Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

 

I’m going to admit it – I was wrong about Dickens. Great Expectations is a fantastic book and Charles Dickens is not a demon sent to earth to torture centuries of school children – he’s actually a good writer!

The story of Pip’s journey from humble beginnings as a blacksmith’s apprentice to London and his ‘great expectations’ takes the reader on a thrilling and heart-wrenching quest. His love for the cold, emotionless Estella drives him to forsake his past and family in order to be the kind of man she would want to marry. Many of the characters in Great Expectations struggle with the sin of pride, including Miss Havisham, the damaged woman who raises Estella. Like many others, I found Miss Havisham to be the most powerful and unforgettable character in the novel. Her bitterness has turned her life, every aspect of it, to rot. The scene when she realizes how she has let her pain and shame fester and infect herself, Estella, her family and even Pip, is one of the most memorable and shocking scenes of the book.

by H.M. Brock. from victorianweb.com

The novel is chock-full of amusing, frightening, annoying, well-drawn characters such as Mr. Jaggers, Wemmick, Orlick, Pumblechook, Magwitch and the saintly and loveable Joe. What I enjoyed most about the book were the characters and their quirks, their failings, and gentle acts of kindness.

The plot was surprisingly moving to me and I even found myself stifling tears a few times near the end of the book. I was astonished to discover who Pip’s patron was and did not imagine that the novel would end the way it did. As Pip’s expectations are slowly dashed against the rocks of reality I had to wonder how his life would turn out and I was not disappointed with the result. I think the ending (the revised one) was beautiful and perfect.

I am glad I finally got over my fear and disregard for Dickens. I feel that I can now go on and read many more of his novels without hesitation.

Which Dickens would you recommend I read next?

This is the first book I’ve finished for the Classics Challenge. Hurray! Here is my next choice:

Eeeek!

18 comments / Add your comment below

  1. oh strange I was going say copperfield as well ,it is meant be nearest to his own life story ,I love great expectation it has some of his best character in ,all the best stu

  2. I’m almost halfway through this book and I’m enjoying it too. I’ve only read a few other Dickens novels, but so far my favourite is Our Mutual Friend.

  3. Since you asked for Dickens recommendations, I guess I shouldn’t suggest Trollope 🙂

    I think Nicholas Nickleby is a fun read.

  4. The Warden is not the best Trollope, but the rest of the Barsetshire series makes much more sense if you’d read it first. I’ve also read Barchester Towers and Doctor Thorne and loved them both.

    If you’re looking for another good Dickens on the shorter side, I’d highly recommend Oliver Twist. It’s one of his early works so the style is a little different, but it’s really wonderful, if a bit melodramatic. My all-time favorite Dickens is Bleak House but it’s very long, so it might be daunting. There are a lot of great works to choose from — David Copperfield’s very good, also Little Dorrit. Right now I’m reading Martin Chuzzlewit which is lesser known. It started out slowly but now I’m about 300 pages in and it’s picking up.

    The only one I’d definitely avoid is Hard Times, which I hated. Dombey and Son was okay but not great. Glad to see you on the Dickens bandwagon!

  5. Thanks for the Dickens advice, Karen! It is hard to know how to proceed with him without becoming annoyed. I think David Copperfield and Oliver Twist will be my next two of his novels, definitely!

Thank you for reading and commenting.

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