely delighted to see his old friends happily married!
Pip missed out on a good wife when he lost Biddy. His infatuation for Estella was still
simmering within, otherwise he may have been more personally abashed at the thought of losing Biddy who would always have been true to him and have offered that stability in Pip's life that he truly needed. If he does end with Estella I hope against hope that she treated him well!


Linda | 363 comments I finished but haven't had much computer time lately. A lot happened in the last 3 or 4 chapters! I'm glad that Joe married Biddy, they deserved each other, and that genuinely brought tears to my eyes. And perhaps Pip will stay a bachelor the rest of his life. I wasn't quite sure what the shadow line meant - if Estelle and Pip were or were not to part? I don't see them marrying, though.

My book had the alternate ending for comparison, where little Pip is with Pip and he wonders if Estelle thinks that he is Pip's little boy instead of Joe and Biddy's. The alternate ending was too short, though, so I'm glad Dickens went with the rewritten ending.


Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Everyman wrote: "He doesn't see it, but I hope Estella is smart enough..."

I never considered Estella turning Pip down when he gets around to asking her to marry him. "


Well, after all, her last words are “And will continue friends apart.” Pip may not see the shadow of another parting, but of course that's not up to him. She seems to have made very clear that she has no intention of being more than friends.

Pip may hope, but he's been hoping for her all his life without success, and I see nothing in her words here that suggest a change.

What in the text makes people think that Estella will accept a proposal if he ever makes one? I think it's just wishful thinking without any basis in the text. Unless there are things I missed. If there are, I'm sure Peter will politely but firmly correct me!


Everyman | 829 comments Mod
I don't recall every being told how old Biddy was, but clearly older than Pip since she was largely managing Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt's store and also doing most (all?) of the teaching. So in an age where marriage was almost always of men marrying younger, sometimes considerably younger, wives, it seems strange that Pip would have thought of her as a potential wife (though he really didn't do much thinking about it, did he? It was just a flight from his problems to an older woman who would look after him now as she did years ago). She's much more suited, age wise, to have married Joe.


Tristram Shandy | 4456 comments Mod
Not only age-wise, Everyman, but also because Joe, after all his trials and tribulations, and his readiness to sacrifice his savings in order to spare Pip a sojourn in a place that would probably have done him some good, and after having been married to a woman of a more austere temper, simply deserves a kind-hearted and loyal and understanding wife like Biddy. I still think it very egoistic in Pip to assume that he has a right to propose to Biddy and to allow her to share his future life, when he has so little to offer her - through his own fault. Apart from that, the new ending even aggravates this impression in me because after all, Pip first swerves from Estella to Biddy, and then, in the final chapter, seems to be quite ready to pester Estella again.

What I also found strange was that Pip did not tell us of his pangs and disappointment in finding Biddy married to Joe. Clearly, it is noble in him to show happiness about Joe and Biddy's conjugal bliss - a sign of selflessness -, but still, in his heart of hearts he could have been sadder and more disappointed, had he really had any deeper feelings for Biddy.

I also wondered at the length of the Pumblechook episode, all th more so as P. is clearly a minor character - but then I noticed that for all of Pumblechook's hypocrisy, there is a grain of truth in his lamentations and invectives because Pip really was extremely ungrateful. Not so much to P. but to nearly everyone else who had some claim on gratefulness and loyalty.


message 16: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5700 comments Mod


The Old Place by the Kitchen Firelight

Chapter 59

F. W. Pailthorpe

c. 1900

Text Illustrated:

For eleven years, I had not seen Joe nor Biddy with my bodily eyes,—though they had both been often before my fancy in the East,—when, upon an evening in December, an hour or two after dark, I laid my hand softly on the latch of the old kitchen door. I touched it so softly that I was not heard, and looked in unseen. There, smoking his pipe in the old place by the kitchen firelight, as hale and as strong as ever, though a little gray, sat Joe; and there, fenced into the corner with Joe’s leg, and sitting on my own little stool looking at the fire, was—I again!

“We giv’ him the name of Pip for your sake, dear old chap,” said Joe, delighted, when I took another stool by the child’s side (but I did not rumple his hair), “and we hoped he might grow a little bit like you, and we think he do.”



message 17: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5700 comments Mod


I saw the shadow of no parting from her

Chapter 59

John McLenan

1861

Dickens's Great Expectations,

Harper's Weekly

Text Illustrated:

“The ground belongs to me. It is the only possession I have not relinquished. Everything else has gone from me, little by little, but I have kept this. It was the subject of the only determined resistance I made in all the wretched years.”

