BOOK REVIEW: GREAT EXPECTATIONS BY CHARLES DICKENS

This is another book I read the same day I read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and it was truly incredible! I loved every bit of it and weirdly enough I kept hugging the book after I was done because I didn’t want to let it go. Great Expectations was written by Charles Dickens who is most famous for his books; Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol. Another classic book by a truly marvellous writer; written in 1861, it originally had two endings when Dickens re-wrote another ending for the book and it became the most popular and in my opinion, the best version. Just like Little Women, this might be a bit longer so sit tight.

Summary
The book centres around Pip as a child up until he grows up; but in the course of the storyline, it brings together an escaped prisoner, a bitter, rich old woman and a beautiful, heartless girl. It begins when Pip goes to visit the graves of his father, mother and little brothers when suddenly he was approached by a man with torn, wet clothes, worn out shoes, and chain locked on his legs – he was an escaped prisoner. The strange man questions Pip and then asks him to bring a file and some food for him the next morning; which he does – taking with him a big pork pie and a bottle of brandy which he stole from their house; where he lives with his older sister and her husband, Joe.

That morning after taking the goods to the stranger, he introduced himself as Abel Magwitch; after which Pip runs back home. On getting home, Mr Jaggers, a lawyer, came for Pip; as requested by Miss Havisham – a rich old woman who never saw anyone – but no one knew why she sent for Pip. When they arrived at Miss Havisham’s gate, Pip was escorted in by a young girl; Estella – who stayed with Miss Havisham.

Book

On entering a room where Estella led him to, he met Miss Havisham; seated in a large room well-lit with candles but, without a drop of daylight. She wore a white bridal dress, a veil on her already white hair, and a dead flower on her hair. She was old. Everything in the room was faded and yellow, the table laid for a feast was covered with cobwebs; with spiders scurrying in and out of an ancient wedding cake that was also on the table. Miss Havisham tells Pip and Estella to play, so they played cards as she watched them; until Estella won. After their game, Miss Havisham tells Pip to come over the following week; after which, he was led out by Estella. He then hoped to be rich so Estella wouldn’t despise him.

For years, Pip kept going to Miss Havisham’s house to play with Estella and everything remained the same – Miss Havisham stayed indoors; still wearing her bridal dress, watching Pip and Estella play. After Pip’s sister passes away, Joe tells Pip he is now old enough to be his apprentice as a blacksmith; and with his dreams of being rich coming to an end, he had to stop going to Miss Havisham’s house, so he goes to inform her; where he meets Estella who was about to leave for France to finish her education and become a grand lady. Estella confinds in Pip one day about being unable to love because Miss Havisham never taught her to; and Pip was unable to tell Estella he loved her.

The next day, Mr Jaggers unexpectedly shows up at Pip and Joe’s house to give him good news. Someone – who asked to remain a secret until he/she chooses to reveal their identity – had gifted Pip with a very large amount of money and asked that he come to London to learn how to be a gentleman with the only condition of keeping whoever he thought the person might be to himself. Pip arrives at London in a week where he begins living the elegant, rich life. He finds out through his new friend, Herbert Pocket, about Miss Havishman’s story – how she was dressed for her wedding with a sumptuous feast laid on the table but on her way to the church, the groom ran away; and her life came to a stop at that momemt. Also, how she adopted Estella and brought her up to break men’s heart just like her’s was broken.

Charles Dickens

With so much money to spend, and with such an extravagant life, he ignores Joe when he goes to visit him in London. Pip again goes to visit Miss Havisham who was already looking older, and he meets Estella there. Miss Havisham tells Pip to love Estella – real love – and he finally admits to loving Estella. But she says she has no heart and cannot love, then confesses to not even loving Miss Havisham. Pip returns to London where he finds a strange, old man waiting for him; he recognises him as Abel Magwitch, the escaped prisoner he met years ago. Magwitch confesses that all Pip’s money came from him; he told Pip how he went to Australia and made a lot of money and instead, decided to give it to Pip.

Despite Magwitch’s sentence still standing in London, he goes to see Pip; giving his reason for sending all his money to him – because he had a daughter whom he left with her mother but she was put on trial for murder and he never heard about or saw his daughter; but when he saw Pip years ago, he reminded him of her. Pip felt disgusted at Magwitch and his family, calling them filthy rats from the gutter without morality or decency, but he let Magwitch spend the night. Pip then goes to see Jaggers the next morning where he recognises Jaggers’ housekeeper as Estella’s mother. Mr Jaggers then tells Pip how he was Estella’s mother when she was arrested, how he acquitted her and took her child whom he gave to Miss Havisham for adoption.

The following night, Pip tries to help Magwitch escape but they were stopped by policemen who jumped onto their boat and handcuffs Magwitch, just then, he jumps into the sea but couldn’t swim with his hands chained behind his back until Pip jumps in to save Magwitch from almost drowning. A few days later, Magwitch dies from an illness caused when he almost drowned; but Pip first tells him that his daughter is alive and he loves her. With his death came the loss of Pip’s fortune because Magwitch was an escaped criminal who died in England and as such, the state owned everything he had. So Pip goes back to Joe who accepted him back with open arms, making Pip realise Joe was the real gentle while he became a snob.

Great expectations by Charles Dickens

Once again, Pip visits Miss Havisham and on his way out, the unimaginable happens. A candle tumbles and falls on Miss Havisham’s dress which catches on fire instantly; later setting everything around her – the ceiling, the crumbling wedding feast, etc – on fire. Pip manages to take her outside and extinguishes her burning dress; getting his arms burned in the process, but the house burned to nothing. He wakes up a few weeks later in Joe’s house – after fainting the day of the incident and falling ill afterwards – to the news of Miss Havisham’s death. Feeling better, he goes to the ruins of Miss Havisham’s house where he meets Estella – back from France. Pip confesses his love for her again and they walked hand in hand out of the ruins; never to be parted again.

My Thoughts
Before I begin, I mentioned earlier that the book had two endings; the first one involved Pip and Estella meeting briefly in London, and then parting ways forever. The second is what I summarized; Pip and Estella being together forever. I really loved this book not only because Dickens is an amazing writer but because of how the story played out and the morals as well. Pip wanted to be rich so Estella would notice him and when he became rich, he ended up being a snob; forgetting everyone who helped him; including Joe, and seeing poor people as nothing forgetting that he too was once poor.

Also, Miss Havisham, because she was left standing by her husband-to-be on the day of their wedding, she cut herself off from the world completely and didn’t let herself heal by continously living in the past. She then took a happy child and turned her into a copy of her own sadness and hatred by making her cold hearted; only to regret it later on. If she had let herself heal and move on, she would’ve been happy or at least had a chance to be. I also loved how Joe remained kind no matter what because it showed that money can’t make anyone a real gentleman like Pip originally thought

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