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Since I became a Kindle owner, I have been rediscovering classic books that I had previously overlooked and in the process attempting to educate myself a little.
Many of these great classics are available free of charge and legally through the Amazon.co.uk website, and I have been reading and enjoying a wide variety. Having now read Cervantes, Jane Austen, the Brontes, George Eliot and Daniel Defoe, my most recent forray was into the books of Charles Dickens.
Now I have always imagined that I wouldn't like Dickens. This is based on no more evidence than the over exposure of two of his stories; Oliver & A Christmas Carol. These two stories have been done to death on both the little and big screen and have had the same effect on me as overplaying a song on the radio, meaning I just lost interest in anything to do with Dickens.
So it was with some trepidation, and not a little reluctance, that I began to read Great Expectations. I couldn't have been more mistaken! I was drawn into the story from the very first chapter. Charles Dickens is an absolute wordsmith, constructing sentences with precision, poetry and artistry. I enjoyed not only the story, but also the style of the story telling. Examples that charmed me are snippets such as "an unsuccessful application of his knuckles to my door" or "there was a gay fiction amongst us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did" This clever way of succinctly describing the world enchants me and I can only dream of writing with such style and panache.
Young orphan Philip Pirrip, known locally as Pip has been raised since a baby by his cruel and bitter elder sister and her kind long-suffering husband Joe Gargery the local blacksmith. In the first part of the book he experiences several events that have a big impact on his young life and begin to shape his character. Not least of these is his encounter with the strange and haunting heiress Miss Havisham and her young companion Estella, who show Pip a genteel life far removed from his, and teaches him to hanker for more than a mere Blacksmith's apprentice could ever acheive.
When Pip's fortunes unexpectedly change thanks to a mysterious benefactor, our hero, now a young man, goes to live in London under the Guardianship of the wily lawyer,''' Mr Jaggers''' . But a life of idleness and pleasure begin to have an effect on his partially formed and easily influenced character, desptie the loyal and honest friendship of his flatmate Herbert Pocket, and Jagger's Chief Clerk, Wemmick
Pip's life of decadence leads him to make worse and worse choices and neglect the constant people in his life, until, at last, the revelation of his secret benefactor turns his life upside down once more. He is finally forced to face reality and undo some of the wrongs he has done, but will it all be too late.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story had many twists and turns and the characters were rich and interesting, but more than anything I liked the style of Dickens' writing. Although, of course some of the language is dated, the artistry and wit shines through, and many of his truths are universal and ageless. I highly recommend everyone to read this book and I am looking forward to discovering even more of Dicken repetoire.
'Great Expectations' follows the story of an orphan named Pip, as he transitions from a boy who is full of 'great expectations' to a man - entwining fate, mystery and unrequited love, it is a novel that is emotional at times, yet still has resonance in today's society, whilst giving an insight into nineteenth century life as an orphan.
Thoughts / Opinions:
Despite this interesting and inventive plot, it felt as though Dickens was trying too hard with descriptions (although reminiscent of Victorian writing and the origins of the novel in different publications) making some areas pass too slowly. Whilst I do not condemn the novel for this, for younger readers who wish to read Dickens, this may not be the best one to start with.
The tension that builds up throughout makes this novel a great read for someone who is a fan of Dickens, however, it may be too much for some who tend to enjoy an easier read. The characters are mainly loveable with your views on them changing all the while to keep your mind always on the go. The characters, ultimately, make the story the success it is today.
Dickens is an English novelist from the 19th century, providing literature with many significant pieces of great work. Focusing on social status, Dickens' novels have the distinct power to move and translate to new decades.
Great Expectations is an intricate book, full of twists and turns, which would make it quite heavy reading for those new to Victorian literature. As a result of this, I would recommend this to anyone who wants an insight into social status at the time, or who want to delve deeper into the classics that have withstood the test of time.
Great Expectations is one of Charles Dickens' best loved stories and for good reason. The original serialisation of many of his works can give them a rather fragmented feel but this holds together very well as one of his most coherent and tightly written books. It works on a number of levels; firstly, as a gripping narrative which, like the early graveyard scene with Magwitch, grabs you by the throat and holds you there for the entire journey. On a deeper level, the book is about journeys through childhood and adulthood and the realisation or disappointment of 'expectations.'
The tale begins in the dank, bleak marshlands of the Kent, Thames estuary; a cold, inhospitable environment which is contrasted by the warmth of the fireplace and forge where our hero is raised 'by hand.' The dramatic irony of landscape and environment is always close at hand to provide an external backcloth to secretly held feelings.
We follow the life and 'expectations' of Pip, initially through the eyes of a small, frightened boy, then as an unconfident, self-loathing teenager, a precocious and not always likeable young man and finally to maturity. Written throughout in the first person through his personal account, we sometimes share his naivety but as the story unfolds, the reader becomes increasingly aware of Pip's misreading of his fate. He is not portrayed as a sickly sweet, perfect hero but the humanity of the writing leads us to sympathise with and forgive him for his transgressions.
