Great Expectations (Penguin Classics)
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An absorbing mystery as well as a morality tale, the story of Pip, a poor village lad, and his expectations of wealth is Dickens at his most deliciously readable. The cast of characters includes kindly Joe Gargery, the loyal convict Abel Magwitch and the haunting Miss Havisham. If you have heartstrings, count on them being tugged.

A terrifying encounter with an escaped convict in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the bitter, decaying Miss Havisham and her beautiful, cold-hearted ward Estella; the sudden generosity of a mysterious benefactor - these form a series of events that change the orphaned Pip's life forever, and he eagerly abandons his humble origins to begin a new life as a gentleman. Dickens' haunting late novel depicts Pip's education and development through adversity as he discovers thetrue nature of his 'great expectations'.

Cambridge Literature is a series of literary texts edited for study by students aged 14-18 in English-speaking classrooms. It will include novels, poetry, short stories, essays, travel-writing and other non-fiction. The series will be extensive and open-ended and will provide school students with a range of edited texts taken from a wide geographical spread.

Customer Reviews:

  • I actually read this book
    Like several of the people on this review page, I had to read this book for a 9th grade English assignment. Unlike most of the people in my class, I read the whole book and liked it. The book is about a young English boy named Phillip "Pip" Pirrip living in 1800s England. He is the son of a blacksmith and then is invited to play at an old woman's house. The impression Pip gets from the old woman and her daughter is that Pip isn't good enough. From then on, he grows up and tries to get better for his life after getting a fortune, but things go downhill from that as he gets deep in debt and becomes ill. This book is by no means perfect and has plenty of flaws. The book is way too wordy and could probably be half as long as it is and still get a good point across. I also felt that the ending of the book was a little strange, but overall it was an okay book and I was not bored with it at any point....more info
  • Too Many COINCIDENCES!!
    Great Expectations has a few interesting characters. I'll give it that. Magwitch and Miss Havisham are definitely original and entertaining. But everyone else is pretty bland.

    Pip's love for Estella is rather pathetic. Why he would love such a despicable person is beyond me. This fact alone makes Pip difficult to relate to, and thus not a very good choice for the point-of-view character.

    But the one thing that absolutely ruins this book is the clutter of coincidences. One of the first rules of fiction writing is NO COINCIDENCES. And Dickens goes out of his way to break this rule. Over. And Over. And Over.

    Really, it is not a very good book. Please do not wasted your money on it (although there are a LOT of pages, so it could last you months as toilet paper...more info
  • INTERESTING
    I found most of the book a good read. I was suprised by who Pip's benefactor was but that's what a good book is suppose to do. Intregue you, suprise you.... I didn't enjoy the ending though I thought with all that went on in the book that there would be a different approach to the ending. ...more info
  • What A Wonderful Cure For Insomnia!
    I was forced to read this book in my English class this year, and I almost died. For a more thrilling read, try a dictionary or a phone book....more info
  • Improbable coincidences, a typical Dickens cast, a moral lesson
    As usual with Dickens, improbable coincidences abound. They are artfully presented however and Dickens does offer one or two surprises.

    For one thing, the novel is quite violent. Dickens graphically describes one character dying from burns. He presents a ruffian or two. Even one of the better gentlemen manhandles his maid.

    Also as usual with Dickens, we find a full cast of memorable well-defined characters. Mr Jaggers, the lawyer to beat all lawyers, and his assistant Mr. Wemmick who never mixes business and home matters, except under exceptional circumstances. We find Miss Havesham a wealthy but bitter spinster left at the altar years before. We meet Joe Gargery, a wise well-meaning blacksmith who lovingly raises Pip, the novel's main character, taking him on as his apprentice. Pip leaves him when fortune mysteriously smiles on him. An unknown benefactor gives our hero a substantial income so that he may fulfill his Great Expectations and become a gentleman of means and of leasure.

    And there you have Pip in a nutshell: he leaves a loving home, a kind man and a good position to become a man of the world, a man about town, in short a bit of a parasite.

    But then to become a man of means is for Dickens to have attained heaven on earth and he only lets the truly good enjoy their fortune. Jaggers is rich and cannot be called good, at worst he is amoral, but he is a man of action. On the other hand the thoughtless and ungrateful Pip doesn't deserve heaven. Not just yet.

