Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Rate: 4/5 stars

Okay. Let me start off by saying that this is my favorite book. Ever. If you’re ever going to read a classic for fun, read this one. At the end, I was so happy that I literally cried. (But then I learned about the first ending that Dickens wrote and nearly choked.)

Great Expectations starts with Pip as a six-year-old, kneeling at his parents’ graves. He grows with a passion for learning, yet is doomed to his blacksmith Uncle’s profession. A mysterious benefactor propels him to the city where he learns to become a gentleman while he pursues a childhood love-at-first-sight. As the years go by, Pip ponders the origin of his wealth, but upon finding the answer, he becomes distraught and fearful of an unforgiving future, and the dangerous man who fulfilled his childhood dreams.

Pip starts out innocent enough—stealing food for a felon and all—but grows to become detestable as a main character. I lost respect as his pride exploded in his adolescent years. He continually struggles with the barriers of class, but as he moves up in the world, he grows full of himself. For a good portion of the novel, he is hard for me to relate to because I find him so annoying.

I’m not a fan of the whole love-at-first-sight thing. Or Estella in general. It’s not believable at all, but it was acceptable and unheard of for the era, I guess. I do, however, grow to ship the idiot child and the cruel bombshell for reasons I can’t explain. The adolescent romance is believable and works as a subplot.

I foresaw the identity of the benefactor, but it still got me. Dickens did an amazing job of writing the scene where the mystery is solved. I can’t say much more on the matter due to spoilers, but oh my—there is so much I would say on the matter.

As I sit here thinking, I’m realizing that there isn’t much more I can say without giving up a ton of spoilers.

Herbert. My sweet child, Herbert. I absolutely love Herbert. He’s the perfect contrast to brooding, stupid Pip—and he lives with him without murdering him. I envy their friendship. I almost wish Herbert was the main character. I would have enjoyed the book even more.

If you’re reading Great Expectations, make sure you read both endings; Dickens wrote one without a happy ending, and one with a happy ending. The happy one is usually put in recently printed books, but both are satisfying and offer closure on the matter of Pip and Estella.

I recommend this for anyone. The language takes a while to get used to if you don’t read classics, but I guarantee it’ll suck you in. Dickens remains to be my favorite author, and his works continue to amaze me.

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