Introduction by George Bernard Shaw   Pip, a poor orphan being raised by a cruel sister, does not have much in the way of great expectations—until he is inexplicably elevated to wealth by an anonymous benefactor Full of unforgettable characters—including a terrifying convict named Magwitch, the eccentric Miss Havisham, and her beautiful but manipulative niece, Estella, Great Expectations is a tale of intrigue, unattainable love, and all of the happiness money can’t buy “Great Expectations has the most wonderful and most perfectly workedout plot for a novel in the English language,” according to John Irving, and J Hillis Miller declares, “Great Expectations is the most unified and concentrated expression of Dickens’s abiding sense of the world, and Pip might be called the archetypal Dickens hero”   INCLUDES A MODERN LIBRARY READING GROUP GUIDE “You are in every line I have ever read.”Why couldn't every line in this book be this good? I took me nearly three whole months to finish it Not because it was bad, but because it dragged and dragged and there are farintriguing books out there than Great Expectations.The good stuff:An exciting cast of characters, most of them very weird, extravagant and almost to completely ridiculous By far my favourites are Joe because he's such a goodhearted person and Miss Havisham because I totally look up to her dedication to melodrama.What also got me hooked were the huge revelations in this book There were a few things that I did not see coming.The bad stuff:Too many words, too many pages I was completely demotivated to ever finish this, which is why I made myself write a term paper about it so that I would actually pick it up again and read all of it I worked.Honestly, though, this book was originally published in a Victorian Periodical Imagine watching your favourite TV Show and waiting for a new episode every week Well, it was like that with this novel It was published in several instalments The readers needed to be entertained enough so that they would buy next weeks magazine copy This also means that Charles Dickens needed to fill the pages every week so that the readers got what they paid for And I'm afraid it also reads like that If this novel was 200 pages shorter, I might have enjoyed itThere was so much going on that I didn't care about, so many details that could have been omitted Overall a fine classic and a wellplotted story that bored me with its obsession for things unimportant I can't wait to watch the adoption with Helena Bonham Carter, though!Findof my books on Instagram My students (and some of my friends) can't ever figure out why I love this novel so much I explain how the characters are thoroughly original and yet timeless, how the symbolism is rich and tasty, and how the narrative itself is juicy and chockfull of complexity, but they just shake their heads at me in utter amazement and say, What's wrong with you, dude?What's wrong, indeed.I give them ten or fifteen years Perhaps they'll have to read it again in college, or maybe they'll just try reading it again as an adult to see if they can try to figure out why it's such a classic, but after some time has passed from their initial encounter with the novel, they will find that I am not so crazy after all and that the book is in fact one of the best examplesif not the best exampleof the novel This happens to me all the time: I will reread something I was forced to read in middle school and high school, remembering how much I hated it then, and will find that I actually love it now, as an adult Sure, those classics may have taught me something about literary analysis, symbolic patterns, and the like, but I couldn't appreciate it for its complexity until I was older I guess the rule of wine appreciation applies here, too: good taste only comes after much patience and experience.***Perhaps the thing I love best about this novel is the cast of characterstheir names as well as their personalities Ms Havisham is one of my favorite characters to ever appear in all of the literature I have read There is so much density and complexion to her character that I could literally make an entire career out of writing discourses on her characterization She has even invaded the way I think about the world and the people I have met: I have, for instance, started referring to those instances where parents try to achieve success through their children the Havisham effect (unfortunately, you see this all too often in the world of teaching) Havisham's name is another exasperatingly fantastic aspect of her character: like the majority of Dickens' characters, you pretty much know what you're in for when you first read her nameshe is full of lies, tricks, and deceits (or shams) You don't get this sort of characterization much of anywhere else in the literary scene.Another reason I love this novel so much is its plotting Remember, Dickens was writing in a serialized format so he needed to keep his readers hooked so that they'd want to buy the next issue of his periodical, All the Year Round, in order to see what happens next Thus, the plot of Great Expectations is winding, unpredictable, and quite shocking at points Certainly, in terms of heavy actionwell, what our youngsters