    Vincent Poirier, Tokyo...more info
  • A Timeless Classic!!!! My favorite Book!!!!!!
    This is a great book. It has a rich plot and very good characters. It does not lag on at all. The people that say that Great Expectations lags, probably are at a 2nd grade reading level. And they fail to realize that Dickens wrote this back in Victorian England times. So the language and style are that of classical English. But nevertheless, this book is fast and exciting. But make sure that you:

    Read the Unabridged version.
    Read this on your own time. It will not be fun if you have to read it in a set time or are forced to speed read it. (Like when I first was forced to read the abridged version in school, in ONE month... not enough lesure time)

    But if you really read it... really consider it... really digest it, it is a great book.
    I would also recomend that you do not speed your way through. Take your time, and enjoy it in a calm enviroment.

    That is why I say that it is my favorite book.
    And my favorite character in this book is Herbert "The Pale Young Gentleman".
    This is a timeless classic.
    I promise you will love it if you approach it with an open mind, and most of all...
    A sense of good humor.
    Thank you,
    And Enjoy!...more info
  • Great Book Over Most People's Heads
    After reading a bunch of these reviews, I've come to the conclusion that this book should not be pushed on high school students or younger. It's almost sad to read a review from someone who just read the cliff notes. Come on now, do we really need to hear from you? This is my favorite Dickens novel so far, and though I haven't read them all, I loved everything about it. Though the ending is happy, it is by no means a Hollywood ending. Would recommend to any SERIOUS reader that wants to read authentic period prose and a great story....more info
  • Puffin Classics: Charles Dickens
    I read Charles Dickens's book Great Expectations. This book is about a young boy named Pip. Pip lives with his older sister Mrs. Gargery who is married to a black smith named Joe. Early in the book Pip meets an escaped convict that was on the run. He may not know it yet but the convict will have a lasting affect on him. When Joe finds out about the convict he asks Pip to help the police catch him. After a quick battle the convict and his partner are caught. Later in the book Pip meets Miss Haversham whose cold ward Estella Pip adores. An unknown person pays for Pip to go to London and become a gentleman.
    Charles Dickens is a wonderful writer. The Great Expectations is a great example of Dickens writing power. Moby Dick and other books are just as well done. I enjoyed reading the Great Expectations it was a long and detailed story of adventure and affection. I hope you enjoyed reading it too.
    ...more info
  • Marvellous
    This is an incredible masterpiece of storytelling. Charles Dickens is witty and intelligent. He creates characters that you are able to warm to and he is able to sculpt a brilliant plot. Without putting in any spoilers i will let you know that the main character PiP, definitely got what he expected ! and he learnt something in the process - that character is far more valuable than status - even the status of being a gentleman !!"...more info
  • True Confessions of a High School Teacher
    I've taught this book in 9th grade for years because it is a curriculum requirement. During that time, I have raved about the incredible abilities of Dickens to create memorable characters, plot fascinating fiction, make the lives of ordinary people in England memorable, write incredibly descriptive passages . . . .

    The time has come to tell the truth. While it may be a great *work of literature*, Great Expectations is a tough book to like.

    There is much to appreciate - in the intellectual sense of the word - about GE, from carefully drawn characters to an infinitely detailed plot. Without exception, students love to play *connect the characters* as the novel progresses. They discuss the unrequited love between Pip and Estella, Biddy and Pip - they love the relationship between Joe and Pip. They are fascinated and repulsed by Miss Havisham and her house. They are shocked by Magwitch, and enthralled by his sacrifice. Truly, this has all the makings of a 9th grade *hit*! So what's the problem? Language,length, and format.

    The language is off-putting. So much is colloquial to the time and difficult to bring current. Joe's dialect (along with the convict's) is VERY difficult for my deep south students to imitate when reading aloud, and sometimes even difficult for them to decipher at all. Sentences can go on (and on and on and on and on) so that the end hardly seems connected to the beginning. While common when Dickens was writing, these patterns are a bit difficult for a modern audience.

    Length and format are a problem that go together. Originally published as a serial, this novel was presented a chapter or two at a time, with a wait between installments. That allowed a reader to digest the events in a chapter, contemplate the relationships, discuss them with friends and build up anticipation for the next installment. By virtue of that style, many side-stories are included that have little bearing on the overall plot. Likewise, there is much detail included that seems almost irrelevant when one is reading the novel in full. Those are the very things that fostered interest in the serial, and yet in a novel, they seem extraneous and confusing. At the end, the novel seems (just a bit) overwritten (and perhaps that is because it wasn't originally a novel).