“Is it to be built on?”

“At last, it is. I came here to take leave of it before its change. And you,” she said, in a voice of touching interest to a wanderer,—“you live abroad still?”

“Still.”

“And do well, I am sure?”

“I work pretty hard for a sufficient living, and therefore—yes, I do well.”

“I have often thought of you,” said Estella.

“Have you?”

“Of late, very often. 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. But since my duty has not been incompatible with the admission of that remembrance, I have given it a place in my heart.”

“You have always held your place in my heart,” I answered.

And we were silent again until she spoke.

“I little thought,” said Estella, “that I should take leave of you in taking leave of this spot. I am very glad to do so.”

“Glad to part again, Estella? To me, parting is a painful thing. To me, the remembrance of our last parting has been ever mournful and painful.”

“But you said to me,” returned Estella, very earnestly, “‘God bless you, God forgive you!’ And if you could say that to me then, you will not hesitate to say that to me now,—now, when 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. Be as considerate and good to me as you were, and tell me we are friends.”

“We are friends,” said I, rising and bending over her, as she rose from the bench.

“And will continue friends apart,” said Estella.

I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her."



message 18: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5700 comments Mod


"With Estella after all"

Chapter 59

Marcus Stone

Garnett edition

Text Illustrated:

"I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her."


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Kim | 5700 comments Mod


"We sat down on a bench that was near"

Chapter 59

by F. A. Fraser

1877

Commentary: (finally one I don't have to cut parts out of)

"To begin with, Charles Dickens had died in the midst of writing yet another best-seller — but the potential for sales of his novels was very much alive in the minds of the management of Chapman and Hall, Covent Garden. The year after their principal author's death, the London publishing house issued a new Oliver Twist as the first of a series that would eventually amount to twenty-two volumes. Chapman and Hall named the new edition the "Household Edition" in order to capitalize on the reading public's fond memories of of Dickens's 1850s weekly journal, Household Words. The firm, desiring a new "sixties" look for the illustrations, recruited members of a new generation of artists that had moved away from the symbolic detailism and caricature of Phiz and Cruikshank. Although Fred Barnard received the commissions for a number of the new volumes, F. A. Fraser received the contract for Great Expectations (circa 1875).

Including the frontispiece, Fraser's series includes twenty-eight plates. In the last, he reveals to the reader unfamiliar with the novel's plot that Pip and Estella do indeed meet again in the closing pages. But, like Dickens, the illustrator gives the reader an ambivalent closure rather than what we have come to recognize as the "happy" ending of "Boy Gets Girl" that the Victorian reading public demanded. The illustration, centrally positioned on the page which describes Pip's return to the forge after eleven years abroad, alerts the reader to the final scene in the ruined garden--but not to its outcome.

The twilight hour is admirably conveyed by the dark shading that sweeps across the entire picture. Fraser suggests Pip's hopefulness in the look he gives Estella, and Estella's pensiveness in the downcast turn of her head and her averted glance. The viewer finds it difficult to "read" her attitude towards Pip. He has aged very little if at all since the deathbed scene with Magwitch (plate 27)--indeed, his hair and features are unchanged, and he still wears the same clothes and carries the same cane! Despite the December setting, a rosebush flourishes to the left of the figures, emblemmatic perhaps of their continued affection for one another, and inspired perhaps by Dickens's reference to the old ivy that "had struck root anew, and was growing green on the low quiet mounds of ruin." Through his caption Fraser indicates the precise moment realized. The bench is of wood rather than wrought-iron or stone, and is, therefore, like the lovers, surprisingly well preserved. The general tidiness of the background is hardly suggestive of a "ruin" at all.