He is supported by a strong cast of characters including the time locked Miss Haversham, mothballed in her wedding dress and slowly decaying in a mist of her own bitterness. She seeks her revenge through the grooming of a loveless beauty, Estella who is brought up to break men's hearts. Other contributors include the pompous and pumped up Pumblechook, the razor sharp witted lawyer Jaggers, his assistant, Wemmick with his 'portable property' and 'Aged relative' and the hapless and loyal Herbert.
Although the overall theme may be described as disappointment, this is by no means a dark book and there are many humorous interludes and as always, Dickens expresses the simplest idea in an ornate and decorative style that make the words a pleasure to read for their own sake rather than any literary function they may perform.
This particular Wordsworth edition, first published in 1992 and reprinted in 2000, comes with an excellent introduction and notes by John Bowen which give an insight to the historical context and where it fits in Dickens' canon of work. References for strange or unfamiliar terms or places are also given which are also very interesting and useful. The one negative aspect of this edition is that it is printed in Times New Roman, which is not the most reader friendly font.
All said and done, this 400 page book justifiably deserves its place as one of the literary classics of the 19th century. Its well crafted writing, beautiful text, descriptions, characterisation and page turning narrative make it a 'one more page before bed' read. It is, above all, a book about the human experience which is as relevant and enjoyable now as the day it was first released in 1860. Having first read this book 25 years ago, I recently reread it and found that all my expectations were met. Yours will be too.
ISBN number 978-1-85326-004-9
Cover design - Robert Mathias, Publishing Workshop
Most of us first visit Charles Dickens whilst we are at school. The novel is centered arond a young man named Pip who we first meet in childhood. Dickens follows his progression through life in Victorian England.
Without discussing the plot and ruining the book I will try to describe the themes which the book adresses. There is of course the typical major areas which most classic literature visits, class, wealth and love.
Dickens wonderfully explores the ideas of self improvement throughout Pip's childhood and into adulthood through the use of insight into higher social status (through the famous visits to Miss Havisham) and with the use of his change in fortune.
I personally would like to think that throughout the book we are given insight into Pip's idealistic ambitions of always seeking to be better, more sucessfull and more deserving which perhaps is the inspiration for the title "Great Expectations". Perhaps there are also hidden references here to the influence of the changes which occured within social class and advancement through the Industrial Revolution. Dickens makes little reference to characters who have aquired their high social status and wealth through hereditary and aristocratic means, but those who have earned their fortune and place in society.
Morality rears its head on the moors when Pip encounters an escaped convict. This theme is used throughout, intertwined with imagery of criminals and the justice system which could possibly reflect Pips own inner struggle with his own conscience.
Dickens is a wonderful writer and his themes and motifs run far further than those explained above. I doubt that three thousand words would even touch the complexity of his writing.
I love to revist books and try pick out what the auhor might be saying behind the lines however Dickens can be enjoyed at face value.
Great Expectations is a great read, accessiable to all it gives us a little insight into the post revolution 19th centurary England.
Great Expectations was one of my favourite Charles Dickens novels both at school and now that I am older. He is great writer and in this particular story he pulls you in with his great detail and descriptions of everything.
This tale begins at a dark forboding cemetry where a young boy looks down at the graves of his mother and father. This is Pip, the main character, who is a young boy brought up to a lower-class family.
Pip lived in the marshes with his hostile and mainly abusive sister and her kind-hearted husband. In the beginning, Pip always believed he would become a blacksmith and wasn't worried about living a higher life or the financial rewards that might bring.
The life or Pip, however would change forever when his invited to Satis House. Satis House is a mansion full of mystery and intrigue. Estella, a girl of Pip's age, opens the door for Pip to enter. Once inside he finds the place in ruins, with spider webs covering the house and an aging bride who awaits her groom who jilted here many years ago.
That aging old woman is Miss Havisham, a memorable character who is as mysterious as the house she lives in. As way of revenge she feels that to ease her broken heart she must break someone else's heart too.
She has trained Estella into someone who would break men's hearts and Pip is the unfortunate recipient. Estella taunts him enough to make him think that he can acheive higher things than a blacksmith.
And there the story begins and if you haven't read the book I don't want to go any deeper into what happens as it would spoil it for you if I were to do so. We follow Pip has he grows older and Estella and the house become a part of his life.
What is so fascinating about this book is the way the characters are brought to life as every character that Pip meets along his journey has a rich story to tell.
This novel was one of Dickens serialised works. He would write one or two chapters at a time which would then appear in the press. The novel took little under a year to complete.
The narrator is Pip (Phillip Pirrip), whom is orphaned at a young age and taken in by his uncaring and abusive sister, Mrs Joe and her kind husband, Joe the blacksmith.
