Monday, November 29, 2010

Great Expectations

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Moldy Wedding Cakes

I feel bad giving Mr. Dickens a rating below 5 for any of his works. He is one of the greats. There is no doubt about that. This is just not my favorite of his. While there are some awesome things within it, I found myself yearning for the end of it. It probably didn't help that I knew how it ended because I read some spoilers before reading it.

It starts out really great. And I was impressed with the continuous them of expectations, gratitude, and family throughout. Dickens, the brilliant man that he was, starts the novel in a graveyard which is where all expectations end. The relationship between Pip and the escaped convict is interesting because it continues throughout the book. Pip always thinks about him and that fateful day when he brought the man a file to break his chains and some food and drink.

Odd thing about this novel is that I lost interest as soon as Pip went to London. Once things started going good for him I was not very excited. Guess that is another issue because about 90% of the novel takes place when everything is going good for Pip.

A very poignant relationship that I wish was given more breadth was that of Estella and Miss Havisham. I loved when Estella freaks out on Miss Havisham and accuses her of making her into a monster. Miss Havisham is not a mother. She has got to be one of the weirdest women in English literature, but she and Estella were my favorite parts of this book.

Speaking of Miss Havisham...The theme of expectations is seen in her as she was jilted on her wedding day. Her expectations stopped at that moment. Even her clocks are still set at the very time when she was jilted. Her whole life is put on hold. Miss Havisham is the embodiment of what happens to us when our expectations of life are set too high and then it crumbles around us. None of us should strive to be like her.

Estella is an interesting character. At first I don't understand Pip's attraction to her. She's a brat to him when they are young. She treats him like garbage. But then there's an interesting thing that happens to their relationship. I tend to think that she actually loves Pip because she would not let him have her. She knew she would just destroy him, so by not returning her love she was actually protecting Pip from herself. How depressing is that? But this, alone, makes me think that Estella is a strong heroine.

Pip drives me nuts. Why can't he just stay at home, become a blacksmith, marry Biddy, and be done with it? I feel bad for the way he treats Joe and Biddy as he becomes a gentleman. This, I think, is Dickens making a commentary on the richer society.

At any rate, this book is worth reading. I did skim some of it because I lost patience, but I definitely think it is one of those classics that should be read simply because of the timeless themes within it. As a toast to Miss Havisham I have given it a rating of 3.5 out of 5 Moldy Wedding Cakes.


  1. Oh I love Great Expectations, Dickens is just a master storyteller. I wish you had been a little more patient. But Pip's childhood is the best bit.

  2. While I do love Great Expectations, I understand what you mean. Pip drove me crazy and it did make it hard to like him as he treated his brother-in-law and Biddy so badly. And I hated that he liked Estella, but I like seeing the changes in him and comparing it to real-life.