4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 23 April 2000
This book is excellent, but towards the middle it does not stay as interesting. That is not to say that the entire centre of the book is not well written it is just not as good as the rest. Other than that small drop there really is not that much more to say. Other reviewers have said none of the book was very compelling but from the very first page and Pip's meeting with the convict Magwitch I found myself reading as quickly as I could to find their next meeting. Amazingly realistic this book allows you to see inside a young boys mind and then watch it develop up until he becomes a 'gentleman' and trys to forget about his upbringing. Sad, witty, and dramatic all rolled into one, this book is a classic and will live on as one of the greatest novels of all time.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2004
An excellent narration by Hugh Laurie who captures the emotions and feeling of the characters in this classic book so well.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2008
I am not fan of Dickens' novels or his prose, but recognise that his body of work is accepted as hugely impressive and influential.
The plot and principal characters of Great Expectations are well known. The introduction to the penguin paperback made much of Pip's sense of guilt at the fate that befell his sister and his neglect of Joe and Biddy. I was left mostly with the impression however, that one of the defining characteristics of Pip is that he feels a sense of self worthlessness. I attribute this to the fact of his being an orphan. Pip clings to Joe and even in the end, Magwitch, as something like father figures.
What is remarkable about the narrative is Pip's honesty with himself - he is really quite flawed and weak in many ways and does not shirk responsibility for how things turn out. But that he is also possessed of immense goodness and kindness, there is no doubt. The ending is intriguingly left slightly open, but on balance, you have to think that Pip will end up with his beloved Estella after all. Great Expectations is a dark novel and the characters are drawn by an author who like Shakespeare, had a deep insight in to human psychology. Great Expectations is not only unforgettable because of its basic story, but also because of its wonderful characters: the flawed hero Pip, the deranged and bitter Miss Havisham and the extraordinary creation that is Jaggers the solicitor.
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2002
Don't bother reading this if you are immature. When I tried to read it at the age of 15 with the desire of becoming 'intelligent', I lacked the insight to appreciate its humour. I thought it was 'boring' didn't get beyond the first 100 pages and would probably have given it 1 star at that age.
However, 11 years on, having exhausted all of Wilkie Collins' novels, I decided to give his friend a second chance. I'm so glad I did.
His dark sense of humour comes through the description and interaction of the characters. His dramatic timing is simply perfect and the props he uses sets the reader up for shocks and surprises. He shows us that most of us, like Pip, don't fall into the category of good and evil, but that we are flawed human beings, capable of doing good deeds or making terrible mistakes. The characters cover a vast spectrum, by degrees, from the purely innocent, to likable villains, down to cold-hearted individuals.
It's beautifully written, very atmospheric... from the misty marshes to the dusty, dirty claustrophobic London. I laughed. I was moved. I was intrigued. I read with wide-eyed surprise at the unfolding of events. And I defy anyone who reads this story to forget Miss.Havisham.
If you understand the English language and have a pulse you should enjoy this immensely.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2012
Dig Deep For Treasure
`Great Expectations' is, in my opinion THE master piece of Charles Dickens. Of course, you can enjoy it as a straight story of an orphan (a type so beloved by novelists!) who acquires a mysterious benefactor who doesn't turn out as expected and so all that glitters for a time crumbles into dust. The novel is filled with fantastic figures such as the terrifying Magwitch, the haughty Estella (certainly riding for a fall), the crazy Miss Havisham, the overbearing Jaggers, the creepy Orlick and the harridan Mrs Joe.
Go a bit deeper and you get a lot more. See how the main characters have their own style of speaking; their words can only come from them: `you and me is always friends (Joe); `'Keep still, you little devil, or I'll cut your throat!'(Magwitch); `I didn't say so, Pip. I am putting a case.'(Jaggers). There speak the three father-figures Pip enjoys in the book. Pip sets his heart on being a `gentleman' and, for most of the work, loses his way. Possible models are the wealthy bully, Bentley Drummel, the hectoring lawyer, Jaggers or the gentle blacksmith, Joe Gargery. In Chaucer's `The Franklin's Tale' the reader is asked directly who was the `gentilman': in this work Dickens produces examples and the reader may ask the same question. Throughout the reader sees the world through the eyes of a child and then a foolish young man - and then an older Pip produces a commentary on his younger self. Like `Jane Eyre' you see the world both through a character's eyes and from a detached commentary. The book is filled with challenging themes: money vs. love; guilt vs. desire; alienation; gentility and substance vs. reality.
Of course, there are weaknesses - chiefly the trusty Dickensian love of coincidence. Why do Jaggers and Compeyson BOTH manage to link Miss Havisham to Magwitch - wouldn't one be enough? Why does Orlick, who hates Pip, also work for Compeyson? And, the worst one of all, how does Pip come to meet Estella in the ruins of Satis House (an ironic title for any house in `Great Expectations')? To be fair, this was NOT the original ending and the novel suffers as a consequence of Forster's advice. Dickens resorts to syrupy sentiment in the death-scenes of Miss Havisham and Magwitch - contrast those with the ghastly death of Arthur. Sometimes the reader may wonder why characters are really there but there usually exists a point, even if not readily apparent: Biddy is a paragon compared to either Estella or Miss Havisham in the `lady-stakes'; Pumblechook is not only a clown but, like Pip, possesses `great expectations which are doomed - contrast them with the fortunes of both Wemmick (plus Miss Skiffins) and Herbert Pocket (plus Clara).