The story opens on Christmas Eve 1812 (when Pip is aged 7) on the barren marshes of Kent, and goes right up until the Winter of 1840.
In the novel we see the stages of Pip's 'Great Expectations', from his humble beginnings to upper class society. the plot details his dealings with the convict Magwitch, his love interest Estella and the famous Miss Havisham (Hav a Sham).
The key themes of this novel are the quest for social mobility, the difference between gentlemen and gentle men, and the issue of crimes and guilt. The use of winter, marshes and mist as a recurring motifs parellels what is going on in the novel. e.g. hardship, depravation and deception.
At times this book is difficult to read like most of the classics. however it is well worth the read. Upon each new reading you will find new intracacies in the plot, and parallels between characters.
A brilliant read I especially found chapter one to be very vivid - thus my review is based upon that.
The initial chapter is set in a churchyard of graves in the flat Essex marshes, through Pips narration we can envision the bleak threatening landscape. He uses a stream of negative adjectives such as "bleak", "dark" and "leaden" to portray how threatening the landscape is to him. The phrase "...dead and buried" details how the graveyard is inhabited by the dead meaning Pip feels isolated and alone. Pip depicts his location within a long periodic sentence of sixteen clauses, frequently punctuated with "and that". The phrase appears to mirror his thought processes and is comparable to how a young child would describe something. This allows the reader to be in the child's position as he looks out towards the "bleak" horizon and inwards again. Towards the conclusion of the chapter the repeated use of the word "horizontal" emphasizes the flatness of the landscape, making young Pip feel like he has nowhere to run or hide. The metaphor "savage lair" is particularly effective as a lair is an animal's home meaning this could be referring to Magwitch as an animal like person. By this point Pip is feeling vulnerable and helpless and his misery is compounded when he hears the terrible voice of Magwitch, the convict. The two upright objects, in this chapter, are symbolic, "the beacon" represents moral light and the gallows represent this being corrupted by moral ugliness. Consequently the simile "like a man whose legs were numbed and stiff" is used to describe Magwitch and connect him to death.
The initial chapter gives us a sense of the older wiser Pip retrospectively looking back at his youthful naivety. We can see family is important to Pip as he continually mentions his family and parents. "I gave Pirrip as my fathers family name" and "the letters on my fathers grave". The name Pip may have been chosen by Dickens, as the character is an undersized child much like the small seed found in the centre of a fruit, which will one day flourish and grow into something much bigger.
Throughout the book Pip exhibits a "gentlemanlike" politeness even at his tender age and to a fearful convict; Magwitch. Pip may only be a young, working class, boy but he exhibits exceptional language and manners throughout the novel often showing an adult speech pattern. Later in the novel Pip wants to become a gentleman.
It becomes clear by the way that Magwitch throws Pip about that he's physically weak and vulnerable. We also know due to Magwitch's comment, that he has fat cheeks, which makes Magwitch assume that he is well fed.
As soon as we meet Magwitch we discover he is no ordinary man. He has a "terrifying" voice and is described as a "fearful" man.
But we later see he is quite intelligent and strategic as he access's whether it is safe to talk to pip by asking the location of his parents.
Throughout their encounter he uses aggressive body language, he seizes Pip and tilts him over a tombstone to emphasize his point. He also frequently uses dark humor; the phrase "if you're kindly let to live" shows us he finds the whole situation of terrorizing Pip fun!
Magwitch truly terrifies young Pip by fabricating stories of how a man will "tear your heart and liver out" this once again illustrates his intelligence. He knows this is all but impossible but also realizes this will terrify Pip into carrying out the tasks that he has been set!
Even throughout this terrible ordeal Pip remains very gentleman like with his speech, even addressing Magwitch as "sir". The phrase "If you would kindly please to let me keep upright" shows us Pip is well educated and has superior manners.
Magwitch has a rough appearance and is a man that his been pushed to his limits he has "broken shoes", has been "soaked in water and stung by nettles" and "lamed by stones", demonstrating in the phrase that Magwitch is a determined survivor.
As soon as Magwitch finds out that Pip lives with the blacksmith he persuades Pip to bring him a blacksmiths file. This once again illustrates how strategic Magwitch can be!
Magwitch is astounded by Pips kindness and willingness to help him; he vows that he will one day repay him. Later he announces that he told himself if he ever had a guinea it would go to Pip. Later in the novel Magwitch serves his prison sentence in Australia and becomes a sheep farmer earning lots of money.
Magwitch uses his strategic thinking to channel the money to Pip in England via his lawyer, Jagger. The benefactors name is kept secret from Pip and he believes that it is Miss Havisham.
During the 19th Century money was crucial to everyone as it was connected with success, social class and respectability. Everyone wanted to be wealthy and those who were wealthy wanted to be the wealthiest.
At the beginning of the novel we realise that Pip is a very poor orphan, his parents have left him nothing. The convict, Abel Magwitch is even poorer, he is starving and being hunted down by the authorities for crimes, which he committed.