    In summary, my feelings about this novel are mixed. The story itself is fascinating, but I find myself eternally dreading that time of year when I will yet again introduce it to another crop of unsuspecting students . . ....more info
  • "I Must Be Taken as I Have Been Made..."
    Certainly one of the most famous of Dickens's novels (right up there with Oliver Twist (Penguin Classics) and David Copperfield (Penguin Classics)), Great Expectations follows a familiar coming-of-age narrative as young Phillip Pirrip - better known as "Pip" - negotiates the rocky road to adulthood in early 19th century London. One of only two of Dickens's novels that are written in first person narrative (the other being David Copperfield), Great Expectations is a fascinating tale of ambition, love, regret, missed chances and redemption, topped off with an adequately ambiguous ending (more on that later).

    Raised by his tyrannical sister and her kind, doting husband Joe, Pip is contented enough to become a blacksmith and live out his life by the misty Kent marshlands. That is until he is unexpectedly thrown into the path of two extraordinary people. The first is a convict, escaped from the prison barges offshore, a terrifying man who coerces the young Pip into stealing him some supplies from his sister's larder. Stricken by guilt and terror, Pip complies. The second is the mysterious Miss Havisham, a spinster woman who employs Pip as a playmate for her young ward, the beautiful Estella. Estella is regal, snobbish and cold - naturally, Pip falls head over heels in love with her, despite the realization that she's far beyond his status. Wretchedly aware of his own shortcomings, Pip yearns for a chance to make a gentleman of himself, and win the hand of fair Estella.

    And then, just as unexpectedly, fortune is thrown his way. He is informed by Miss Havisham's lawyer that a secret benefactor has endowed him with great expectations, and that he is to travel to London in order to prepare for his future. The only catch is that Pip is forbidden from investigating the origins of his newfound fortune, although logic dictates that it must be Miss Havisham, who surely has designs for both Pip and Estella. Locked up in a house full of bitter memories after she was jilted by her lover, Miss Havisham is certainly one of Dickens's most famous creations, with her own disturbing brand of revenge against mankind: to unleash her prot¨¦g¨¦e Estella out upon the world, to break hearts wherever she goes.

    Dickens has created a twisty and labyrinthine plot, with plenty of intrigue and adventure throughout, as familial bonds, secret alliances and loyalty among friends and work colleges are tried and tested. In typical Dickensian style, there are several extraordinary coincidences concerning shrouded parentage and wayward meetings, but everything hangs so well together that it's instantly forgivable. "Great Expectations" is Dickens at his best in terms of plotting and characterization; though there is a melancholy twinge throughout that no doubt stems from Dickens's personal trouble (he had recently divorced his wife, and has carrying on a stress-filled love affair with a young actress). As such, romanticized domestic bliss that so often concludes a Dickens's novel (reflective of Dickens's own longing for such a state) is completely absent here. The domestic angel-woman that is given so many names and forms throughout the canon of Dickens novels (here called Biddy, though she is virtually identical to dozens of other Dickens heroines) comes to a surprising end in "Great Expectations", as does Pip himself.

    Pip himself is certainly an interesting character; in that he is woefully aware of his own shortcomings, yet unable drop certain attitudes that make him miserable. After becoming accustomed to the life at Miss Havisham's manor house, he is frustrated to find that he now holds his beloved brother-in-law Joe in contempt, embarrassed at his low breeding and lack of gentlemanly manners (despite the fact that Joe was always his staunch ally against Pip's terrible sister, and the epitome of the virtuous commoner). Likewise is Pip's self acknowledgment that his love for Estella never brings him any happiness, only pain and longing. The fact that Pip is narrating his own story from a point in time *beyond* the proceedings mean that we are never overly critical of Pip, considering he is his own harshest critic when relating his behaviour - and it certainly makes you consider your own shortcomings.

    This is not to say that the whole story is woe and misery, as there are plenty of comedic characters that help lighten the mood, such as Pip's best friend Herbert Pocket, who (at their first meeting) challenges him to a fight, and Mr Wemmick, who survives his job by assuming two personalities: a grim and dour one during working hours, and a cheerful one when he returns home. There are several moments of humour in Pip himself, (though they are usually tempered by a sense of disappointment or miscommunication) such as his misreading of his parent's gravestone, or his excitement in reaching London gradually dissipating when he realizes that...well, that it's a bit of a hole.

