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. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip. -From Great Expectations, page 1-
Pip grows up in a small English village, an orphan who is raised by the abusive hand of his older sister. Pip also lives with Joe – a forger with a kind heart and gentle spirit. Fate introduces Pip to the beautiful Estella (adopted daughter of the strange and damaged Mrs. Havisham) whose comment about Pip being a commoner changes his world view and sets him upon a destructive path. When Pip one day receives a gift of a large sum of money from an unknown benefactor, he follows a course of misguided expectations and dark mysteries.
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens hefty classic – is about the cleansing process of human suffering, redemption, the consequences of living a material life, and the loyalty of family bonds.
Dickens includes some memorable characters in this gothic style novel. Most notably Mrs. Havisham who suffers from a broken heart and lives in mostly darkness among her ruined wedding gown.
I must admit to struggling to get through this book. Victorian era literature is wordy and includes endless details of everyday life that I found tedious. The middle third of the book dragged for me, but the novel redeems itself over the last third when the reader begins to uncover the mysteries and Pip sees the error of his ways.
I wanted to love this novel. I have read The Tale of Two Cities, as well as A Christmas Carol – and loved both of these. I know I must have read Great Expectations in high school, but I honestly have no firm recollection of it. The truth is, I found it to be a mostly boring story with a good ending. Not something I would recommend to most people. Although if you love Victorian literature, you may find the novel satisfying.