Quotes Find the quotes you need to support your essay, or refresh your memory of the book by reading these key quotes. Important Quotations Explained. Further Study Test your knowledge of Great Expectations with our quizzes and study questions, or go further with essays on context, background, and movie adaptations, plus links to the best resources around the web.
Writing Help Get ready to write your paper on Great Expectations with our suggested essay topics, sample essays, and more. Purchase on BN. 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! 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. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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. View all 61 comments. Jan 17, Sean Barrs the Bookdragon rated it it was amazing Shelves: love-and-romance , 5-star-reads , classics. 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 he "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. 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.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
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. 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.
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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. 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 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. 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.
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.
I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape. 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. 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. 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. View all 18 comments. Sep 10, Stephen rated it it was amazing Shelves: literature , classics , s , easton-press , classics-european , audiobook. Great Expectations …were formed The votes have been tallied , all doubts have been answered and it is official and in the books 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. My sister, Mrs. 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 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. 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 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. 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. View all 71 comments. Jan 04, Matt rated it liked it Shelves: classic-novels.
Admittedly, I can be a bit dismissive of the classics. By which I mean that many of my reviews resemble a drive-by shooting. Even though I should expect some blowback, I still get a little defensive. I console myself with the belief that I have relatively decent taste. 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? 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. 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. What if they are wrong? Am I the only one who thinks it possible that true greatness lies within Twilight?
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 least, that was my experience. 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.
Great Expectations was one of the first classics to which I returned.
Returned with a shudder, I might add. 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. The central character, the first person narrator, is an orphan surprise!
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. 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 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. 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 Nevertheless, Pip falls in love with Estella.
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. 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.
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. 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. 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. Great Expectations involves a bit of a twist. If it is possible to spoil something published in The bigger and messier the better. 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. View all 23 comments.
Henry Le Nav I love your reviews. You have this amazing ability to describe exactly what I feel about a book better than I could describe it. I love the conspiracy I love your reviews. I love the conspiracy theory. You are absolutely correct the classics and stuff like Beowulf, Shakespeare, and poetry are definitely the keys to a club that wanted those of my ilk to remain firmly in the camp that regarded the works of Ian Fleming as high art and the sound track to Goldfinger as an orchestral masterpiece.
This stuff also exists to give Jeopardy players and Alex with the wisdom of the ages through his magical earpiece this grandiose intelligence. These people can tell you the color of Othello's bedroom but often have no idea what a quark is, none-the-less I am sufficiently cowed to realize what stupid bastard I am when these folks answer arcane questions about Broadway plays that I have never heard of.
That and the fact that I am pretty sure that the producers are shaving out time slices between the end of the question and the pressing of the signaling button, and maybe between the signal button and the answer take the number of questions on Jeopardy, 60, and multiply them by milliseconds and by jove you got yourself time for another 30 second commercial has me convinced that I am ready for the home.
But here is the thing, that conspiracy is not limited to the classics and English majors. You are obviously a clever guy you graduated from law school but I faced these very same cabals in math, music, and foreign languages. Yep I followed the problems fine up to problem 9, then 11 got kind of hard, and 13 was written in Chinese. I had a math teacher at community U tell me that my presence in this institution was denying a more deserving student a spot and that I should immediately quit college and join the military. Well gee if I am that stupid, I probably should have got a draft deferment--this moron is going to get someone killed.
In 7th grade, the agent for the cabal in music gave the class a 5 minute prediction of my future life in the gutter or prison based on my inability to properly identify a G clef. She was almost right, my wife saved me from the gutter. Prison was a bit ambitious for me. It wasn't until I took a music appreciation class because it was cake in college, that I realized that I do have a love for some classical music. I didn't have to carry a tune singing such hits as the Ash Grove or Fifteen Years on The Eire Canal, or know the difference between a half note and quarter note.
This is Beethoven's 5th. This is Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade. Yes cake, but also enjoyable. Anyhow when I was in junior high and high school, I was forced to read Great Expectations times. Oh wait that part of my life only spanned 6 years.
See a Problem?
