Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (1860-1861)


Charles Dickens’ 13th novel, Great Expectations is a tome of a book. The 544 pages follow the narrator/protagonist Pip from early childhood, until later adulthood. Written in a Victorian conversational style, the reader will feel that Pip is recounting his life story, with the benefit of hindsight. Pip is neither hero, nor antihero, but is quite human in his attachments and thoughts. He makes good choices and terrible choices, which direct his life, and through his discussion with the reader, one learns of which choices he is proud and of which he is ashamed. Due to the popularity of the 1990s movie of the same name, one would perhaps believe that the unrequited love of Pip towards Estella is the main premise of the story, however, I did not find this to be true. While his relationship with Estella and Miss Havisham was certainly a driving force in his life, and the one that led to his downfall, I found that the relationships to his uncle Joe, to his sister, to Magwitch, to Wemmick, to Herbert, to Biddy, to Drummle and even to the blunderbuss Pumblechook to be of equal importance as any other. I believe Great Expectations is a social commentary on the class system that prevailed in England; a discussion on fulfilling promises; filial responsibility; personal accountability; realizing that ones expectation and ones reality do not always match, and cannot be forced to do so. This book is long, broken into 3 parts, and I would absolutely recommend to anyone who has a fondness for Victorian literature. Witty, sarcastic, heartbreaking and a wonderful example of Dickens at his best. 

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