As the novel progress's Magwitch's situation dramatically changes and he acquires great wealth farming in Australia. He remembers how Pip helped him all that time ago when he was starving and alone. He lovingly decides to fund Pips education as a Gentleman, thereby making Pips dreams come true.
When Pip finds out he has a benefactor he is overjoyed, but when Pip comes into the money he rejects Joe and Biddy who loved him so dearly. This suggests that money has the power to corrupt. Another instance of money being used to corrupt is when Miss Havisham teases her relatives about what she will leave them when she dies. She again uses her money to corrupt when she funds Estella's education in which she educates her to hate men.
Pip believes that his education as a gentleman is being funded by Miss Havisham but he later discovers that Magwitch is his benefactor and this horrifies him.
Towards the end of the novel Pip is reconciled with Magwitch and sees the errors he has made. He realises he has mistreated Joe and Biddy and decided to live on less money which he realises will ultimately make him happier.
My first experience of the Dickens classic Great Expectations was when I studied it at School as part of my English course. This basically entaled the entire book being read to us over the course of several lessons, with the occassional reading duty given out to a member of the class to give the teacher a break. This was a very disjointed way of reading the book as it not only did it take seemingly forever but also it was very hard to concentrate on being read to over the course of a double lesson which lasted one hour and ten minutes. That said, I found the actual plot of the story to be really quite good. Having read the book, we also watched one of the film versions, which helped bring it all together as it only took a couple of lessons to get through the story in the film.
Years and years later, I decided to give reading it a try as I could not remember much of the storyline but I did remember that it was quite good. As such I got hold of a reasonably priced Penguin Classics version of the book and began to read it. This was just after New Year a couple of years ago. I don't have a great deal of time to do much reading so it tended to be a few minutes at night before going to bed.
Being a reader of more modern literature, I initially found Dickens' style of writing to be quite hard to follow as he is very descriptive of locations, events, times etc, this coupled with the fact that I was oftenon the verge of sleep when reading the book meant that by the time I had finished reading a passage, for example a description, I had forgotten what exactly it was I was reading about, and I often had to skip back a few pages to remind myself. Not to mention the times I had to re-read pages time after time because I was drifting off to sleep and couldn't focus on what was happening!
This meant that my progress through the book was rather slower than it might have been. However, I did eventually get to grips with the writing style and I also started to read it at times when I was rather more awake, and I found it to be a very good book indeed.
The plot, while seemingly simple actually has nice twists and nice depth to it which is gradually introduced to the reader as the story meanders along. Basically, Pip, the young orphaned brother of a rather tough older sister who is married to an uneducated Blacksmith becomes the subject of an unknown benefactor who pays for him to be well homed, well dressed and well educated with a view to giving him rather more opportunities and expectations in life than he would previously have had. The story develops as Pip grows from a young boy into a young man, with his relationships with his friends, potential suitors, his family and the mysterious old lady, from the town he grew up in, named Mrs Haversham.
It is in essense a classic rags to riches story exploring how coming into money can change a person and effect the course of their life. In some ways it is still quite a pertinent story as I'm sure a great many people these days have wondered what they would do if they came into money and their 'expectations' were suddenyl able to be much greater. Hasn't everybody wondered what they would do if they won the lottery?
Although I did find it quite heavy going at times, I would have to say this is a great piece of story telling, and one which I would recommend reading. It might take a while to get used to the style of writing as it is rather more wordy that books of today but with that comes such wonderful descriptive writing that the world of the book is really brought to life in the imagination so much so that you can almost see the events unfolding in your mind rather than merely living on the pages.
If you have never read the book, or have only watched a film version of it, I would say it was certainly worth a read, if only to open your eyes to the world of true classic story telling.
Have you ever wished you could be a high-flying executive, with money, respect and admiration showering down upon you? Have you ever had a crush on someone and wanted to impress them? Have you ever felt like your wings are clipped and you're not getting your chance to make an impression on the world? If so, you're just like Pip in Great Expectations. He is cared for by his strict sister and her gentle husband Joe, but becomes increasingly aware of his humble circumstances when he starts to visit the odd and rich Miss Havisham and the beautiful young girl Estella who lives with her. He hates how Estella looks down on him and wants to rise up in the world to become acceptable to her. When Pip comes into money and is granted the opportunity to become a gentleman, he assumes it is Miss Havisham who is responsible, but later discovers that, in fact, his benefactor is a figure from his childhood that he'd rather forget. The novel follows Pip's journey from a humble child into a successful London gentleman, and examines all his feelings along the way. We see conflict within him as he grows older. He desperately wants to be a gentleman, more than anything, but nevertheless feels guilty of abandoning his origins and the people who brought him up and educated him in his childhood. The character of Estella is also interesting. She has been repressed since childhood by Miss Havisham, and has been encouraged to be cold and unfeeling, but eventually snaps and turns against Miss Havisham. It seems that Miss Havisham finally has to reap what she sowed. This novel features the usual charm of Dickens, the usual twists and turns necessary to make his publication of chapters in magazines having people wanting to come back for more, and his charming child who finally comes of age before the end of the novel. Pip could easilly be compared to other Dickens characters like Oliver in Oliver Twist and David in David Copperfield. As
usual with Dickens his characters aren't always what they first appear and often are revealed to be far more complex than the reader might first anticipate, and of course, Dickens brings a bygone era to life in a way that other authors such as Thomas Hardy failed to do for me. Dicken's descriptions of Pip's boyish love and devotion to Joe are more than touching, as is the relationship that develops between Pip and Herbert. The description of the Pocket family often verges on comedic, and the villians such as Orlick are easy to despise. You feel fully involved in the story as you read this novel. You feel like you've known Pip all your life and have watched him grow and mature, and you feel sympathy for him in times of trouble. Dickens has never failed to disappoint me yet, and Great Expectations was no exception. His characters are realistic, his command of the story with all its intertwining branches and recurring characters is masterful and it is a novel extremely difficult to put down once started.
*** Introduction *** ?Great Expectations? is the novel by Dickens about Philip Pirrip?s life, with him as the leading character and the narrator, a life that without one sole benefactor would probably be the common and predictable experience that Pip himself was expecting. Although he desperately wanted to become much more than he believed he was to be, if the encounter which took place in chapter one had never occurred the life story of Pip would be an extreme opposite, and probably not worth writing about either! ***Characters*** Pip ? the main character about who the whole novel is about. Mrs Joe ? Pip?s older sister who has brought him up Magwitch ? more than an escaped convict Joe ? Mrs Joe?s husband another main character Estella ? the snobby ?daughter? of a rich lady Mrs Havisham - the rich lady I just mentioned Biddy - Carer of Mrs Joe who goes on to marry Joe Most of the other characters I couldn?t keep up with?! *** Main additions to the plot *** In chapter one we encounter Pip in the churchyard early Christmas Eve visiting the graves of his long deceased family, parents, Phillip and Georgiana, and fellow siblings Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham and Tobias. At this point Pip?s life is nothing special, in fact it?s downright miserable, living with his elder sister Mrs Joe who likes to intimidate and victimise Pip alongside her own husband. However Pip is not alone in the churchyard as he soon comes to discover for himself! An important addition to Pips yearning to be a ?gentleman? is the way in which Estella looks upon him, when Pip meets Estella in Chapter 8 during an expedition to Satis House. ?She seemed much older than I, of course, and being a girl, and beautiful and self-possessed; and she was scornful of me as if she had been one and twenty, and a queen.? Estella looks down on Pip, she comes from a much wealthier background and is of higher
class than him, she deems him common and believes herself to be above Pip. ?Why, he is a common labouring boy!? Estella has a powerful influence over Pip at his impressionable age, and his way of thinking begins to alter. ?I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider, them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt for me was so strong that I became infectious and I caught it.? At first Pip does not understand Estella?s perception, but when he comes to realise the stark differences between them instead of excepting them, as Joe clearly had a long time ago, Pip becomes ashamed of himself, and yearns even more to be a ?gentleman?. At this point Pip?s personality is that of a kind, polite well brought-up child, he is perhaps a little more timid than usual, owing to the violent manners of his sister, but other than that Pip is no different than can be expected. ?I in great part refer the fact that I was morally timid and very sensitive.? Each aspect of Pip?s childhood personality fade and change during the years to come. Upon coming home from up-town at Satis House in Chapter 15 another piece of Pip?s life is thrown into place: ?I became aware of my sister lying without sense or movement on the bare boards, where she had been knocked down by a tremendous blow to the back?. Mrs Joe Gargery had been attacked whilst standing by the fire at a time when both Pip and Joe had gone out. ?On the ground beside her, when Joe picked her up, was a convicts leg-iron which had been filed asunder ? some time ago? Pip recognises this leg-iron and it provides a strong connection to Chapter one. ?I believed the iron to be my convict?s iron- but my mind did not accuse him of having put it to its latest use? The results of the actions pip took at the beginning of this novel force themselves upon Pip, ?It was horrible to think that I had provided the weapon, however un-designedly.? At this point in Pip?s life he still contains
