Popescu Cristina        

Prof. Dr. Adina Ciugureanu

Seminar: Nicoleta Stanca

British Literature 2nd year

January 16, 2007

How Should Great Expectations End?

Many of the events from Dickens’s early life are mirrored in “Great Expectations”, which, apart from David Copperfield, is his most autobiographical novel. Pip, the novel’s protagonist, lives in the marsh country, works at a job he hates, considers himself too good for his surroundings, and experiences material success in London at a very early age, exactly as Dickens himself did. During this metamorphosis, Pip neglects his friendships with Biddy and Joe. Pip ultimately matures when he takes care of Magwitch after the accident at the river. He discovers the importance and the goodness of what Magwitch had done for him. The relationship between Magwitch and Pip grows due to the Pip's maturity. The relationship between Pip and Joe also develops once Pip realizes how valuable friendship is.

The ending of “Great Expectations” is more controversial than it may seem at first. Not everyone knows that for Great Expectations are two endings, this is because the most encountered ending is the romantic one. But before writing the scene in which Pip enters back into Estella's life at the very right moment, as she has led "a most unhappy life, and as being separated from her husband, who had used her with great cruelty, and who had become quite renowned", he finds Estella in the garden and sees “no shadow of another parting from her,” Dickens wrote another, less romantic ending to the book. In the second version, Pip hears that, after Drummle’s death, Estella married a country doctor in Shropshire. Walking through London one day with Joe and Biddy’s son, Pip runs into Estella and they have a very brief meeting and shake hands. Though they do not discuss the past, Pip says he could see that “suffering had been stronger than Miss Havisham’s teaching and had given her a heart to understand what my heart used to be.”

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There is no clear historical reason to favor one of these endings over the other. the second ending seemed "psychologically wrong" but "artistically much more congruous than the original, for "the scene, the hour, the atmosphere are beautifully touching and exactly right." These two endings are not just romantic and unromantic, can always be called optimistic and realistic endings. The first ending was writen according to the typical Victorian novel in which there is always a happy-ending. In the nineteenth-century people prefered a less realistic and romantic ending rather than a sad one; maybe because they had enought problems and ...

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