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Great Expectations Paperback – Dec 31 2002
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Dickens considered Great Expectations one of his "little pieces," and indeed, it is slim compared to such weighty novels as David Copperfield or Nicholas Nickleby. But what this cautionary tale of a young man raised high above his station by a mysterious benefactor lacks in length, it more than makes up for in its remarkable characters and compelling story. The novel begins with young orphaned Philip Pirrip--Pip--running afoul of an escaped convict in a cemetery. This terrifying personage bullies Pip into stealing food and a file for him, threatening that if he tells a soul "your heart and your liver shall be tore out, roasted and ate." The boy does as he's asked, but the convict is captured anyway, and transported to the penal colonies in Australia. Having started his novel in a cemetery, Dickens then ups the stakes and introduces his hero into the decaying household of Miss Havisham, a wealthy, half-mad woman who was jilted on her wedding day many years before and has never recovered. Pip is brought there to play with Miss Havisham's ward, Estella, a little girl who delights in tormenting Pip about his rough hands and future as a blacksmith's apprentice.
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 it became infectious, and I caught it.It is an infection that Pip never quite recovers from; as he spends more time with Miss Havisham and the tantalizing Estella, he becomes more and more discontented with his guardian, the kindhearted blacksmith, Joe, and his childhood friend Biddy. When, after several years, Pip becomes the heir of an unknown benefactor, he leaps at the chance to leave his home and friends behind to go to London and become a gentleman. But having expectations, as Pip soon learns, is a two-edged sword, and nothing is as he thought it would be. Like that other "little piece," A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations is different from the usual Dickensian fare: the story is dark, almost surreal at times, and you'll find few of the author's patented comic characters and no comic set pieces. And yet this is arguably the most compelling of Dickens's novels for, unlike David Copperfield or Martin Chuzzlewit, the reader can never be sure that things will work out for Pip. Even Dickens apparently had his doubts--he wrote two endings for this novel. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"No story in the first person was ever better told."See all Product Description
Inside This Book(Learn More)
My father's family name being Pirrip, and my christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
Believe me, we can all assure you that this can be a difficult book for a ninth grader to enjoy. After all, we're talking about blacksmiths, pirates, and so on. Hardly things the average teenager of the 2000s can relate to.
But if you're in your twenties, thirties, or forties, this book is as compelling a novel as you'll ever read. It's an opportunity to look back at Pip and ourselves, the great expectations we all have, and the major surprises, disappointments, and regrets of life.
The adult reader can understand the vindictiveness of Miss Havisham, the pride of Magwitch, the true and rare friendship of Herbert Pocket, and, of course, Estella. Each man has in his life an Estella.
Beyond the true-to-life tale of hope and defeat, is the wry humor throughout the book that a more mature reader can appreciate.
Surprise yourself. If you hated this in high school, pick it up now; you may find this is one of the best books you ever read.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS is now #1 on my all-time favorites list. While, admittedly, it took me roughly 150 pages to get any enjoyment out of the novel- once I was in- I was hooked. Pip's journey through life is a very refreshing look at how distorted we let our lives become by focusing on the unimportant. Dicken's ability to slowly alter Pip's views on life, without changing his essential character/morales (Ex. How Pip looks to help his friend in his business pursuits). Some have called "Great Expecations" his masterpiece... but in my opinion, it may be the "Masterpiece" of English Literature.
I also wonder why this is required High School reading. While I loved this book at age 28, I think most 16 year-olds would find it unbearable. It seems like such a waist to ruin both the book and Dicken's name on minds that are not ready for such a reading task. Would also highly recommend two other books: LIFE OF PI and a book titled BARK OF THE DOGWOOD.
The characters are straightforward, captivating and likeable. Totally removed from any realistic complexity, they are all the more memorable: naïve, honest Pip; distant, cold, condescending Estella; devoted, loyal, simple-minded Joe; mysterious, ethereal Miss Havisham; etc.
The plot, convoluted, wholly implausible and a tad predictable, evokes harsher but so much simpler times. Though by no means a cliff-hanger, the work is suspenseful and the reader's interest is expertly sustained throughout.
Extremely well written, peppered with tongue in cheek humour, this archetypal novel is strongly recommended to any audience, particularly in audio form.
Most recent customer reviews
I took me almost a whole year to finish this book. I had stopped in the middle of it, growing exceedingly annoyed at Pip and his faults. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Elune