    Last of all, there has already been several mentions in other reviewers about the fact that there are two endings to this novel; the first was considered too melancholy by Dickens's publishers, and so was revised (although to be fair, Dickens's himself didn't seem to put up too much of a fight, suggesting that he himself was divided on the issue). The published ending is still ambiguous, yet with room for hope (at least in the mind of Pip) as to the future with Estella. Now, most agree that the original ending is more powerful, and I have to agree. However, I do issue a warning *not* to read both endings in the same sitting. In my edition the original ending was added in an appendix directly after the conclusion to the book, and because it is so drastically different to the published ending, it disrupted my appreciation of the novel. I was left in two minds as to what truly happened. So if you're a serious reader, do yourself a favour and decide what ending you want to go with *before* you finish the book. It may be a tricky business, but it'll enhance your enjoyment of one of Dickens's best novels....more info
  • Hands down best book I've ever read
    I can't give this book enough praise. I read David Copperfield after, which was supposedly Dickens' most belove character, but I enjoyed GE much more. You won't be disappointed....more info
  • Dark and Rich
    "Great Expectations" is a thoroughly engaging novel. We find a set of interweaving story lines that rival today's best movies ('Crash' comes to mind. Sorry! I digress, already.) Anyway, as usual, the protagonist and narrator, Pip, bears all the innocense of Dickens' best characters. He is able to observe all the qualities and idiosyncracies of the good, the bad, and the ugly in Victorian England. As another orphan character, he is "brought up by hand" by his strict and nasty sister with the help of his brother-in-law, Joe Gargery, a benevolent blacksmith. The plot moves quickly as he comes upon an escaped convict who coerces him to get him food and a file. He finds the experience all too much, for he is in a no-win situation. He manages to escape this escapade with grace, but not the situation his sister places him into. She forces him upon the company of Miss Havisham, an old, bitter woman who has never recovered from being jilted early in life. Through her he meets a young woman, named Estella, and falls hopelessly in love. Through Havisham's patronage, he becomes an apprenticed gentleman as well as Joe's apprenticed blacksmith; then he obtains wealth from a mysterious benefactor. From these experiences, he acquires a gentleman's demeanor as well as a gentleman's appetite for money.

    "Great Expectations" is a worthy classic book experience. The characters are drawn well, especially Miss Havisham. (The images Dickens uses for her and her surroundings are among the most memorable of the novel.) It defines what true wealth is, and juxtaposes well the pompous and the hypocritical characters with the genuine and good. 'Great Expectations' demonstrates, more than it preaches, about the virtues presented. Also, the plot lines run together in a way that is so skillful, it hardly seems contrived. There is also some good irony and suspense thrown in for good measure. "Great Expectations" is a decent and enjoyable reading voyage. ...more info
  • Great Expectations
    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is a timeless 19th century novel that addresses issues in life that remain relevant today. In particular, it explores the modern individual's personal development through experiences that span from youth to adulthood.

    In Great Expectations, Dickens employs several techniques to effectively portray the personal development of the main character Pip. The title, Great Expectations, is significant because it reveals that the plot focuses on Pip's aspirations in life. The novel is a first person narrative, with an older Pip retelling and commenting on past events that had an influence on his social development. This element allows the reader to observe how a young Pip reacted to events in his life and how an older and more mature Pip interprets these events years later. A recurring theme throughout Great Expectations is the class system of Victorian England and the significance of social status. Pip struggles with the issue of social status throughout the novel and must come to the realization that social status is not connected to one's real character.

    In his novel Great Expectations, Charles Dickens combined aspects of his own life, with his knowledge of human behavior, to create a realistic portrayal of an individual's personal development. The novel's portrayal is so clear and its content so relevant that it continues to be read and analyzed over a century after it was first written.