Although the shading makes assessment of the colour of Estella's clothing difficult, she appears to be in mourning, despite the fact that two years have passed since Drummle's death. Although Pip drescribes himself to her as one who "work[s] pretty hard for a sufficient living," he is as fashionably and soberly dressed as she. Unlike Stone and Furniss, Fraser has chosen to depict the lovers seated and still exploring their feelings for one another, rather than showing them leaving the ruined garden together and towards (the reader hopes) a new life together. This, the reader unfamiliar with the entire plot of the novel is caught in a moment of indecision, and does not find closure in this illustration until he or she has turned the page and read the accompanying letter-press. The plate in itself does not afford closure, only the fragile possibility of closure."



message 20: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5700 comments Mod


Estella And Pip

Chapter 59

Harry Furniss

1910

Commentary:

Earlier in the ultimate day of the action of Great Expectations, Pip, just returned from the eastern offices of Clarriker and Company, takes his nephew, little Pip, to visit the old cemetery where the narrative began, among the tombstones of the Pirrip family. The narrator specifically mentions reliving the opening scene by setting the child of Biddy and Joe "on a certain tombstone" (Ch. LIX) in the churchyard. However, in Harry Furniss's final plate for the 1910 Charles Dickens Library Edition of the novel, "Estella and Pip: I saw no shadow of another parting from her" we are not in the garden of the former Satis House at all, but once again in the churchyard. Thus, perhaps to provide a neat complement to the opening scene, the illustrator has conflated the churchyard and the garden into a single setting. Since this twenty-seventh plate has been placed some five pages prior to the moment realized, the reader may not notice the incongruous elements: the willow tree (right), the tomb (left rear), and the tombstone (right). Symbolically, since the scene between Pip and Estella lays rest the vengeful spirit of Miss Havisham, that it has been re-set in the graveyard may be appropriate, even if in doing so Furniss has challenged the authority of Dickens's text as no previous illustrator before him had done.

Almost as incongruous as the properties in the background is the sour expression of the protagonist, hardly that of an ardent lover who has just completed his life-time quest. Estella (downstage centre, so to speak) dominates the ultimate scene, as proud, haughty, unbowed, and poised as ever as she gently lifts her voluminous skirt with her right hand while lightly resting her left on Pip's arm. Lightly sketched in the background are an area railing (right) and the leaded panes of a church window (left). Although Dickens specifies that the scene occurs on a misty December evening, Furniss suggests neither the twilight hour nor the season, for the scene is well lit and the willow in full leaf.

Such a departure from the letter-press is rare among Victorian illustrated editions because the illustrator was aware of the constraints placed upon artistic license by the presence of the text, and therefore produced plates that complemented the written text rather than undermined it. Screenwriters and dramatic adapters, on the other hand, appear not to have operated under the same constraints. At the conclusion of the 1921 silent-film adaptation of Great Expectations, for example, Pip (Harry Komdrop) and Estella (Olga d'Org), without the benefit of winter coats, embrace in front of the shattered walls and barred windows of Satis House. This is a relatively modest example of how screenwriters have taken liberties with the novel, for although the Nordisk film dresses the set with a gate leading into the garden, as specified in the text, Dickens mentions that the house itself together with its outbuildings has been levelled: "There was no house now, no brewery, no building whatever left . . . ."

In contrast, screenwriters David Lean, Ronald Neame, and Anthony Havelock-Allan completely revised both the setting and the dialogue of the closing scene to recreate it as a Poe-esque moment in a Gothic setting. Inside the mansion, its windows draped to shut out the life-giving light of day, Pip (John Mills) confronts a Havisham-possessed Estella (Jean Simmons) in the 1947 Cineguild/J. Arthur Rank production (No. 39 in Bolton) directed by screen-legend David Lean. Pip, rehearsing the closing, melodramatic moments of a vampire film, realizes that the spirit of arrested time and emotion must be exorcized by bringing the light of reason to the obsessed heroine, thereby banishing the oppressive shade of Miss Havisham from Estella's psyche into the shadows of the past where that warped spirit belongs. In other respects, the film is an acknowledged classic of black-and-white cinematography, mixing Dickensian realism and psychological fantasy with modernist montage and closeups, according to Paul Davis.



message 21: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5700 comments Mod
The curious story of the American editions of Great Expectations.

"The curious story of the copyright for Great Expectations on American shores is complicated by the competing interests of three Yankee publishers. Assigned American serial rights by Dickens himself in exchange for significant financial considerations, Harper and Brothers applied for American copyright for Great Expectations on 15 November 1860, and then began publishing the novel in weekly installments with wood-engravings by John McLenan on 24 November 1860. Possibly printed only for copyright purposes is a 168-page Peterson volume with no illustrations, derived directly from the text published serially in Harper's; it is undated, but is likely from early August 1861. Yet another publisher, a pirate eager to bring out an edition as soon as possible, was Gardner A. Fuller of Boston; this firm's single volume octavo, illustrated by A. K. Kipps, (I can't find it - not yet anyway) was probably published later in 1861, but is undated; it was followed by another single-volume edition, dated 1862, with the Kipps' wood-engravings revised and sharpened as steel engravings by F. O. Freeman. Boston's Ticknor Fields, Dickens's official American publisher with volume rights, did not bring out a version of Great Expectations until 1866.