a certain respect for his older sister, and he feels guilt and shame, emotions that would be a surprise for the late Pip to encounter. Pip?s education develops immensely all to the omission of a sole benefactor unknown to Pip, until one night when Pip?s benefactor is finally revealed! ?It was wretched weather; stormy and wet, stormy and wet, and mud, mud, mud deep in all the streets?. The repetition Dickens uses when describing the weather circumstances clearly emphasizes just how miserable it is. Magwitch (the convict) seems to prompt the bad weather with his own appearances, and just as Pip?s old life has been displaced, so have the memories with it. ?He looked about him with the strangest air ? an air of wondering pleasure, as if he had some part in the things he admired,? and ?Even yet, I could not recall a single feature, but I knew him?.? Magwitch returns to Pip a good many years later, unrecognizable to put forth a revelation of which Pip has awaited since he escaped life as an apprentice. ?Yes, Pip, dear boy, I?ve made a gentleman on you! It?s me wot has done it! I swore that time, sure as ever I earned a guinea, that guinea should go to you. I swore arterwards, sure as ever I spec?lated and got rich, you should get rich.? *** What I wont tell you *** ~Who is in the churchyard with Pip at the beginning? ~What becomes of Pip by the end? ~Do Pip and Estella ever get together? ~Who really attacked Mrs Joe? *** Conclusion *** Personally, I despised this novel! It bored me relentlessly, I read it for the one reason, swathed in flowery dresses and frumpy coats and marching around school, Ms Mantell! Lovely woman, and its not often you hear me say that about a teacher either! She never judges, always listens to your point of view and tries to understand as well as helping at the same time, in issues other than her own lessons when there?s nothing to say she need even
bother to help. So anyway, I read this slowly and grudgingly and its not something I would like to do again! I think that too many characters were introduced and by the end the housekeepers, servants, messengers and whoever else all blended into one person for me! I?m not really a big Dickens fan anyway I suppose, one or two of his novels were good, and they were fun to portray in musicals when I was about 7 years old?but now they just soak up my valuable time! I can't give you a price on it because i didn't buy it i was loaned it by the school. This was a lot shorter than my usual dronings but I really did not want to bore anyone more than I had to!
Great Expectations was first published in a newspaper over a space of weeks. That’s while you’ll find in different chapters that it seems like Dickens is reminding you of the characters, because after a week, people forgot different characters. It’s an odd novel, because each character changes throughout it. You’d never think that someone you liked so much in the beginning could become someone you don’t like further on in the novel, or vice versa, but that actually happens often in the book with most characters. A story of a young boy from rags to riches has been read thousands of times in the century and a half it’s been around, televised many times, and is still thought as one of Dickens’ best work. **The Plot** Pip hasn’t had the best of lives. His Mother, his Father, and all but one of his brother and Sisters have passed away. He lives with his sister, and his sister’s husband – Mr and Mrs Joe Gargery – in a small village. Pip is brought to us like a sweet, innocent and normal little boy. His real name being Philip Pirrip, he admits on the first page, he couldn’t get his tongue round his real name, and the only thing that came out was Pip! Mrs Joe is probably one of the wickedest women in literature at that time. In books around the 19th Century, women in books were sweet and innocent. Cooked the meals, did the cleaning, and the men were supposed to be nasty to them. But, in Great Expectations Mrs Joe beats her husband, and her helpless brother Pip. She mocks them nastily, and all readers are made to hate her. Dickens also brought another thing to us- fear from a man’s point of view. Even though Joe loves Mrs Joe, he fears her very much, and in every other book at that time, the man was the tough guy, and rarely ever feared anyone; let alone his wife. Even though she rarely raised a finger to him, she did at times,
and at that time, it was though, as right to hit your wife if necessary, but Joe didn’t do it; not once. The novel begins very suddenly, with the main story brought to us in the first 10 pages. Pip often goes to the graveyard to visit his mother, father’s and his brother and sister’s graves. Mrs Joe doesn’t like him going up there, so he sneaks up whilst he can. When he’s there, he sees a tall, well built, ugly man. This man picks Pip up, and dangles him upside down. Clearly Pip is very scared at this point, not knowing who he is, or even why he’s actually doing this. It turns out the man is an escaped convict, and he is after food. “If you don’t get me food, I will get my friend, who’s much tougher and scarier than me, to kill you. He’ll slit your throat open.” The man tells Pip. “Yes, sir… sir… yes.” Pip answers. He gets food for him, and keeps taking it to him, but soon his sister begins to realise food is going missing. The police find the escaped convict in the end, but the convict knows how much Pip tried to help him. And here the story begins. What’s odd about this novel is, I presume it’s because it was printed in the newspaper, it has numerous stories in it. It doesn’t stick to one main plot, but has many with different characters. Also, one of the other main plots is Pip’s adoration for Estella, a young girl who lives with a strange woman in one of the biggest houses in their village. He meets Estella, when he goes to see Miss Havisham… Miss Havisham hasn’t set foot outside her house since her wedding day many years ago. She remains in her wedding dress, has kept the house how it was on the day, and stopped the clocks at the time she was jilted. Joe forces Pip to go up there, when Miss Havisham request company for her and her niece Estella. When Pip en