    ...more info
  • Is it over yet?
    Like many other reviewers, I have been dragged into reading this book by a literature class. The story line is mildly interesting, but most of the book contains fluff that is pointless and you just have to suffer through. The language is also very difficult to understand and not a "skimmable" book, by any means. If you really insist on reading this book, I would suggest getting the SparkNotes or the Cliff Notes. They tell you all you need to know: There's an orphan. His name is Pip. By a chain of events, Pip recieves a great deal of money. He moves to London and becomes extremely arrogent. And it goes on. Not the most enjoyable endeavor. ...more info
  • Great Seller.
    This book got to me fast and in great condition, and at a great price!...more info
  • he he heeee
    this book basically bored me to tears, it's one of those books that you really have to be into from the beginning to get the story at all, like harry potter or lord of the rings. main point = if you're not a charles dickens fan, the amazon description doesn't amaze you, and even you've read it before and reallllyyyyy disliked, then this book is not for you. ...more info
  • BO-RING!
    This book by far is the worst piece of shi--garbage I have ever laid my eyes on. The story has a skeleton, and a little bit of meat (and I like meat), but mostly, it's just fat. Especially the second stage of Pip's expectations, which finds Pip devoid of any characterizations beyond "I'm rich and you're not," and "Oh, how I do love the lady Estella." It's enough to make you vomit. Mr. Dickens should have made this a much shorter novel, or maybe even a short story. It still would have been boring, but maybe not as boring. ...more info
  • Not so great
    I'm surprised that this book is a requirement in highschool. I had to read it in my upper division English Lit class in college and I just couldn't get into it. There are way too many retarded characters on which Dickens spends too much time, Pip gets more annoying with every page, especially his love for Estella who is one of the most disgusting characters in the book. I've read Jane Eyre before this and it was a real page turner. This is plain boring....more info
  • "Brought up by hand"
    This is another book which is forced upon unsuspecting high school students. With many younger reviewers giving this classic 1 and 2 stars shows that this novel will not be appreciated by most studetns. If you hated this book in high school I recommend picking it up again after college.

    This novel follows the protagonist Pip, from inncocent boy, to dreaming adolecent, to proud gentelman, and comes full circle to the disullusioned adult. Tha characters he meets along the way are some of the most memorable in english literature, especially Miss Havishham, Estella, and Magwitch. Dickens also treats us, about half-way through, to perhaps the best twist of any novel I've ever read.

    The only thing I at first disliked about this novel were the bizarre coincidinces which caused seemingly unrelated characters to actually have close histories with each other. But I reconciled this for myself in the following way: A major theme of this novel are the machinations of characters to control other characters. Well we must not forget that there are meta-machiantions above this by Dickens himself, and for that all readers can be thankful....more info
  • Where is the ending?
    Dickens was actually a good writer, but he never could come up with a decent ending. His stories were well written, and the characters were interesting, especially in this book. This story follows the life of a young boy as he grows up and tries to make a place for himself in the world. He meets some interesting characters that, at times, get the better of him. He also falls in love with an unattainable woman. The story carries on without a climax, without a point, without resolution, and, ultimately, without an ending. It just abruptly stops. I think this was the best book I read by Dickens, which isn't saying much....more info
  • Great work
    This book is a masterpiece of fiction. Until you read the book you don't realize just how influential this story is in western literature....more info
  • Delightful Read
    Many people scoffed this book back in my freshman English class, because it was Dickens, and Dickens meant "boring" to them. However, shrug off the normal tendencies to stereotype an old-time classic to be a bore, one can find a true delight in this beautiful story of a young man struggling with an impossible love, the pressures of money and society, and, of course, himself. It is an excellent, absolutely enriching read....more info
  • You can never go wrong with Dickens
    How nice to reread an old classic as an adult, instead of in the classroom. A wonderful novel of Pip who comes into his "great expectations" via an unknown benefactor -- who he believes to be Miss Havisham. We see how the influence of money and position affect Pip's relations with his family and former neighbors, and not necessarily for the better. There are lots of surprise twists and turns in the plot, especially about Miss Havisham and her adopted "daughter" Estella and her true parentage.