New York publisher James G. Gregory's uniform octavo edition of the works of Charles Dickens (initiated in 1860) in fifty-five volumes in dark green cloth includes a pirated Great Expectations with a pair of frontispieces by Darley. Since the serial run of the novel did not finish in Harper's Weekly until 3 August, 1861, Gregory was quick off the mark in registering his American copyright (reified by the book's having an American-born illustrator) on 26 August 1861, thereby stealing a march on the sanctioned edition issued by Philadelphia publisher T. B. Peterson, who did not enter his one-volume edition of the novel for copyright protection with the Library of Congress until 8 November 1861, even though the Peterson single-volume version like the English triple-decker was made available for sale in July, whereas the Gregory volume did not go on sale until September, 1861".



Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "What I also found strange was that Pip did not tell us of his pangs and disappointment in finding Biddy married to Joe. Clearly, it is noble in him to show happiness about Joe and Biddy's conjugal bliss - a sign of selflessness -, but still, in his heart of hearts he could have been sadder and more disappointed, had he really had any deeper feelings for Biddy..."

I assume that's because he really didn't have any deeper feelings for Biddy. He's at loose ends, no job, no prospects, his puppy love object gone, so he decides to go to run back to the one woman he's ever known who might comfort him and stroke his ego and make things all safe again. I.e., his substitute mother. That's what he's looking for, isn't it?


Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "For eleven years, I had not seen Joe nor Biddy with my bodily eyes,—though they had both been often before my fancy in the East,—when, upon an evening in December, an hour or two after dark, I laid my hand softly on the latch of the old kitchen door. I touched it so softly that I was not heard, and looked in unseen. There, smoking his pipe in the old place by the kitchen firelight, as hale and as strong as ever, though a little gray, sat Joe; and there, fenced into the corner with Joe’s leg, and sitting on my own little stool looking at the fire, was—I again! "

It hadn't struck me at the time, but Joe and Biddy certainly waited awhile to have their child. I don't think we're told how old Pip Jr is, but not very.


Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Fraser has chosen to depict the lovers seated and still exploring their feelings for one another, rather than showing them leaving the ruined garden together and towards (the reader hopes) a new life together. ."

Not this reader.


Peter | 3033 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "The curious story of the American editions of Great Expectations.

"The curious story of the copyright for Great Expectations on American shores is complicated by the competing interests of three Y..."


Kim. Not only do you hunt down the illustrations for us each week but now you are our official detective to hunt down Kipps - whoever s/he will turn out to be. Thank you.

This time the Furniss illustration is not so disappointing. The commentary analysis was very interesting and the observation that Furniss was stepping beyond his fellow illustrations interpretations of the letter-press was insightful.

My favourite this week is the F.A. Fraser. I like its simplicity of execution. The wall behind Pip and Estella is so solid. It dominates the background. There are a few cracks in it, as would be expected in a structure that has been neglected for so long. Symbolically, the solid wall also suggests to me the separation that did exist between Pip and Estella has now been breached. Now both can share a common space with similar life experiences. Both characters have learned bitter and painful lessons in their lives. Both have been bent by the pressures of life. And yet, here they are at last, together.

I'm glad they are sitting. To me, sitting implies a contemplative pausing. There is a blooming rose on the left middle of the illustration and as mentioned a rose in bloom in the cold surly must suggest some hope for their future. That the rose is backdropped by the wall is significant too.

In the illustration we see Estella looking down. Gone are all the references to her haughtiness and pride. Her face looks somewhat worn. It is the face of experience. As Pip glances at her downcast face we can follow his line of sight to and then past Estella to the blooming rose. Certainly a symbol of hope.

I'm a fan of the original ending so this illustration is interesting in that it captures - at least to me - their sorrow at what has been learned, but the price they have had to pay for their apprentiships. Still, the first ending is the true one. No roses. No thorns either.

