So the latest book that I had the pleasure reading was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, his most famous works which was published in 1861.
The writing style or literature Dickens use can come across very “old” or old-fashion to the modern readers. At first I thought that it would take me longer to read because of its archaic (just me wanting to show off my vocabulary a bit, lol, but just another word for old-fashion) style but it is surprisingly easy to follow. The novel is actually quite good with some gripping chapters and it is written in the first person. Maybe it starts off very slow in the beginning which seems to kind of drag the book at first but then as you get past the tarry part of the novel then it becomes entertaining.
The book is written around a main character named Pip, an orphaned boy, taken in by his strict sister who just loves to hand out beatings as she sees fit and the sister’s husband who is the blacksmith in their town. They live in an unnamed poverty stricken town near the marshes on the coast of the Thames and at a young age, Pip has made peace with the fact that his life will never become better than what it already is and that he will become a blacksmith when he grows up, just like his brother-in-law. Then an anonymous benefactor leaves him with a great amount of money and he then moves to London where he starts moving and socialising in “higher circles”. The more he becomes accepted in the “rich” society, the more he becomes ashamed of his humble origins and this start changing him in many ways until disaster strikes him… So let me not spoil this novel by telling it all for now…
A short excerpt from Chapter 17 (one of my many favourites):
“And now, because my mind was not confused enough before, I complicated its confusion fifty thousand-fold, by having states and seasons when I was clear that Biddy was immeasurably better than Estella, and that the plain honest working life to which I was born, had nothing in it to be ashamed of, but offered me sufficient means of self-respect and happiness. At those times, I would decide conclusively that my disaffection to dear old Joe and the forge, was gone, and that I was growing up in a fair way to be partners with Joe and to keep company with Biddy – when all in a moment some confounding remembrance of the Havisham days would fall upon me, like a destructive missile, and scatter my wits again. Scattered wits take a long time picking up; and often, before I had got them well together, they would be dispersed in all directions by one stray thought, that perhaps after all Miss Havisham was going to make my fortune when my time was out.
If my time had run out, it would have left me still at the height of my perplexities, I dare say. It never did run out, however, but was brought to a premature end, as I proceed to relate.”
To summarise that extract, this is when he takes a walk with Biddy (Pip’s teacher and Pip’s sister’s caregiver) on a Sunday afternoon and confides in her about how dissatisfied he is with his place in life and about his love for Estella (adopted daughter of Miss Havisham). So when Biddy tells him to stay away from Estella, he gets angry with Biddy but yet becomes jealous when Orlick (a blacksmith at Pip’s brother-in-law’s forge) tries to flirt with Biddy.
Why is this one of my favourite excerpts?
This shows exactly that you will never know what you have until you have lost it. Biddy shows her obvious love for Pip but he chose to ignore it and tries to pursue Estella, who does not even have any feelings for Pip. He did not give Biddy a second thought, even though he had feelings for Biddy and when he realise his error in the choice that he made and when he realise his mistakes and goes back for Biddy of course, it was too late…
So in a nutshell, the novel chronicles the main character’s experiences from childhood to adulthood and portrays the psychological development of the main character. Great Expectations has not a particular genre as it is a story of mystery, twists, passion and love. I really enjoyed reading this novel and if I should rate it, I would give it 4 out of 5.
Image sourced here