ters the odd house, he becomes engrossed with Miss Havisham’s lifestyle straight away. At first he’s scared. A haggard old woman, in a wedding dress, now faded to a yellow colour, which hasn’t seen the light of day in decades is requesting him to play cards with her. When he meets Estella who’s a tall, attractive, blonde girl he falls in love with her immediately. Like his sister, Mrs Joe, Estella is horrible to Pip treating him like dirt. It seems Miss Havisham encourages this, as she has so much hate for men after she was jilted. After a while it becomes less of love between Pip and Estella, but more like an obsession Pip has with her. He knows she hates him, but can’t help but love her when he visits. Pip is the only person, apart from Estelle, who has seen Miss Havisham since she was jilted. So, when Pip returns home everyone questions him what Miss Havisham is like, and just to annoy him or her, he lies about her. Pip carries on visiting Miss Havisham for many years, and we see him growing up from a young boy to a boy, and then a teenage boy. Throughout this time he still adores Estella, and never forgets her after she leaves to Paris. But, when Pip leaves the little village when he is becoming a man, to live in London, where he is expected to have “Great Expectations”. And here is where Pip’s character changes, where the darker side comes out, and the full story unravels… **My Opinion** I have so many strong views on Great Expectations. Dickens, I feel, has done so many things to make us think about what he’s writing, and to create a certain characters personality. At the beginning of the novel, when the escaped convict says: “If you don’t get me food, I will get my friend, who’s much tougher and scarier than me, to kill you. He’ll slit your throat open.” I can’t help but see
that the convict is saying a “friend” will kill Pip. This makes me think, that the convict has a soft side to him, and that he’s not capable of killing him, that he doesn’t really want to hurt Pip at all, he just wants food, and is threatening him for that reason only. But, he’s such a nice person, that he can’t even threaten him by saying he’ll kill him. Even though he says his friend will cut his throat, which is a very brutal thing to do, he still keeps on saying that a friend will do it, and not once does “I” come out of his mouth when he’s threatening Pip. Pip’s character changed a lot in the novel, and to think Dickens made you like him so much in the beginning of the novel, it was very clever the way he managed to make you not like him as much nearing the end. When he was beginning to be ashamed of Joe, it was such strong writing, he made us think twice about how much you actually liked Pip, and whether you still liked him. It showed how a lavish lifestyle can change someone. When Pip was at home in his small village, it was lovely to read how pleased he was to go to London, and how much of a joy it was for him; he was so thankful to be going. Then, after a few years in London we get to see how he changes, and how something he’d be so thankful for before, now he didn’t really care and expected these to be given to him, and that he wasn’t lucky to be getting these things at all, but he deserved these things he got, which certainly isn’t the right attitude. What I found extremely good writing on Dickens’ front as well was how he never told us Pip’s sisters name. She was always referred to as Mrs Joe, and we didn’t find out her real name in the book. What I found so fantastic about this was the way that Dickens managed to create her character secretly. Even though, he always described
her evil and horrible, I think the fact he didn’t name her, made me feel that she wasn’t as evil as Dickens tried to make out. It seems she’s been hiding behind Mr Joe’s character and she isn’t allowed her own personality, even though she rules the roost at home, she isn’t allowed a name of her own. I feel Mrs Joe isn’t as wicked as Dickens makes out. She does some awful things in the novel, but when you think of it, look what she gone through. Her parents died, and she had to take care for her brothers and sisters. Then most of them died, and only she and her brother remained. In her life she has had to deal with deaths of her loved ones, and other worries as well. I presume that she wasn’t always as wicked as she was made out in the novel. Even though she shouldn’t have beaten Pip, and sometimes, Joe, I think she only did it to make herself feel better and to get noticed, because she probably got no recognition for what she did for her family. The way Dickens describes Miss Havisham and her house is fantastic in the novel. I think I’ve only ever seen such good description, with use of adjectives, metaphors, similes, personifications in one other novel in my life, and that is in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. He shows us how hurt Miss Havisham was when she was jilted, and how all her pain has been locked up all these years, and how cold it has turned her. It seems that Miss Havisham has made Estella hate Pip because he’s a man, and she hates men for what has happened to her. With Miss Havisham and Mrs Joe, it seems there’s a resemblance in their character’s Two are women, and even though they’ve come from different backgrounds, they’ve had to deal with an awful lot, and have had no thanks or recognition. Dickens created a different kind of women in Great Expectations. He modernised the women in his novel
, and you wouldn’t have seen any other women behave like that in those sort of novels at that time. What I didn’t like in the novel was, in some parts I felt he didn’t describe places as much as he could. For instance, Pip’s flat in London, we found out very little about it, and he didn’t really describe it well. Today we have televised version’s that create the picture for us, but back then, it had to be made in the readers’ imaginations, and I felt Dickens could’ve done that, because he did it so well in earlier stages of the book. Dickens managed to tell us things that seemed irrelevant, but later on in the book, we’d see why he mentioned those things and they seemed so clear and so clever to have thought of them! I wouldn’t say that Dickens is one of the best writers of all time, but Great Expectations is a good read, and has so many twist and turns you feel you’re on a rollercoaster! He really manages to keep you gripped, and even though it’s a long read, at the end you’ll feel satisfied and shocked. **All in all** Even though I enjoyed Dickens writing here, I have read better books than this. I don’t think this would turn up in my top 10 books, but it’s a good read for a rainy afternoon, and also a good one to read over a space of time. A very clever plot, and very clever writing. You can buy the book from Amazon for a mere £1,50 from the Penguin classics and the audio book, also from Penguin classics, for £7,19. Written By: Matt Roberts.