Only 6! Wow, it seemed much longer. OK maybe I only read it three times. It seemed every year we read Great Expectation yet again. Yes it saved us from Silas Marner or Dostoyevsky but still at that age Great Expectations would bad one time around. Having arrived at the threshold of the golden plated years, I am feeling the first cool breezes of my mortality blowing on my neck, and decided now that I had a Kindle Fire that can narrate an Audible book and display the text in a Kindle book simultaneously Amazon calls it immersion reading and they often cut substantial discounts on Audible books if you buy the Kindle book first especially on the classics , that along with all the other crap I read I should throw in a few classics.
So I tried Jane Eyre. Grand success. With the narration and reading at the same time, I found that after a short adjustment to the fussy language, hey you can actually enjoy these books! Jane Eyre was a paragon of brevity and clarity in comparison. But still with the narration, and a huge adjustment for fussy and murky language not bad.
I have often read that Dickens was paid by the word, I believe this. Reading a Dickens novel is something like taking a cab from Washington Square in Manhattan to Central Park and you find yourself riding about Brooklyn and Queens. Yeah you are really out of your way, but wow, did you get a tour of the city. Well one nice thing about reading the classics as an adult, you don't have to write a theme paper about it. Great review Matt, as always. Oh yes, I agree entirely that the statute of limitations for spoilers on any book that you can buy for 99 cents at Amazon has probably expired last century.
Alicia Ehrhardt I had the good fortune to read Great Expectations because I wanted to, because it way on a shelf somewhere in our house or my grandparents' house - in I had the good fortune to read Great Expectations because I wanted to, because it way on a shelf somewhere in our house or my grandparents' house - in Mexico City.
I had lived in Southern California until, at 7, my parents dragged me to Mexico City - and had been reading in English for years when it all dried up. I craved stories in English, and it's a family story that a friend told my parents I could borrow The Complete Sherlock Holmes in two volumes if I walked over to get it some 15 blocks , which I did.
Bawled my eyes out at the end of the first book, then remembered there was another! I loved the Dickens - it was long! And kept me entertained for days. So I swallowed it the same way the readers of the original did, turning the pages as fast as they were available.
I might have been eleven. I read Jane Eyre that way, and anything else my dad brought back from business trips Ian Fleming's James Bond was a favorite. No analysis - none of this was for school, which was in Spanish. Just everything - as long as it was in English. Big fat anthologies of American and English Literature, which were intended for high school and college my grandmother had been a teacher. They saved me. I read everything I could understand. Shelves: classics. 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. View all 57 comments. 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 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 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 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 A "person" that cannot be forgotten. View all 12 comments. 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 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! Find more of my books on Instagram 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? 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. 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 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.
View all 28 comments. 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 mysel It is almost hard to believe that Dickens stays the same when you read him on several occasions in your life.
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. View all 32 comments. Jul 31, Lyn rated it really liked it. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens' first person narration centers on the formation and social development of the inimical English character Pip. Set in and around London in the early s, 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. Perhaps the most intriguing is the escaped convict, Abel Magwitch, a complex man who Dickens brings to understandable life.
There's a charming piece of music by Handel, called the Harmonious Blacksmith. Pip's name throughout binds him to his origins. A central theme here, as in other of Dickens's novels, is of people living as social outcasts. The novel opening emphasises this in the case of the orphaned Pip, who lives in an isolated foggy environment next to a graveyard, dangerous swamps, and prison ships. His very existence reproaches him: "I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born in opposition to the dictates of reason, religion and morality".
Pip feels excluded by society and this leads to his aggressive attitude towards it, as he tries to win his place within society through any means. Various other characters behave similarly—that is, the oppressed become the oppressors. Jaggers dominates Wemmick, who in turn dominates Jaggers's clients. However, hope exists despite Pip's sense of exclusion  because he is convinced that divine providence owes him a place in society and that marriage to Estella is his destiny. Therefore, when fortune comes his way, Pip shows no surprise, because he believes, that his value as a human being, and his inherent nobility, have been recognized.
Thus Pip accepts Pumblechook's flattery without blinking: "That boy is no common boy"  and the "May I? May I? From Pip's hope comes his "uncontrollable, impossible love for Estella",  despite the humiliations to which she has subjected him. For Pip, winning a place in society also means winning Estella's heart. When the money secretly provided by Magwitch enables Pip to enter London society, two new related themes, wealth and gentility, are introduced.
