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Great Expectations - review

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Introduction

Great Expectations In Dickens' novel, "Great Expectations", he shows the reader that life should be lived with passion rather than desires of unreachable misfortunes. Dickens does this by using symbols and merges sub-plots in order to portray a life more than what it seems. In the first part of the novel, we are introduced with the main character, Pip, who is the narrator if the novel as an older self, and stars as the main protagonist. With the narrator, Pip, knowing exactly what happened in his past, he can foreshadow the events that later arise in the novel. Dickens uses his first chapter to introduce his main characters, and he proceeded to introduce the convict Pip meets on the marshes. The escaped convict demands food and a file for his shackles and then walks back into the marshes. By doing so, Pip watches and warms to their premature relationship, which was first based on fear and power, to a relationship with a common loneliness and marginalisation from society; Pip being an orphan and the person being an escaping convict. We can see this relationship developing throughout the novel, and it is this that Pip's great expectations fluctuate around. We then are introduced by Pip's sister and adoptive guardian, Mrs. Joe Gragery. Her name is a mockery on Dickens' part of the classical patriarchal manner of the surname that shows the husband as the owner of the wife. As we are shown the manner of Mrs. Joe as being angry and dominant over the family, it is obvious the classical patriarchal manner of surnames is reversed here. ...read more.

Middle

The convict is overheard talking about the note given to Pip (one-pound note the one eyed man gave to him). This event shows that Pip's past will always cling to him, and almost haunt him in that sense. Pip later on visits Estella, and it is now when we learn more about her. She convinces herself that Miss. Havisham has succeeded in raising her into a young lady, and persists in saying she has "no heart" and can feel "no love." Pip returns to London after the below station society curses him, and then receives a letter from Estella informing him of her arrival in London. Pip arranges to meet her, and travels to the meeting point where he sees Wemmick (assistant to Jaggers) before he sees Estella. Wemmick tells Pip of the convicts and prison and he reflects on how criminals have intercepted in his life at various times. After a whole chapter of anticipation of Estella's arrival and discussing issues of criminals, her abrupt entrance at the end can only be interpreted as a sign that Estella will be involved with the criminality of the novel. Pip then heads to Richmond with Estella. At this point in the novel, we are told of Pip's unhappiness, and how he feels low about his life, amidst feeling guilty about Joe and Giddy and his lifestyle. He joins a club called "Finches of the Grove" where men get drunk and gossip. Pip does not even respect them enough to introduce their names. Pip returns home to attend the funeral of Mrs. ...read more.

Conclusion

As pip regained health he wanted to return to the forge and propose to Biddy. A stupid expectation? To his misfortune, Joe and Biddy are getting married the day he arrived, but Pip wishes them well. This is the last lesson to learn, as he learns that he should not have expectations, albeit great or small. The expectations fail because Pip is adhering to societal concepts of what happiness is instead of seeing people for who they truly are, and appreciating the relationship beyond its societal label. After working at Herbert's firm for eleven years, Pip returns to visit Biddy and Joe. To Pip's surprise, and perhaps delight, he finds out Drummle had mistreated Estella and had died. He and Estella walked hand in hand out of the gardens as friends, and Pip "saw no shadow of another parting from her." Although the expectation of Estella and Drummle getting married was successful, Drummle's death provides Pip to succeed in one of his expectations, which serves as a possibility as he truly loves Estella. For Pip, Estella can be seen as the final reward for a true gentleman. In my opinion, the novel demonstrates what every person experiences; their expectations being smashed. Perhaps, in the time that the novel was published, the readers were not so aware, and so the novel was a great one. I do think that the novel is good, and does portray good points, and I enjoy the suspense and excitement it portrays as the build up to the end becomes larger, but it is not my preferred read. The characters are strange, for example the reformed convict and the stunted old woman, which I think gives the novel further excitement and originality. Sarah Holmes 5th September 2004 ...read more.

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