I had never once in my life had any inclination to read Dickens. In all honesty I was really happy that I'd never had to read any at school or college, and more than slightly gutted when I was told I had to read some for uni. I was, however, in for a pleasant suprise. I could hardly put this book down, wondering what would happen next, even laughing aloud at parts (this is not recommended, you get odd looks from people who realise you are laughing at Dickens. Usually people who have not read the book themselves.) This book portrays some of Dickens' best known characters, Pip, the slightly gullible main character of the book, and Miss Havisham, the very eccentric old lady who lives in a nearby mansion. Having not read any more Dickens I could not say if this is his best piece but if there is any that is better I would read it immediately. I strongly advise anyone who has not read this book to pick up a cheap copy and not make any plans for a weeks worth of evenings.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Great Expectations opens unforgettably in a twilit and overgrown churchyard on the eerie Kent marshes. There the orphan Pip is disturbed to meet an escaped convict, Magwitch, but gives him food, in an encounter that is to haunt both their lives. How Pip receives riches from a mysterious benefactor, snobbishly abandons his friends for London society and “Great Expectations”, and grows through misfortune and suffering to maturity is the theme of one of Dicken’s best-loved novels. In Great Expectations Dicken’s blends gripping drama with penetrating satire to give a compelling story rich in comedy and pathos: he has also created two of his finest, most haunting characters in Pip and Miss Havisham. First serialized in the journal All Year Round in 1861, Great Expectations is regarded by many as Dicken’s finest achievement. Angus Wilson regarded it as “one of Dicken’s warmest novels”, but it is clear from his friend and biographer, John Forster, that the original ending was changed in favour of a happier one.
This was the first ever Dickens novel I read and I must admit it is a hard act to follow. Dickens books were all originally written to be serialised in weekly parts, rather like the soap operas of today. Like soap operas he also had to put in little cliff-hangers at the end of each edition and this is one of the strengths of the book. You do not want to put it down. What is going to happen next. Dickens is the master of the subtle clue but it would take a very astute observer indeed to anticipate the shock which is awaiting young Pip when he finds out who his real benefactor is. Dickens is a very descriptive and evocative writer. Much of this book is set on the Kentish Marshes and even today, 150 years later, you can see what Dickens was on about. The atmosphere of what it must have been like living in the wild desolate countryside of Pip's childhood is easy to envisage. Like one of the other opinion writers on this book I too read it for A level English. It was useful to have certain things pointed out and elaborated on, which leaves me at a bit of an advantage from the casual recreational reader. However, having said that, it is undoubtedly a classic and fully deserves to be rated as such.
Endlessly filmed and refilmed, this is one of the most atmospheric and compelling books that I've read by Dickens. Very unusually for me, I read it over a weekend. Its easy to read and some of the more irritating digressions and ridiculousnesses of a lot of his other books are missing altogether. If you've seen David Lean's movie of the book, (not the rubbish modern one made a few years ago!) you have a good idea of what makes it work - evokes childhood really well; conjures up the gloomy atmosphere of the North Kent marshes amazingly (trust me I was born there); has his usual gift at doing grotesque and overblown characters; and closes with one of the most amazing chases long before cinema took up that hobby. The obsession with class is difficult for us to take I think after 150 years, but the book is basically about the importance of transcending these divisions and rediscovering the importance of kindness Fantastic. -
Pip is the narrator of the story, which begins when he is aged seven. He is an orphan living with his sister and her husband who is the local blacksmith. Their home is set in the marshes of Kent. One evening while visiting his parents graves, an escaped convict, who orders him at the peril of his life to obtain food and a file for his leg irons, grabs Pip. Pip obeys and the convict is soon captured, but he protects Pip by claiming to have stolen the items himself. Miss Havisham, who lives in a grand house outside Pips village, is a wealthy woman, who was jilted on her wedding day and her home has not changed since that date. The dining room table is still prepared for the wedding feast. Pip is asked to visit the house and play with Miss Havishams adopted daughter, Estella. Estella is a very beautiful young girl and she captivates Pip. She treats him coldly and harshly, and Pip dreams of becoming worthy enough of her, and he is determined to obtain some sort of education. Some years later Pip is sponsored by Miss Havisham to become apprentice to his brother-in-law, Joe. Pip feels this is a type of imprisonment and he can see no way of obtaining his dreams.