`Great Expectations' is my favourite of the classics, only challenged by `Jane Eyre'. It is often compared to the more autographical David Copperfield. But David is much nicer than the young Pip and makes his way largely through work, not by means of a mysterious benefactor. Perhaps the novel should really be compared to `Oliver Twist' who never had great expectations but go there in the end.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2007
We all need our dreams. We have all fallen in love. Dickens's susceptible hero Pip believes that the 'star' of his dream is the beautiful Estella, because she had been granted to him by his fairy God-mother Miss Havisham, in a rare moment of compassion. Every turn of Pip's first person narration in the novel shouts 'No!' to his interpretation of the world and its tricksy words. Yet Pip's near fatal fallibility and misreading of his expectations humanises him and aligns his desperate romantic hopefulness to our own. Uneasily we admit our own private quests for love, and what a big love we crave after all!
'Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of my self. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here...You have been in every prospect I have ever seen...You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with....'
Pip's incantatory admission that love has engulfed his life is gloriously obsessive and bravely embarrassing. Like Carol Ann Duffy in Rapture: 'When did your name change from a proper noun to a charm?' Dickens's hero gives voice to love's piratical need to ambush all signs of the beloved and claim them greedily for oneself. Pip's 'wonder' in the light of his icy star Estella anticipates Gatsby's 'wonder' at Daisy's famous 'green light' in Fitzgerald's much later novel.
Read and be awed. We all love dangerously once!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2011
Having sat through one and a half episodes of the new adaptation of "Great Expectations", I felt that I ought to put in a word in defence of the actual novel in case those who haven't read it got the wrong impression of it from TV.
First of all, despite what the producers of the TV series seem to think, "Great Expectations" is funny. Pip's being attacked and threatened by the convict in Chapter One is hilarious, as is his fight at Satis House, as is his persecution by a local boy after he buys his posh clothes for London and as are any number of incidents throughout the novel. They are funny because Dickens was funny and wrote for an audience who expected him to be funny and because "Great Expectations" is written from Pip's point of view as a grown up of incidents which seemed upsetting or even traumatic at the time and seem comic to him later.
Even though the novel is hilarious at times, it also deals with love in its many forms in the most tender and surprising way. To go into detail would spoil the novel for some and I envy anyone coming to it without knowledge of its central secret but it's fair to say that Dickens' mastery of pace and manipulation of his readers' attention allows him to deliver a crushing emotional hammer blow during the novel which changes Pip's view of life convincingly and lets him sweep us on to the loomingly spectacular later chapters and two dramatic climaxes. Heroically unconditional love stalks the pages of this book, as it does in much of Dickens but there is little of the cloying sentimentality that accompanies it in other works of his. Neither would it be fair to claim that the novel is overlong or convoluted as some other Dickens is for me. There are moments that could be edited from the text without loss to the plot but they are rare and worth reading in their own right, as the reviewer who mentioned the visit to Wemmick's house has pointed out.
It goes without saying that the novel deploys any number of memorable characters:Miss Havisham, Joe Gargery, the aforementioned Wemmick and Pip himself,the boiling mess of ambition,decency,pomposity,guilt,stupidity and humanity, are a few which come to mind. For me, however, Jaggers is,with one unmentionable exception,the most rivetting creation of all - studied, threatening, dominant and knowing.
This is my favourite Dickens novel. I would not dispute that several others are its equal but they do not pull at my heartstrings in quite the same way.I doubt seeing them knocked about on TV would have annoyed me quite so much.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 1996
Pip a young boy is faced with many expectations at a
young age. Pip meets a young lady named Estella, and he
immedatley falls in love with her. The only problem is that
Estella thinks that Pip is a diry little rogue. Then an
unknown person gives Pip wealth and a way to earn an
education, part of the bargain is that Pip has to leave his
family and move to England. Pip is faced with these, and
many other questions as he begins his great expectations. I
think most young people would like this book, because it's
not as hard to read as Dicken's other classic books. It
also has a little bit of everything in it, mystery, romance,
and suspence. Something for everyone to enjoy.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Great Expectations is one of Dickens's later novels, a work of his artistic maturity. The narrative is symbolic rather than realistic. Although, as in most of Dickens and in Victorian literature in general, the plot relies heavily on coincidence, it is acceptable here because the related events are true to the internal, psychological, logic of the story.
After writing A Tale of Two Cities, which was unique among his novels in that it had none of his trademark humour, Dickens set out to make Great Expectations rich in comic elements. This despite, or perhaps because of, being in a depressed state of mind himself at the time. The conventional critical view is that he largely failed in this attempt, but I strongly disagree. The book is hilariously funny in parts and the main character, Pip, exhibits a characteristically British humour-in-adversity throughout his adventures. There is also the host of minor comic characters that we expect from Dickens. And he for once manages pathos without spilling over into bathos, so there are tears as well as laughter here, sometimes both at once.
If you have not yet read any Dickens, this is not a bad book with which to start, although for younger readers (teens) I would recommend Hard Times or A Tale of Two Cities as their first. Great Expectations demands a mature sensibility to appreciate its symbolism and psychological depth. Perhaps because it chiefly concerns the childhood and youth of the protagonist, it is often recommended to young people. This is a pity because, in its dark complexity, it is more likely to turn youngsters off, rather than onto, Dickens.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.