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Great Expectations
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Charles Dickens Collection > Great Expectations-Spoilers

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message 1: by Bob, Short Story Classics (last edited Jul 29, 2014 07:25AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob | 4913 comments Mod
Great Expectations is our August 2014 Old School read. Renato has agreed to being the discussion leader. This thread will contain Spoilers!!


Renato (renatomrocha) I'm curious to know people's thoughts on Chapter 8!


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

The hanging vision seemed partly to stem from Pip's distress from the events of that afternoon. Who wouldn't be totally freaked after meeting some creepy rich lady in an ancient wedding dress?? I also thought it might be symbolic of Miss Havisham's self-destruction; she is alive but then isn't really living.

Since I have read the book, I will say that Chapter 8 really is the beginning of an important plot point. Bits and pieces of Miss Havisham's past and the motivation behind her odd behavior will be revealed later.


message 4: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob | 4913 comments Mod
I read that section twice and can come up with no better explanation the Matt and Lisa.

A young boy overwhelmed and stressed.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments I also thought it might be symbolic of Miss Havisham's self-destruction; she is alive but then isn't really living.

Good point! She's technically alive, but in many ways "died" years ago. Even Pip as young as he is can probably sense that, and his nerves make his imagination work overtime.

I can't imagine living the way Miss Havisham does for all those years.


message 6: by Kelly B (last edited Aug 03, 2014 04:29PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments I finished the book this afternoon. This post will contain many spoilers including the ending, so read at your own peril:-).

I liked this book. I thought it was atmospheric, and with enough plot to keep me interested. It did start to drag a bit for me by the end, especially the parts that were predictable.

There were several parts that came as a surprise to me. I didn't expect Purvis to end up being Estella's father. I also didn't expect Joe and Biddy to marry. I was pleasantly surprised when they did. To have Biddy and Pip end up together would have been too sentimental and predictable.

I liked the ending. Pip is doing okay, but never does find the love of his life. Not at all the sappy ending I thought would be typical of Dickens.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments Renato wrote: "I'm curious to know people's thoughts on Chapter 8!"

I thought Miss Havisham very eccentric, and very rich to be able to live as strangely as she does!

It's funny when the annoying Pumblechook isn't invited in.


Renato (renatomrocha) I agree with all your opinions, guys! I especially liked Lisa's observation about the symbolism of the hanging vision.

Another thing that crossed my mind about Miss Havisham's episodes and their odd and eccentric atmosphere: we're dealing here with a 1st person narrator, so there's a big chance he's unreliable. I don't know how far the story goes or if it will cover Pip's adulthood as well, but if we're looking at an adult narrating his childhood as opposed to a child doing it, I guess he could be remembering the facts a little more 'magical' than they really were, what is pretty common when we reminisce about that phase in our lives.

Do you know what I mean?


message 9: by Kelly B (last edited Aug 03, 2014 06:30PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments I do know what you mean:-).

(Possible spoilers to follow)

Having finished the book, I don't think that's the case here though. Pip seems to be a reliable narrator through out the book. Plus, other characters also have the same reactions to Miss Havisham and her eccentric ways. And, Miss Havisham lives that way for many years, so Pip sees her like that when he's an adult too.


Renato (renatomrocha) Thanks for clearing that up, Kelly!

I thought of that because I found everything revolving Miss Havisham a little too much... from her eccentric ways, to the fight Pip had in the yard, to the old wedding cake...


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments I thought of that because I found everything revolving Miss Havisham a little too much... from her eccentric ways, to the fight Pip had in the yard, to the old wedding cake...

It was a bit over the top, wasn't it? I figured that was just typical Dickens.

One thing that occured to me about Miss Havisham is that wouldn't the wedding cake be totally disintegrated after eighteen years? It seems like the mice and bugs would've eaten in years ago:-).

I also wondered if Miss Havisham ever took off that wedding dress to bathe or to have it washed. If not, imagine the stench in that closed-up room;-)!


Renato (renatomrocha) LOL exactly, Kelly! That's why I imagined Pip was remembering things a little darker than they really were.


message 13: by Bob, Short Story Classics (last edited Aug 06, 2014 10:47AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob | 4913 comments Mod
"So, throughout life, our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for the sake of people whom we most despise."

I'm not sure I agree with this. I think Pip is embarrassed by Joe because he's a little ashamed of his roots, not because he holds Drummle in contempt.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments I'm not sure I agree with this. I think Pip is embarrassed by Joe because he's a little ashamed of his roots, not because he holds Drummle in contempt.

I think it's a little of both. Pip is embarrassed by his roots, but I think it's made worse by the way he perceives Drummle views him. Pip can imagine how Drummle would see Joe.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments Speaking of Drummle, Dickens seemed to make him an over-the-top epitome of a gentleman: born rich, spoiled rotten, a total snob.

I can see why middle class Victorians would have found Great Expectations so appealing. There's a strong undercurrent of poking fun at the gentry, or making them disagreeable characters. Drummle, Miss Havisham, and Estella all come off as self-absorbed snobs. Then there's Mrs. Pocket: portrayed as useless because she was raised to think so highly of herself she's not good for much of anything;-). I thought the scene where she's trying to hold her baby during dinner was hilarious.


Renato (renatomrocha) I'm only up to chapter 7, Vol. 2.

I imagined by what I've read so far that Pip would be a little embarrassed by Joe - no situations have come up so far though -, but depending on what happens, I think it'll really bother me as their relationship when Pip was younger always seemed so special and I really enjoyed how Joe seemed to little care about Pip.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments I haven't read the spoilers above bec I just completed ch 29 yesterday where Pip is at dinner at Miss Haveshams with Estella and his caterpillar eye-browed guardian. I just wanted to mention that I'm finding Pip as an adult in London to be a snooze-fest. The reflections, observations of Pip the child were more interesting. Pip was more entertaining and funny as a child in his village. Pip in London is not funny.

I just wanted to ask if Pip's character remains boring as an adult for the rest of the book?


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments I just wanted to ask if Pip's character remains boring as an adult for the rest of the book?

I'm probably not the best person to answer this because I didn't find the adult Pip boring, but in general it seemed to me that the adult Pip's personality stays pretty much the same (although his attitude does change a bit).


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments Kelly wrote: "I just wanted to ask if Pip's character remains boring as an adult for the rest of the book?

I'm probably not the best person to answer this because I didn't find the adult Pip boring, but in gen..."


Well, I'll just keep on reading!


message 20: by Kelly B (last edited Aug 08, 2014 08:03PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments Why do you guys think Pip's sister was so unpleasant?

Joe was a decent guy, Pip a good kid, although they weren't well off by any means they always had food on the table, Joe's forge, and the infamous parlor;-). Yet the sister didn't seem to appreciate what they had, and was so cruel to both Joe and Pip.


message 21: by Kelly B (last edited Aug 08, 2014 08:21PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments Well, I just realized I totally misinterpreted the ending. I was on schmoop.com (great website for summaries, themes, and the like if you're confused by a classic novel, as I often am;-), and read the summary of the ending. I had it wrong! Totally wrong. Thanks to one little sentence, I got the wrong impression.

I'll be interested to see what everyone else makes of the ending!


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments I've just read the part of the big reveal that that convict, now a crazy-looking old man is Pips benefactor. Did anyone see this coming? I certainly didn't. Miss Havesham was a really well-done red-herring. I wasn't sure that Miss H was the benefactor.

I disliked Estelle. Now feel sorry for her. I never thought that she was a match for Pip.

I think Pip is just awful to Joe. Pip seems to have burned his bridge there. If he does not want to keep accepting the convict's support, I don't see how Pip can go home to Joe since he's treated Joe so poorly.


message 23: by Kelly B (last edited Aug 09, 2014 07:14AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments I've just read the part of the big reveal that that convict, now a crazy-looking old man is Pips benefactor. Did anyone see this coming? I certainly didn't. Miss Havesham was a really well-done red-herring. I wasn't sure that Miss H was the benefactor.

I suspected the benefactor could be the convict, just because I knew he'd show up again in the story sooner or later, and I couldn't figure out where else he would fit in. I also thought it would be a good twist to have the benefactor be someone other than Miss H.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments I'm into ch 50. Did anyone realize that "Provis" was to be Estelle's father? I didn't see that coming either.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments I'll have to read on, but I can't see Estelle being happy about her parentage.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments Provis being the father took me totally by surprise. Same with the lawyer's housekeeper being her mother.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments What did you guys think about Pip's decision to keep Estelle's parentage a secret? On one hand, I could understand not telling her: it would have been a shock, and she maybe would rather not know since she's "upper class". On the other hand, it seems like she should have the right to know who her birth parents are, especially since Miss H. wasn't exactly very maternal. Since Estella's birth Mom is still alive, maybe E would want to meet her (doubtful, but you never know).


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments I agree with Pips decision to keep mum to Estelle about her parentage. It's true Estelle was " adopted " for good or for ill by crazy Miss H.

Even if a reader believes that Estelle had a right to know her true parentage, this knowledge would have done her no good. This news would have been distressing since she, Estelle married someone who is elevated where class is concerned. Awful Drmmle would have held her "low origins " against her. No good could have come out of this big reveal for Estella.


message 29: by Andrea AKA Catsos Person (last edited Aug 12, 2014 08:42AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments I was surprised by the ending . CD does wrap things up, but I would have thought that Pip would have had a more definite HEA. The title created that expectation in me. CD tied things up, but he didn't have tie them up in a beautiful shiny new package, did he?

In the end, Pip is just ok. He's mended things with Joe and Biddy, he has an occupation--the means to earn wages and good friends in Herbert and in Mrs Herbert Pocket. I don't really count Estella's friendship as adding anything to Pip's HEA. (That did not come).

I hope I'm not using this term incorrectly. But I saw chapters that wrapped things up as a denouement and not as an HEA.


message 30: by Lesley (last edited Aug 12, 2014 04:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lesley | 46 comments I also was confused by the ending. I thought they agreed to be friends but apart, though their shadow didn't part. Thanks for the heads up on schmoop.com Kelly. I'm also wondering why Pip's sister was angry.
I thought Biddy and Joe might get together.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments @ Lesley

I too thought that Biddy and Joe might make a. "Go" of it.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments What confused me about the ending was when Estella says, "We'll continue to be friends apart". I thought that meant they could be friends of a sort, but never actually see each other...be friends in mind only.

Then, on schmoop, it mentions the thing with the shadows being together, and that Dickens meant that to imply that Estella and Pip end up together! Which I totally missed the first time I read it.

I think I prefer an ending where they aren't together. I can't imagine a marriage between them being very happy.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments I, too, thought that Pip and Biddy would end up together. I thought it was funny in an ironic way when she marries Joe. Just desserts for the way Pip treated both of them when he was a gentleman.


message 34: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob | 4913 comments Mod
If the original ending as listed in schmoop.com is correct, I think it should not have been changed. What's passed is past and if you do come across an old flame 10 to 15 years in the future. You don't end up walking away together to be blissfully happy. The more realistic outcome for this story is that Estella would be married.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments Kelly wrote: "What confused me about the ending was when Estella says, "We'll continue to be friends apart". I thought that meant they could be friends of a sort, but never actually see each other...be friends i..."

I have not looked at Shmoop, but I did not take the ending to imply that Pip and Estella would end up together. I can't imagine the two of them in a happy marriage.


message 36: by Kelly B (last edited Aug 12, 2014 11:32AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments If the original ending as listed in schmoop.com is correct, I think it should not have been changed. What's passed is past and if you do come across an old flame 10 to 15 years in the future. You don't end up walking away together to be blissfully happy. The more realistic outcome for this story is that Estella would be married.

I agree! I like the original ending better, too.


Lesley | 46 comments I agree too. I don't think they (Pip and Estella) would be happy together. I thought Pip would go back to his comfortable work and ruminate on life that way.


Renato (renatomrocha) I just finished the book and I have to say that volume 3 completely amazed me. The way Dickens tied up everything together was really well done.

About the ending: I don't see why Pip and Estella couldn't be happy together. They both went through a lot and seemed to have come out of their experiences as better individuals.

I have to get my thoughts in line so I can properly write a review later and discuss things better!


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments About the ending: I don't see why Pip and Estella couldn't be happy together. They both went through a lot and seemed to have come out of their experiences as better individuals.

I felt that Estella was essentially such a cold person (not her own fault, thanks to the way Miss H raised her) that she would be a very difficult person to be married to. I can't picture anyone she would be actually happy with.

Also I felt that Pip would always resent her for the way she treated him. Plus, Pip says all along that he isn't happy when he's with Estella, although he does love her. I think there would be just too many bad memories and personality differences for them to be happy together.

Oh, and I think Estella would always look down on Pip for his humble beginings and because he doesn't have much money. Presumably the two of them would be mostly living off Estella's money.


message 40: by Renato (last edited Aug 14, 2014 12:22PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Renato (renatomrocha) But isn't that assuming that they haven't changed at all after more than 11 years of being apart? Estella and Pip interacted more in their childhood and then on their early twenties. With almost 40, we don't know the people they turned out to be.

Take Estella, for example. Yes, she was cold and a snob - but after her relationship with Drummle, I think we can assume she experienced at least some growth.

I think Dickens was hinting that she also had changed as a person - as we had already witnessed Pip's evolution (the way his relationship with Provis changed, his repentance of the way he acted with Joe and Biddy) - in this quote:
what I had never seen before, was the saddened, softened light of the once proud eyes; what I had never felt before was the friendly touch of the once insensible hand.