If readers ever wondered why so much attention was given to apprentiships in the novel perhaps this is the picture that would capture the answer best. Learning the trade of life is long, hard, painful, and few fairy tales come true. One must learn the craft of life as we live through it. We are all apprenticed for life to life.


Tristram Shandy | 4456 comments Mod
Yes, I go with Peter in saying that Fraser's illustration is my favourite, and for the very reasons Peter pointed out. Marcus Stone's couple look like conspirators, and apart from that I would never have pictured Pip such a sturdy bearded fellow. And Harry Furniss's Pip looks as though his favourite drink were vinegar. At the same time however, I like how Furniss has Pip and Estella go next to each other as though each of them were still going on their own. This, and the gravestones and plants in the background, which made me think of the movie "Suddenly, Last Summer", make it much less obvious that Pip and Estella will finally come together than the text suggests.


Tristram Shandy | 4456 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "Tristram wrote: "What I also found strange was that Pip did not tell us of his pangs and disappointment in finding Biddy married to Joe. Clearly, it is noble in him to show happiness about Joe and ..."

It's as though Pip could not, or would not, face life on his own. Having lived on another man's allowance all these years, he now wants to secure for himself the caring hand and mind of a woman. I do like your idea of a "mother surrogate", and this time Pip wants to make sure that this surrogate will be gentler than the first he had.


message 28: by Ami (last edited May 21, 2017 01:55PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ami | 372 comments Kim wrote: "Dear Curiosities,

We are now finishing the novel and I'm a little sad it is at an end, although I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because even with all that happened some months ago we stayed togethe..."


I'm done and get to post alongside of you in the finale...YES!

So what do you think? Does he mean the things he says to Joe and Biddy?
I do believe he is genuine in his sentiments for Biddy and Joe, and I'm glad to know he divulged all of this in his humble state...Any time before this, it would seem contrived and inorganic regardless of his truth.

Is he surprised by what has happened? If he would have shown up a week earlier would he have had a chance with Biddy even then?
Yes, surprised, but I also read him to be slightly relieved as well considering his
first thought was one of great thankfulness that I had never breathed this last baffled hope to Joe.
Pip may have had noble intentions for Biddy, but he still pines for Estella on some level. I read baffled hope, as not being on board 100% regarding Biddy.

And has he finally changed?
Pip is much changed. I think about everything he has endured, his initial perceptions of characters (Joe, Herbert, Magwitch, and the tailor's boy) compared with his final thoughts about them...Pip has grown and matured by acknowledging a personal humility in himself. The child/adolescent/young gentleman/honest adult has been put through the wringer and learned life's hard lessons in the process.


message 29: by Ami (last edited May 21, 2017 02:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ami | 372 comments Kim wrote: "And with that we find ourselves at Chapter 59, the end of the book. I am going to concentrate on the ending that was published, the ending Dickens wrote after being advised by Edward Bulwer-Lytton ..."

One more thing about the last line, Dickens first wrote I saw the shadow of no parting from her which seems to imply marriage,
Nice! I didn't think it implied marriage as it did that they would always be in one another's company while holding each other in high esteem. Since I believe Pip to be changed, I would think him to be more realistic about the hopes of a romantic relationship with Estella. Pip in these last two chapters, I speculate to be in his mid-30's, yet his voice ages him trifold...Although he is content with his life, Pip does seem awfully exhausted from it.

... he changed it to I saw the shadow of no parting from her, but one seemed to imply their union unto death.
I saw it like this as well, a "union unto death..." As forever friends.

Yet Dickens scratched both of those versions out, and his last thought was to authorise the line which allows the reader to draw his or her own conclusion, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.
I enjoyed Dickens's ambiguity here, Kim. I may have mentioned this earlier, but I first read this novel in high school. My thoughts on the conclusion now are drastically different from when I was fifteen years old because I believed Pip and Estella ended up together romantically, giving them their happy ending. Now, as you have read...it's something of a change.


message 30: by Ami (last edited May 21, 2017 07:36PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ami | 372 comments Mary Lou wrote: "Kim wrote: "What do you think? Is one better than another? What does the last line he wrote tell us? Are they together forever? I think a marriage between those two may not be the happiest of marri..."

I prefer the last line as it was published. A great cliff-hanger! Which makes me wonder if Dickens was the first to employ the device. Better than Mitchell's Gone With the Wind.
I would have preferred Dickens's first ending, the very first, where Estella meets the young Pip thinking he was older Pip's son. I couldn't agree with you more in your comparison of endings...Dickens did it better than Mitchell (still LOVED GwtW) in any of the given endings.

My own speculation, based on Estella's words, is that she still has no interest in Pip as a suitor, and he's still too obsessed and thick-headed to smell the coffee.
I used to see him this way, Mary Lou, but now I see him as "very" nostalgic and sentimental. Estella is his first love, and who forgets their first love...Ever?

As for Biddy and Joe, bless them, thank God Pip didn't tell Joe his intentions! We can be sure Joe would never have married her if he thought Pip wanted her, regardless of Biddy's desires.I think Biddy knew who the better man was. While she may have once harbored notions of being with Pip, she's got too good a head on her shoulders to have made him her companion for life.
True on all accounts.


message 31: by Ami (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ami | 372 comments Peter wrote: "Chapter 58

Yes, we are very near the end of GE and I too, like you Kim, am humbled and thankful that we are all still together. The Curiosities have had quite the journey recently.

Pumblechook t..."

Marriages all around and Pip remaining alone
Peter, I had not realized this...What a great observation! There are those who are "alone," but are not "lonely;" however, this is not the case for Pip, is it? He's always in the company of others, at present living with Herbert and Clara; although he remembers Estella, he's not as "hungry" for her that I see. As I've mentioned in a previous post, he just seems so tired to me calling himself an old bachelor. His lust for life reminds me of Frodo Baggins upon his return to the shire at the end of The Return of the King...Both characters ready for peace however it manifests itself.

Pip's arrogance is gone, and his pride in himself has now been tempered with both physical and emotional pain.
A nice slice of humble pie (losing his fortune), and finding somebody like Magwitch to show him humility, cut Pip's arrogance to pieces.

If we take the last paragraph of the second ending we can make a reasonable assumption that they will be together and that their life will be one of both challenge and fulfillment.
But isn't this a true depiction of a relationship, in general? I recently read Turgenev's Fathers and Sons; in it he writes about the relationships between fathers and sons, friends and lovers...The ups and downs, the happiness and sadness, the strife and peace each type of relationship experiences. It's life.


Peter | 3033 comments Mod
Ami wrote: "Peter wrote: "Chapter 58

Yes, we are very near the end of GE and I too, like you Kim, am humbled and thankful that we are all still together. The Curiosities have had quite the journey recently.
..."

Hi Ami

First. Thank you for your thoughtful and reasoned analysis. Re: your last observation concerning Turgenev et. al. I agree completely with your summary ... "It's life." While I enjoy all of Dickens immensely, GE seems to be an outlier. The narrator is candid. At times we as readers didn't seem to like him much. The second ending is ambiguous which allows us to decide what happens rather than the earlier novels which gave us comedic endings.

The original ending is clearly not a happy ever after ending. It is, however, an honest and more believable ending. As you say, it's life.


Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "The original ending is clearly not a happy ever after ending. It is, however, an honest and more believable ending. As you say, it's life. ."

I agree. It's a much stronger ending, and is what Dickens was leading up to throughout the novel. That he was persuaded to substitute the sweeter ending which didn't fit at all with the rest of the novel just shows that he was willing to put lucre over art.

It's almost as bad as turning Scrooge good in the last pages. Both are artistic abominations.


message 34: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5700 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "It's almost as bad as turning Scrooge good in the last pages. Both are artistic abominations."

You just can't help yourself can you? It must be some sort of mental condition. A bad one. :-)


Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments It ok, Kim! It's merely Christmas withdrawal symptoms in this case. I'm sure that you'll be able to provide him with enough seasonal cheer so that he can happily greet Christmas with 'Come, they told me ...' and 'Deck the Halls ...' :p


message 36: by Kim (last edited May 23, 2017 02:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5700 comments Mod
Hilary wrote: "It ok, Kim! It's merely Christmas withdrawal symptoms in this case. I'm sure that you'll be able to provide him with enough seasonal cheer so that he can happily greet Christmas with 'Come, they to..."

This should help.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_GwS...


Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "This should help."

Tree killers. Murderers of innocent firs. This is what you celebrate. Horrible!


message 38: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5700 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "Kim wrote: "This should help."

Tree killers. Murderers of innocent firs. This is what you celebrate. Horrible!"


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t71X4...


Everyman | 829 comments Mod
My Hero!


message 40: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 5700 comments Mod
:-)


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