    As always, a Dickens novel is peopled with wonderful and unusual characters that eventually all play a part in telling the story. I noticed another reviewer said there were two endings. The version I read had only one ending and I don't know which one it was. I will have to search out another version to see which I liked best....more info
  • Hello! My name is Pip! I'm an annoying little crybaby with no personality! Will you join me for tea and crumpets?
    I started reading this over a month ago and I'm still not finished. I can't get into it at all! It's like a really boring nightmare! I mean, the parts that take place at Satis House are mildly interesting, but no part of it seems to be building up to anything. The story moves so slowly that at times you'd swear it wasn't moving at all, and, to be sure, at times, it isn't! It's just sitting there in its stupid rocking chair knitting and petting its cat by the fire, which isn't even burning! OMG!
    You want to read something fast paced and interesting?
    Try Daniel White's Hellstone, available right here at amazon.com (plug). Now that's a good book. White's influences span the ages, and don't skip Victorian, if that's what you're into, which you obviously are, or why would you be here?
    Don't get me wrong. I like Victorian literature. A Christmas Carol is a very good story, as is Dracula, and Frankenstein, and most of Poe's works. It's just this particular book that I don't like...and anything by Jane Austen.
    In conclusion, buy Hellstone. You'll be happy you did. ...more info
  • Why don't I do something fun like beat my head against the wall for three hours?
    A guy I work with read this book and it seemed like he was reading it for three years! Every day he sat there with his legs crossed sipping his tea and reading Great Expectations, spending about an hour on every page! What an aristocrat. It was brutal!
    Than I tried to read the book.
    I couldn't get past the first stage or the first part or whatever because it was so f*cking boring i thought my f*cking head was going to explode! NOTHING HAPPENED!
    That freak I work with didn't like it either.
    I'm just surprised he could read the whole thing without completely losing his mind....more info
  • fantastic read
    This is one of my favorite Dickens books, detailing a lifelong love story between Pip and Estella. So sometimes the circumstances aren't realistic - so what? TV shows these days aren't either. Pip is a likeable character, and the various other characters represent real forces in our society. This is a great novel....more info
  • Always a favorite!
    I was brought kicking and screaming to this story thanks to high school English Lit requirements but it ended up being my favorite of the term. I loved and hated various major characters strongly which is why I just couldn't put it down until I was finished.

    I've seen film versions since reading this book and I've never seen anything live up to the experience of the text. This is a classic to add to your home library....more info
  • Great book, man. Dickens was a genius.
    Dudes. You gotta read this book. It's totally awesome.
    Charles described the people and places so well, it's like its real and your there with everybody.
    Pip and Estella's love story might be the greatest love story in history. Greater than Rhett and Scarlet. Greater than Romeo and Juliet. Greater than Spiderman and Mary Jane. Yes, it's that good.
    Sure, there are plenty of movies, but none do it justice. Its like the Scarlet Letter. You've gotta read it. ...more info
  • An amazing novel
    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is one of the greatest novels I have read. First, I admit, I have difficult transitioning to Dicken's novels. They are written in English, but not in the version of the langauge I speak. However, after reading for a while, I am able to adjust to his style.

    This novel is great for many reasons. First, it helps me to understand the poverty and hardships faced by the poor in England during his time. Whenever I read one of Dicken's novels, I am always left with an attitude of gratitude. Additionally, in this novel, nothing works out the way I expect or want it to. I wish that Pip would not have acted as he did once he came into his great expectations. I wish that things could have worked out differently with Miss Havisham and Estella. But, the ending is well done. The twists are what I enjoy most from Dicken's novels. I highly recommend this novel....more info
  • A true masterpiece
    I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever that Charles Dickens, if he lived today, would still classify as an author's author. He's a master of all the things that make for great writing and storytelling. Dickens has an ear for dialogue most authors would kill their own mothers to possess. He also is a master of creating vivid scenery, another sign of excellence essential to great writing and one which many authors lack. Finally, but not least in importance, Dickens knows character development. He REALLY knows how to develop intriguing characters, to the point where many of his books spawned figures that have become literary archetypes. Not bad for a guy who grew up in extremely adverse circumstances. He even spent some time in a factory sticking labels on bottles after his father's imprisonment for debt. Most people wouldn't recover from such poverty, but Dickens did. He went on to a successful career in journalism before settling down as an author of serial novels. This format, which allowed Dickens to write and release his stories piecemeal, made him a great success with the public. The anticipation for the latest chapter or two of his stories often led to near riots. Not many writers can elicit such a response today.