these days would call action, fighting and big explosions and whatnotthere is none, or very little at most, but that's not the thing to be looking for Figure out the characters first, and then, once you've gotten to know and even care for them (or hate them), you will be hooked on the plot because you will want to know what happens to these people who you've invested so much feeling into This is, of course, true of all novels, but it's what I tell my students when they read Great Expectations for the first time, and by gum, it's helpedthan a few of them get through the novel successfully.So, if you read Great Expectations in middle school, high school, or college, but haven't picked it up since, I urge you to do so With apatient and experienced set of eyes, you just might surprise yourself. “There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth.” I first read Great Expectations when I was thirteen years old It was the first of Dickens' works that I'd read of my own volition, the only other being Oliver Twist, which we'd studied parts of in school You know, I missed out on a lot when I was thirteen By this, I mean that I didn't always understand the deeper meaning lying beneath the surface of my favourite classics I favoured fastpaced and gritty stories and didn't understand the love for Austen (later cured) But there was something about Great Expectations that hit me hard on all levels and there was a deeper understanding I took from it even back then.I should say first of all, this book makes me feel sad Not a Lifetime movie emotionally overwrought passmethekleenex kind of sad I have read it several times and have never once cried while reading it But the book never fails to leave me with this hollow feeling that things could have been so different When I was a kid, I often wished I could jump inside the TV and warn the good guys not to do something; stop something horrible from happening This is that kind of book for me All the notknowing and mistaken assumptions that float between the characters in this novel is torture.Some readers don't like Dickens He's been called lacking in style, as well as a bunch of other things Well, I think he's like the Stephen King of the Victorian era He loves his drama, his characters are welldrawn but sometimes edging towards caricatures, he has a wonderful talent for painting a vivid picture of a scene in your mind but a bunch of his books are a hundred pages too long Whatever I love his stories And I love his characters.In Great Expectations, you have the orphaned Philip Pip Pirrip who has spent his short life being poor and being bullied by his sister who is also his guardian You have Joe Gargery, a kind man who also allows himself to be bullied by Pip's sister (his wife) Then you have the infamous Miss Havisham who was abandoned at the altar and now spends her days wandering around her mansion in her old wedding dress, hating men and raising the young Estella to be just like her “You are in every line I have ever read.” At its heart, this is a book about someone who is given an opportunity to have all their dreams come true, to be better than they ever thought they could be, to be loved by someone who they never thought would look at them We all yearn for something badly at times Imagine having the chance to get exactly what you always wanted Imagine becoming better and higher than you knew was possible Imagine having all of that and then realizing that perhaps the most important thing you ever had got left behind.Pip was always my favourite Dickens protagonist because he wants so much and I sympathise with him I can understand why he does what he does and why he wants what he wants But the saddest thing is that ambition can make you lose sight of other important things and Pip has a lot of hard lessons to learn along the way It's a book that was extremely relevant to the times when social class was of utmost importance in Britain Essentially, the book deconstructs what it means to be a gentlemen and makes a notsosubtle criticism of a classbased society.Who are the real gentlemen? The top hat wearing men of London with all their fine china and ceremony? Pip, who gets a chance to become one of them? Or Joe Gargery, the roughtalking blacksmith who even years later tells Pip: you and me was ever friends? There is a powerful lesson in here and I love it Even after all these years.Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram ”I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman, and that the figure upon which it now hung loose had shrunk to skin and bone.” How do you do Miss Havisham? She makes many lists of the twenty greatest characters from Dicken’s novels.I hadn’t ever met Miss Havisham officially, although I knew of her I have heard of her circumstances, discussed her in English Literature classes, and even referenced her in a paper She is a tragic figure tinged with true insanity; and yet, someone in complete control of her faculties when it comes to talking about HER money She was jilted at the altar and like a figure from mythology she is suspended in time She wears her tattered wedding dress every day and sits among the decaying ruins of her wedding feast We meet our hero Pip when