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Top Customer Reviews
Like practically every other American student, I encountered Dickens's "Great Expectations" (hereafter GE) in an abridged version in junior high, then the complete text when I was much older. In my opinion, GE is a glorious (not glorified) soap opera chronicling the wildly fluctuating vicissitudes of Philip Pirrip's (Pip's) eventful life, from an orphaned, tormented child apprenticed to genial blacksmith Joe to, by a turn of ironic fate, a wealthy "gentleman" of leisure. As been often noted, Dickens created worlds, if not universes, in his novels, and GE is certainly no exception. In this review, I will try to avoid detailing the plot, which is already well-known. Instead, I will comment upon Dickens's use of backstory and flashback to flesh out most of the major characters in the novel.
Even the most colorful, flamboyant characters in GE are not one-dimensional or stereotypically good or evil. We learn how Miss Havisham's marital jilting by Arthur compelled her to become a spectral recluse in her gloomy estate. We learn how Miss Havisham's misanthropic upbringing caused her frosty ward Estella (whose name suggests a blazing but distant star) to become an inaccessible man-hater. We learn how Magwitch, Pip's surprising benefactor, became a convict through cynical ad hominem prosecution in the barbaric English court system, was transported to the penal colony that was Australia, and how he acquired the money through hardship just to help the orphan Pip, who showed him mercy at the graveyard, and why he risked arrest in London to see his gentleman. We learn that Estella's mother, servant to Mr.Read more ›
SPOILER: a lot of people didn't like the new ending that Dickens wrote, saying it is too happy and that the original depressing ending was superior. I actually didn't like the original ending and didn't find the newer one to be too joyous. I read the new ending as Pip being doomed to always love Estella, making it more depressing than the original. Anyway, that was my take.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Compared to other Dickens' books I have read, this one is the most bizarre and strange story, and it took a little bit of adjustment to get into it. Read morePublished on January 12, 2012 by whj
I simply loved this book. The characters are so rich, and the story so intricate and well written, I found it engrossing from beginning to end. Read morePublished on January 1, 2012 by Michael S.