    Many consider "Great Expectations" a seminal work by a master. Millions have read it, most unwillingly, but most consider it one of Dickens's most accessible stories. It's a tale about a youngster named Phillip Pirrip, known throughout the story as Pip, and his rise from relative obscurity to the heights of wealth and privilege. As the story opens, we see Pip lamenting the passing of his parents in the local cemetery. Their deaths resulted in Pip living with an older sister and her blacksmith husband Joe. Life is tough in Pip's village. His sister wields a heavy hand against her younger brother, relatives like Uncle Pumblechook berate him, and they live in a place where convicts often escape from barges floating on the river nearby. In fact, Pip has a frightening encounter with one of these prisoners at the beginning of the book. His actions, undertaken at the command of this felon, result in a series of incidents that lead Pip to the home of the local recluse, a dour old woman by the name of Havisham. This woman, as rich as a lord but as unhappy as one could ever be, takes a liking to Pip and keeps him around for entertainment.

    It is during his tenure as Havisham's court jester that Pip comes into contact with several important figures that feature prominently in the story's later episodes. He meets the cold yet beautiful Estella, Havisham's adopted daughter, and falls in love with her. He also makes an initial contact with the old lady's lawyer, the highly successful Mr. Jaggers, and an odd young man named Herbert. All play an integral part in what is to follow, namely the announcement (through Jaggers) that Pip has suddenly come into fortune, or great expectations, that require him to move to London in order to train as a gentlemen. In London Pip spends time with Jaggers, his assistant Wemmick, Herbert, and even Estella. He spends his money, helps his best friend in covert ways, and wonders who in the world set him up with this money and property. Jaggers makes it clear that he isn't supposed to dig too deep concerning the origins of the fortune. Instead, he is to wait until the day when the individual responsible steps forward. When that happens Pip's world as he knows it nearly collapses. He must move heaven and earth to avert disaster while at the same time coming to terms with who he is and what his future holds.

    "Great Expectations" is, in a word, great. It contains all of the hallmarks one associates with Dickens. The characters, everyone from Wemmick to Jaggers to Havisham to Joe, sparkle brightly as fully formed individuals living and laboring under very real problems. Atmosphere is divine: Pip's village and London come to life under the writer's pen. Even the author's penchant for examining social ills moves to the fore in a chapter that looks at the horrific conditions in London's main prison. Another real plus is the humor. If you haven't read Dickens, you don't know what your missing in the humor department. This author has an amazing sense of what is funny, and it is nowhere more apparent than in the scene in which Pip and Herbert take in a play starring one of our hero's relatives. This short chapter along with the ones describing Wemmick's abode are absolute masterpieces of hilarity, and they're actually bright spots in what is otherwise an occasionally dark piece of writing. And last, but not least, there is the downbeat conclusion. There are actually two conclusions to "Great Expectations". Make sure you pick up a copy that has both of them.

    About the only thing "Great Expectations" lacks is length; it's one of Dickens's shortest novels, which is probably the reason millions of teachers assign this book to their students. That's unfortunate because most kids want nothing to do with this book once it's forced upon them when in fact they could actually benefit from reading it. Why? Because "Great Expectations" teaches us a lot about love and identity, two things that matter quite a bit (or should matter) to young people. The teachers ought to assign something like "Hard Times" and let those who want more seek out "Great Expectations". The prevailing opinion on this book is that it is semi-autobiographical. It doesn't really matter whether the story is about the author's life or not. What is important, I think, is that this story attains a perfection that few books ever reach. That's why it's a classic, I guess. If you haven't read Dickens before, you should start right here....more info
  • Love is...beautiful and heartbreaking.
    Philip Pirrip, otherwise known as Pip, has great expectations. Given the opportunity to become 'a gentleman', his life becomes a quest fueled by his misguided and false hopes and dreams. And most of all: of unrequited love. All of which unravels.

    There is something there for everyone: mystery, thriller, drama, comedy, social commentary, romance (in a twisted sort of way). GE is about human nature and love, forgiveness and hope; a perfect blending of all these gritty elements that make up Life.

    I'm not going to go into the plot, others have done it, and much better than I ever could. What I will say is that Great Expectations is a book that everyone should try to read. Don't rush, but peruse, read slowly, savor it, appreciate it. The characters are vivid and heart-breaking, the personal growth of Pip from young boy to man, emotional and dramatic. You will feel for all the characters that will stay with you long after you've finished it.

    The introduction by Irving should be read. But AFTERWARDS. He gives an interesting biosketch on Dickens, the story arch and influences of GE. I was definitely enriched for having read it. The back also has the Original Ending of GE that Dicken's wrote, a list of works and a short but concise bibliography about Dicken's the man and his works.