As the novel's title implies money is a theme of Great Expectations. Central to this is the idea that wealth is only acceptable to the ruling class if it comes from the labour of others. Her wealth is "pure", and her father's profession as a brewer does not contaminate it. Herbert states in chapter 22 that "while you cannot possibly be genteel and bake, you may be as genteel as never was and brew. She remains in a constant business relationship with her lawyer Jaggers and keeps a tight grip over her "court" of sycophants, so that, far from representing social exclusion, she is the very image of a powerful landed aristocracy that is frozen in the past and "embalmed in its own pride".
On the other hand, Magwitch's wealth is socially unacceptable, firstly because he earned it, not through the efforts of others, but through his own hard work, and secondly because he was a convict, and he earned it in a penal colony. It is argued that the contrast with Miss Havisham's wealth is suggested symbolically. Thus Magwitch's money smells of sweat, and his money is greasy and crumpled: "two fat sweltering one-pound notes that seemed to have been on terms of the warmest intimacy with all the cattle market in the country",  while the coins Miss Havisham gives for Pip's "indentures" shine as if new.
Further, it is argued Pip demonstrates his "good breeding", because when he discovers that he owes his transformation into a "gentleman" to such a contaminated windfall, he is repulsed in horror. Cockshut, however, has suggested that there is no difference between Magwitch's wealth and that of Miss Havisham's. Trotter emphasizes the importance of Magwitch's greasy banknotes. Beyond the Pip's emotional reaction the notes reveal that Dickens' views on social and economic progress have changed in the years prior to the publication of Great Expectations.
To illustrate his point, he cites Humphry House who, succinctly, writes that in Pickwick Papers , "a bad smell was a bad smell", whereas in Our Mutual Friend and Great Expectations , "it is a problem". At the time of The Great Exhibition of , Dickens and Richard Henry Horne an editor of Household Words wrote an article comparing the British technology that created The Crystal Palace to the few artifacts exhibited by China: England represented an openness to worldwide trade and China isolationism.
According to Trotter, this was a way to target the Tory government's return to protectionism , which they felt would make England the China of Europe. In fact, Household Words' 17 May issue, championed international free trade , comparing the constant flow of money to the circulation of the blood.
With Great Expectations , Dickens's views about wealth have changed. However, though some sharp satire exists, no character in the novel has the role of the moralist that condemn Pip and his society. In fact, even Joe and Biddy themselves, paragons of good sense, are complicit, through their exaggerated innate humility, in Pip's social deviancy.
Dickens' moral judgement is first made through the way that he contrasts characters: only a few characters keep to the straight and narrow path; Joe, whose values remain unchanged; Matthew Pocket whose pride renders him, to his family's astonishment, unable to flatter his rich relatives; Jaggers, who keeps a cool head and has no illusions about his clients; Biddy, who overcomes her shyness to, from time to time, bring order.
The narrator-hero is left to draw the necessary conclusions: in the end, Pip finds the light and embarks on a path of moral regeneration. In London, neither wealth nor gentility brings happiness. Pip, the apprentice gentleman constantly bemoans his anxiety, his feelings of insecurity,  and multiple allusions to overwhelming chronic unease, to weariness, drown his enthusiasm chapter His unusual path to gentility has the opposite effect to what he expected: infinite opportunities become available, certainly, but will power, in proportion, fades and paralyses the soul.
In the crowded metropolis, Pip grows disenchanted, disillusioned, and lonely. Alienated from his native Kent, he has lost the support provided by the village blacksmith. In London, he is powerless to join a community, not the Pocket family, much less Jaggers's circle. London has become Pip's prison and, like the convicts of his youth, he is bound in chains: "no Satis House can be built merely with money". The idea of "good breeding" and what makes for a "gentleman" other than money.
The convict Magwitch covets it by proxy through Pip; Mrs Pocket dreams of acquiring it; it is also found in Pumblechook's sycophancy; it is even seen in Joe, when he stammers between "Pip" and "Sir" during his visit to London, and when Biddy's letters to Pip suddenly become reverent. There are other characters who are associated with the idea of gentility like, for example, Miss Havisham's seducer, Compeyson, the scarred-face convict. While Compeyson is corrupt, even Magwitch does not forget he is a gentleman. There are a couple of ways by which someone can acquire gentility, one being a title, another family ties to the upper middle class.
Mrs Pocket bases every aspiration on the fact that her grandfather failed to be knighted, while Pip hopes that Miss Havisham will eventually adopt him, as adoption, as evidenced by Estella, who behaves like a born and bred little lady, is acceptable. Pip knows that and endorses it, as he hears from Jaggers through Matthew Pocket: "I was not designed for any profession, and I should be well enough educated for my destiny if I could hold my own with the average of young men in prosperous circumstances". Bentley Drummle, however, embodies the social ideal, so that Estella marries him without hesitation.
In chapter 39, the novel's turning point, Magwitch visits Pip to see the gentleman he has made, and once the convict has hidden in Herbert Pocket's room, Pip realises his situation:. For an hour or more, I remained too stunned to think; and it was not until I began to think, that I began fully to know how wrecked I was, and how the ship in which I had sailed was gone to pieces.
Miss Havisham's intentions towards me, all a mere dream; Estella not designed for me But, sharpest and deepest pain of all — it was for the convict, guilty of I knew not what crimes, and liable to be taken out of those rooms where I sat thinking, and hanged at the Old Bailey door, that I had deserted Joe. To cope with his situation and his learning that he now needs Magwitch, a hunted, injured man who traded his life for Pip's. Pip can only rely on the power of love for Estella  Pip now goes through a number of different stages each of which, is accompanied by successive realisations about the vanity of the prior certainties.
Pip's problem is more psychological and moral than social. Pip's climbing of the social ladder upon gaining wealth is followed by a corresponding degradation of his integrity. Thus after his first visit in Miss Havisham, the innocent young boy from the marshes, suddenly turns into a liar to dazzle his sister, Mrs Joe, and his Uncle Pumblechook with the tales of a carriage and veal chops. The allure of wealth overpowers loyalty and gratitude, even conscience itself. This is evidenced by the urge to buy Joe's return, in chapter 27, Pip's haughty glance as Joe deciphers the alphabet, not to mention the condescending contempt he confesses to Biddy, copying Estella's behaviour toward him.
Pip represents, as do those he mimics, the bankruptcy of the "idea of the gentleman", and becomes the sole beneficiary of vulgarity, inversely proportional to his mounting gentility. The boy parades through the main street of the village with boyish antics and contortions meant to satirically imitate Pip. The gross, comic caricature openly exposes the hypocrisy of this new gentleman in a frock coat and top hat. Trabb's boy reveals that appearance has taken precedence over being, protocol on feelings, decorum on authenticity; labels reign to the point of absurdity, and human solidarity is no longer the order of the day.
Estella and Miss Havisham represent rich people who enjoy a materially easier life but cannot cope with a tougher reality. Miss Havisham, like a melodramatic heroine, withdrew from life at the first sign of hardship. Estella, excessively spoiled and pampered, sorely lacks judgement and falls prey to the first gentleman who approaches her, though he is the worst. Estella's marriage to such a brute demonstrates the failure of her education. Estella is used to dominating but becomes a victim to her own vice, brought to her level by a man born, in her image.
Dickens uses imagery to reinforce his ideas and London, the paradise of the rich and of the ideal of the gentleman, has mounds of filth, it is crooked, decrepit, and greasy, a dark desert of bricks, soot, rain, and fog. The surviving vegetation is stunted, and confined to fenced-off paths, without air or light. Barnard's Inn, where Pip lodges, offers mediocre food and service while the rooms, despite the furnishing provided, as Suhamy states, "for the money", is most uncomfortable, a far cry from Joe's large kitchen, radiating hearth, and his well-stocked pantry.
Likewise, such a world, dominated by the lure of money and social prejudice, also leads to the warping of people and morals, to family discord and war between man and woman. Another important theme is Pip's sense of guilt, which he has felt from an early age. After the encounter with the convict Magwitch, Pip is afraid that someone will find out about his crime and arrest him. The theme of guilt comes into even greater effect when Pip discovers that his benefactor is a convict. Pip has an internal struggle with his conscience throughout Great Expectations , hence the long and painful process of redemption that he undergoes.