Renato (renatomrocha) I just realized it may seem I'm saying I prefer the ending where they end up together. That's not the case: I actually prefer the original ending - but I do still stand by the words I said before, that maybe they could be happy together.


message 42: by Kelly B (last edited Aug 14, 2014 02:35PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments But isn't that assuming that they haven't changed at all after more than 11 years of being apart? Estella and Pip interacted more in their childhood and then on their early twenties. With almost 40, we don't know the people they turned out to be.

Take Estella, for example. Yes, she was cold and a snob - but after her relationship with Drummle, I think we can assume she experienced at least some growth.


With the little glimpse of her we see at the end, it's hard to say how much she's changed, if at all. Hopefully she's grown up at least a little bit, and broadened her views. I still think though that there would be too much bad history for it to be a good marriage.


message 43: by Susan from MD (last edited Aug 16, 2014 09:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan from MD | 17 comments Just finished the book last night and I can see merit in both endings. Interestingly, I didn't take it for granted that they would live happily ever after and was a bit surprised to see it interpreted that way. I thought the "linked shadows" reference was more about the fact that, on some level, they would always be linked through their shared experience of Miss Haversham - it would always be in the background.

I tend to like ambiguous endings, so the current ending works for me in that regard. I can see it go three ways - I haven't decided which I like best:

1. After their meeting, Pip returns to his life and Estella marries someone else - this is pretty much the original ending; they are not really part of each other's lives.

2. After Pip and Estella part at Satis House, he goes back to his job/life and she comes to visit him; they become re-acquainted and get married several years later.

3. Somewhere in the middle ... they don't marry but are able to reconcile, clear the air and move forward. They may exchange letters or even become friends. He goes back to his life; not sure what happens to her, but perhaps she visits him and travels.

Which of these happens depends upon how much they both have changed from their young, spoiled selves and how willing they are to forgive each other. I think Pip could have a relationship with her - romantic or friendship - because he seems to have grown up and moved forward. He understands that class and status are not what's really important; he realizes that he has good people in his life and that he can make his own way. In their brief encounter, Estella seemed like she has changed, too - 11 years is a long time, particularly when living in a difficult situation.

I think #3 is my favorite option because they share such an odd experience that they could help and understand each other. People can change and grow and choose to be better - my happy ending is that Pip and Estella are able to do that.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments @Susan from MD

Your three scenarios/outcomes are very interesting, but I think that I agree with Kelly.

Despite experiencing hardship in her marriage, that could have possibly change her outlook on people, people were still very concerned with class and family connections at the time of the story. I don't think a bad marriage is going to change Estelle's outlook on rank, class and family origins. I think eleven years and a terrible marriage can change some things about Estella--a willingness to call Pip (of low origins and no fortune) a friend, but not a marital partner.


message 45: by Susan from MD (last edited Aug 16, 2014 12:51PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan from MD | 17 comments Andrea (Catsos Person) wrote: "@Susan from MD

Your three scenarios/outcomes are very interesting, but I think that I agree with Kelly.

Despite experiencing hardship in her marriage, that could have possibly change her outlook..."


Well, since only 1/3 of my options had them marrying - and only then after several years of getting to know each other - I don't think we're disagreeing.

I think the only way they could get together is after they have essentially started anew and put their past differences behind them. They both know that they were manipulated, so it's possible that they could move forward. My sense is that if they are able to move forward "together", then it would more likely be a loose friendship - sort of exchanging Christmas cards or something - rather than marriage. But who knows? It's fun to think about the possibilities.

I don't think we know enough about the "new" Estella at the end to know what is important to her or what her views are. One of the lessons of the book, IMO, is that people can change and they can learn to value different things. Whether Estella changes or not depends upon the reader's willingness to accept it, as we are not told the extent of those changes. The "once proud eyes" and the "friendly touch of the once insensible hand" mentioned above tells me that she has made enough of a start to give her the benefit of the doubt.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments It is indeed fun to speculate!


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments There are a few times in the book when Pip mentions he wishes he had never known Miss H and Estella, because then he would've been content with his original lot in life (working at the forge, possibly marrying Biddy someday). Do you guys agree with Pip? Would he have been better off not having "great expectations"?


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments I think Pip would have been better off
w / o his "great expectations."

I think he was better off living as a blacksmith as a partner with Joe when he completed his training then and marrying Biddy or someone else to working as a clerk.

I think after living the lifestyle that he did with Provis' anonymous sponsorship will leave him dissatisfied as a clerk.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments I think so too. I think he would have been happy working at the forge and marrying Biddy if he didn't have the experience of being the gentleman, and meeting Estella.


Renato (renatomrocha) I think I disagree. It almost feels like saying he should conform to his "destiny" and not experience what else is out there...


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