    This was my first read of Dicken's and I was expecting a book bogged down and heavy with prose or overtly poetic speeches, and a book that would make me want to go to sleep: I was pleasantly surprised. While the style can be difficult & you will have to re-read parts of it, it's manageable, though, it's a good idea to have a dictionary on hand. There are parts that do go on and chapters that seem static, but the language and rendering of 19th century England and the characters make it all the worth while. Only then, will you understand why this book a true Classic....more info
  • My greatest expectation was the book ending
    Where do I start? This is a horrible book. Now, I do understand that each chapter was published separately over many months, and therefore Dickens had to make them a good length, but COME ON!

    The concept of the book is very good. Pip is almost killed by a criminal, but Pip helps the criminal, so later in his life he gives Pip money. However, I do think it would have been nice if Dickens had kept this book under 600 pages!! Every page features useless description. "Oh, but that is what makes this book soooo unique" you say... Oh, yes it is very "***unique***"... It can make a grown man cry. Do we really need to know the EXACT RGB value of the sky color? NO! (exaggerating a little, but you get my point). There comes a point (near the beginning) when you are actually looking forward to the point when Pip's life takes a turn for the worst. And the language... imagine reading a book written in a language that is a combination of pig latin and Old English with letters and punctuation missing to the point that you can't even pick out individual words. You just imagined this book.

    Finally, the characters... they get on my nerves. Not only are they boring, but they are introduced MID SENTENCE without any warning or explanation.

    You will like this book if:

    --> You enjoy what could be a one sentence description about a door expressed in two paragraphs.
    --> You enjoy these descriptions when they are written in incomprehensible "old-style" language
    --> You enjoy a story that never ends and gets old at about page 10

    My advice, don't waste your time, money, or sanity on this book....more info
  • If you've seen any movie of Great Expectations, read the book...
    ...the defect of almost all the movies (except, perhaps, the 1989 version with Jean Simmons as Miss Havisham (!)) is that the movies emphasize Pip's pursuit of Estella to the exclusion of almost all else. In truth, the core of the story is Pip's class strivings and his inability to distinguish the valuable from the shiny and superficial. Read the book and you will appreciate the character Biddy who is the polar opposite of Estella in every way, and the way, to paraphrase Othello, Pip "threw a pearl away richer than all he yearned for."

    Some of Dickens' characters and coincidences are a little stretched, but they nevertheless are woven together very nicely in the fashion of a good suspense novel. Great Expectations is divided into three volumes, each representing a phase of Pip's Expectations. The structure is strangely like "The Monkey's Paw": The first expectation (wish) is for riches; the second expectation finds the granted wish not exactly what the protagonist thought it would be; and the third and final expectation leaves the protagonist trying to pick up the pieces.

    As another reviewer commented, do get an edition that includes the original ending. It is only a few paragraphs but it wraps up this morality tale in a way that is appropriate to the entire theme of the story. If you wonder where the "new, happier" ending was substituted, just look for the place in the very last chapter where Pip suddenly changes direction and makes a lie of what he has just told his family.

    If you feel that you cannot sit through the novel, then at least get the 1989 film version (though it is out of print--you will have to pay a little more than you might like) and watch it for probably the accurate representations of the various characters, if not some of the stellar performances of the most acclaimed 1946 version. If nothing else, you will see something very rare for any actor or actress--the opportunity to define two characters in the same classic. In 1946, Jean Simmons' Young Estella defined "beautiful but cruel" for a generation, and in 1989 the same Ms. Simmons revealed the pain but even greater cruelty of Miss Havisham....more info
  • Thank God for Sparknotes
    Let me see.
    I hate this book. It is a required reading for English, mostly to show the difference between Flat and Round characters. Well it worked! Most of the characters in this book are flat! Ugh.
    I can't get over how the plotine doesn't even move normally. Its like when you want to drive somewhere and you hit a million and one detours. Eventually you'd say, "Screw it! Who needs food?" But nooo... Dickens just kept on driving around. I think only ONE subplot was actually straightforward, and that would be Miss Havisham and her ex lover.
    Basically, I got halfway through this book, then fled to Sparknotes. I wasn't going to read it. I was just going to make sure I knew enough to pass the test I had to take on the garbage.
    Ironically enough, those of us who used Sparknotes got better test grades than those who actually read the book. That say something about how much sense it made......more info