Pip's moral regeneration is a true pilgrimage punctuated by suffering.
Like Christian in Bunyan 's The Pilgrim's Progress , Pip makes his way up to light through a maze of horrors that afflict his body as well as his mind. This includes the burns he suffers from saving Miss Havisham from the fire; the illness that requires months of recovery; the threat of a violent death at Orlick's hands; debt, and worse, the obligation of having to repay them; hard work, which he recognises as the only worthy source of income, hence his return to Joe's forge.
Even more important, is his accepting of Magwitch, a coarse outcast of society. Dickens makes use of symbolism, in chapter 53, to emphasise Pip's moral regeneration. As he prepares to go down the Thames to rescue the convict, a veil lifted from the river and Pip's spirit. Symbolically the fog which enveloped the marshes as Pip left for London has finally lifted, and he feels ready to become a man.
As I looked along the clustered roofs, with Church towers and spires shooting into the unusually clear air, the sun rose up, and a veil seemed to be drawn from the river, and millions of sparkles burst out upon its waters. From me too, a veil seemed to be drawn, and I felt strong and well. Pip is redeemed by love, that, for Dickens as for generations of Christian moralists, is only acquired through sacrifice. He grows selfless and his "expectations" are confiscated by the Crown. Moments before Magwitch's death, Pip reveals that Estella, Magwitch's daughter, is alive, "a lady and very beautiful.
And I love her". Pip returns to the forge, his previous state and to meaningful work. The philosophy expressed here by Dickens that of a person happy with their contribution to the welfare of society, is in line with Thomas Carlyle 's theories and his condemnation, in Latter-Day Pamphlets , the system of social classes flourishing in idleness, much like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels did. In Great Expectations , the true values are childhood, youth, and heart. The heroes of the story are the young Pip, a true visionary, and still developing person, open, sensible, who is persecuted by soulless adults.
Then the adolescent Pip and Herbert, imperfect but free, intact, playful, endowed with fantasy in a boring and frivolous world. Magwitch is also a positive figure, a man of heart, victim of false appearances and of social images, formidable and humble, bestial but pure, a vagabond of God, despised by men. Finally, there are women like Biddy. Edward W. Said , in his work Culture and Imperialism , interprets Great Expectations in terms of postcolonial theory about of late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries British imperialism.
Pip's disillusionment when he learns his benefactor is an escaped convict from Australia, along with his acceptance of Magwitch as surrogate father, is described by Said as part of "the imperial process", that is the way colonialism exploits the weaker members of a society. Dickens's novel has influenced a number of writers, Sue Roe's Estella: Her Expectations , for example explores the inner life of an Estella fascinated with a Havisham figure.
Magwitch is the protagonist of Peter Carey 's Jack Maggs , which is a re-imagining of Magwitch's return to England, with the addition, among other things, of a fictionalised Dickens character and plot-line. The winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Lloyd Jones's novel is set in a village on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville during a brutal civil war there in the s, where the young protagonist's life is impacted in a major way by her reading of Great Expectations.
Like many other Dickens novels, Great Expectations has been filmed for the cinema or television and adapted for the stage numerous times. The film adaptation in gained the greatest acclaim. The stage play and the film that followed from that stage production did not include the character Orlick and ends the story when the characters are still young adults. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the Charles Dickens novel.
For other uses, see Great Expectations disambiguation. Novels portal Literature portal. Dickens meant to have left Pip a lonely man, and of course rightly so; by the irony of fate he was induced to spoil his work through a brother novelist's desire for a happy ending, a strange thing, indeed, to befall Dickens. Regents of the University of California.
Retrieved 15 February Great Expectations. I First ed. London: Chapman and Hall. Retrieved 6 January — via Internet Archive. II First ed. III First ed. Archived from the original on 28 October Retrieved 30 October The Carlyle Encyclopedia. Bloom, Harold ed. Charles Dickens. Bloom's Modern Critical Views. New York: Infobase Publishings. Dickens and the Grotesque Revised ed. London: Croom Helm. Retrieved 13 May BBC Culture. Retrieved 8 December April Retrieved 21 December Penguin English Library.
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