Dickens. I am sure you are well aware by now that I really struggle with Dickens. Great Expectations was no different I started it in June of the previous year and was finally done with it this January. If you don’t know the plot of Great Expectations a young country boy Pip, is coerced by and escaped convict to help him remove his chains by stealing a file. This event shapes his life forever.
The story is also haunted by Miss Havisham a jilted bride who 20 years on still has the wedding breakfast laid out on the table and still wears her wedding gown. At a young age Pip is taken to Miss Havisham’s house to play cards with her young ward Estella. Pip falls in love with the cold but beautiful Estella and spends a good part of his life pining after her. When Pip is made a gentleman by a wealthy patron he assumes that it is Miss Havisham who intends to raise him from his poverty to marry Estella. But things don’t quite turn out that way.
It is pretty standard Dickens stuff. Poverty, dingy places, lawyers and clerks a few crazy people. I didn’t like Pip, I didn’t like Estella I hated Miss Havisham and always have done*. The only person I liked in the whole story was Joe. Joe is Pip’s brother-in-law who cares for him in his early days when he lives with his awful sister, Joe’s wife. WHY IS PIP SO MEAN TO JOE. It makes me so mad that as Pip becomes a gentleman he becomes ashamed of Joe don’t you remember all the kind things he did for you?
The story gets really slow in the middle so no surprises there. There is a bit where Pip is living it up in London being an ungrateful little toe-rag that seemed to go on for ages and I couldn’t wait for it to end. But after that all the things happen. Crickey it’s like Dickens saves it all up for the last few chapters. Now I have to talk about the ending because I think I misinterpreted it so ***SPOILER WARNING****
Right okay I might need you all to help me out here. So Magwitch dies, Pip is bailed out by Joe and he finally realises that Joe is awesome and goes to Egypt with Herbert to earn the money to repay Joe. Got all that thank God Pip realised he was being an idiot. It is just the last sentence when he sees Estella again “I saw no shadow of another parting from her”. I took this to mean that Pip was very much of the mindset ‘I can leave her here, never see her again and be happy’ because there won’t be another parting. But according to Wikipedia it means they get married??? I don’t like this ending at all. I liked the idea that both Pip and Estella have grown from their misfortune and they leave the past behind them and continue in the world as better people. Not that they see each other again after 11 years and go back to a place emotionally where they were both terrible people. Why do that? I don’t get it. Anyway, in my head they never see each other again and leave Satins House with peace and forgiveness knowing that having known the other person was important and made them better people.
Would recommend to: read for bragging rights/ literary study but not pleasure.
*I had to study a poem at GCSE English called Havisham by Carol Ann Duffy. I had a big fight with my teacher about it because she reckoned Miss Havisham was tragic and I thought she needed a slap.