in an act of charity bornof fear than goodwill he provides assistance to a selfliberated convict named Abel Magwitch It was a rather imprudent thing to do similar to one of us picking up a hitchhiker in an orange jumpsuit just after passing a sign that says Hitchhikers in this area may be escaped inmates Little does he know, but this act of kindness will have a long term impact on his life Pip and the Convict.Pip is being raised by his sister, an unhappy woman who expresses her misery with harsh words and vigorous smacks ”Tickler was a waxended piece of cane, worn smooth by collision with my tickled frame.” She also browbeats her burly blacksmith husband Joe into submission Mr Pumblechook, Joe’s Uncle, is always praising the sister for doing her proper duty by Pip Boy, be forever grateful to all friends, but especially unto them which brought you up by hand!” In other words she didn’t spare the rod or the child Mr Pumblechook is one of those annoying people who is always trying to gain credit for anyone’s good fortune He intimates that he was the puppet master pulling the strings that allowed that good fortune to find a proper home Later when Pip finds himself elevated to gentleman’s status Pumblechook is quick to try and garner credit for brokering the deal Things become interesting for Pip when is asked to be a play companion of Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter Estella The girl is being trained to be the architect of Miss Havisham’s revengeon all men She is the brutal combination of spoiled, beautiful, and heartless She wants Pip to fall in love with her to provide a training ground for exactly how to keep a man in love with her and at the same time treat him with the proper amount of disdain As Pip becomesensnared in Estella’s beauty Miss Havisham is spurring him on Love her, love her, love her! If she favors you, love her If she wounds you, love her If she tears your heart to pieces,— and as it gets older and stronger it will tear deeper,— love her, love her, love her! Never had I seen such passionate Estella, the weapon of man’s destruction, walking with Pip.Pip is fully aware of the dangers of falling in love with Estella, but it is almost impossible to control the heart when it begins to beat faster ”Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.” His hopes, almost completely dashed that he will ever have a legitimate opportunity to woo Estella properly are buoyed by the knowledge of a benefactor willing to finance his rise to gentleman status No chance suddenly becomes a slim chance Pip is not to know where these great expectations are coming from, but he assumes it is Miss Havisham as part of her demented plans for exacting revenge by using Estella to break his heart He is willing to be the patsy for her plans because some part of him believes he can turn the tide of Estella’s heart if he can find one beating in her chest You must know, said Estella, condescending to me as a brilliant and beautiful woman might, that I have no heart,— if that has anything to do with my memory.The book is of course filled with Dickensonian descriptions of the bleaker side of Victorian society ”We entered this haven through a wicketgate, and were disgorged by an introductory passage into a melancholy little square that looked to me like a flat buryingground I thought it had the most dismal trees in it, and the most dismal sparrows, and the most dismal cats, and the most dismal houses ( in number half a dozen or so), that I had ever seen.”As I was reading the book it felt like the plot suddenly sped up from a leisurely world building pace that permeates most Dickens novels to the final laps of an Indy 500 race I was not surprised to discover that Dickens had intended this novel to be twice as long, but due to contractual obligations with the serialization of the novel Dickens found himself in a quandary He had a much larger story percolating in his head, but simply out of room to print it Nothing drives a reader crazier than knowing that this larger concept was realized, but never committed to paper The rest of Great Expectations exists only in the lost dreams of Dickens.Pip is a willing victim; and therefore, not a victim because he fully realized that Miss Havisham was barking mad, and that Estella had been brainwashed into being a sword of vengeance He was willing to risk having his heart wrenched from his body and dashed into the sea for a chance that Estella would recognize that happiness could be obtained if she would only forsake her training Pip like most young men of means spentthan his stipend allowed and as debts mount he isandanxious to learn of his benefactor’s intentions It will not be what he expects and provides a nice twist to the novel There are blackguards, adventures, near death experiences, swindlers, agitations both real and imagined, and descriptions that make the reader savor the immersion in the black soot and blacker hearts of Victorian society Better late than never, but I now havethan a nodding acquaintance with Miss Havisham, Pip, and the supporting cast They will continue to live in my imagination for the rest of my life.If you wish to seeof my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at: