- Length: 1435 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
The title of this novel is Great Expectations and was written by Charles Dickens. Dickens wrote and set this novel in near the mid-1800 in London, England. Great Expectations is about a young, common boy named Pip that blossoms into a gentleman with high expectations of himself.
The main and supporting characters are Pip, Estella, Miss Havisham, Magwitch, and Jaggers.
Pip is the protagonist and narrator of the novel. The novel spans the time in which he was a young boy through his age in which he is recognized as a true man of the world. Pip has immature tendencies in which he will believe that he deserves better than what he gets in life. Although everyone should have a certain level of self-esteem and respect, he holds himself in high regard against other people. Pip feels that he should be able to move up into high society. After meeting Estella, he wants nothing more than to gain the respect and hand of her through becoming a gentleman. Through a serious of very fortunate events, beginning with showing the convict in the first chapter kindness, he is able to fulfill his expectations and hopes. As the story progresses, maturity overcomes Pip. He realizes that being a gentleman will not always get him what he wants in life, including Estella.
Estella is introduced to Pip through Miss Havisham. Estella plays antagonist to Pip through the course of his life. Miss Havisham adopts Estella as more of a puppet rather than a young girl. Miss Havisham was stood up on her wedding day and refuses to let go of that moment in life, so Miss Havisham uses Estella as a human form of unrequited love and revenge on Pip. Not only that, but Miss Havisham uses her social status as a means of an excuse to treat anyone as she feels. This is why Estella turns out to be cold-hearted to Pip. She flaunts her wealth in his face, she treats him like he is nothing but common trash, and she toys with his emotions. Unbeknownst to her, social status is not everything. She thought she could get the best with her social status, but in the end, she wound up with the worst. As for Miss Havisham, she gets a taste of reality also. Miss Havisham realizes that the past is the past. She is remorseful about the way she has raised Estella to treat Pip and also the way she has treated him.
Abel Magwitch, formerly known as the convict, is Pips secret benefactor. He, along with Jaggers, brings Pip to high society. Magwitch confronted Pip at the beginning of the novel and wound up having compassion for him due to his kindness. Using the kind-hearted and powerful Jaggers as a mutual medium, Magwitch funds Pip's basic needs into rising to gentleman's status. Jaggers has connections with the lower class crooks, and he is known to make dirty deals with those convicts.
The story begins with Pip in a graveyard near his home. There he is encountered by Magwitch, the convict. At this point in the story, it is not revealed that the convict is of any importance. For now, he just seems like a scruffy ruffian trying to escape justice. The convict threatens Pip for a bit of food and a file under the condition that he will be eaten if he does not comply. Pip promptly gets the convict his supplies.
Soon after, Pip's Uncle Pumblechook pays him a visit bearing news of fortune through a wealthy woman by the name of Miss Havisham. This is where she is first introduced into the story as Pip's means of riches. He attends numerous visits being lustfully pleased with the view of the young Estella. Although Pip has his eye on her, he realizes that he has no chance with gaining any advancement towards being with her as his status of a commoner, especially since she was raised with the harshness of Miss Havisham's attitude towards males. Estella continually mentally and physically not too harsh on the physical as the mental abuses him. Pips reasons that the only way to win her over is to become a gentleman. Here, Pip begins to have high expectations of himself. He now believes that he deserves better at any cost.
Pip is then apprenticed to Joe, his brother-in-law. Through the highly powerful lawyer Jaggers, Pip receives news that he is to be brought up as a gentleman. Although this strange man tells Pip that he will be raised into high society by a secret benefactor of whom he knows no detail, he follows Jaggers' words. He is tailored into bourgeois clothing with extra money in his pocket, bids Miss Havisham a farewell, and sets off into "training" to become a gentleman. Pip's first great expectation is met.
As Pip is being raised in London by through the teachings of Matthew Pocket, he evolves in society and devolves in integrity. He begins to forget his roots and his past. At one point, Pip is so ashamed that instead of staying in his old house, he demands a room in the inn.
After purposefully losing more of his past, he is finally confronted by the convict, Magwitch. Magwitch reminds Pip of his innocent youth and tells the story of how he has dedicated his life to making Pip's expectations of himself come true. Pip is moved by this and reverts back to his childhood emotions of humility; he tries to help Magwitch escape from London. Through this ordeal, it is revealed that Magwitch has been betrayed, much like everyone in Pip's past, by his former partner-in-crime, Compeyson. It is revealed that it was Compeyson who stood up Miss Havisham. Pip realizes the truth about Estella's one-track mind.
At a moment's notice, Pip's other great expectation is crushed by Estella's wedlock to Drummle after he admits to loving her. Ironically, Miss Havisham has revelation and apologizes, with meaning, to Pip. Estella on the other hand is still stuck in her world that revolves around her. After that fact, Pip attempts to save Miss Havisham from a fire. He is burned, but not the point or anything too serious. On the other hand, Miss Havisham has been repaid by Hell's touch.
On return to Pip's hometown, Pip is attacked by Orlick. Orlick goes into another fit of rage, similar the one that he had against Mrs. Gargery, but attempts to kill Pip. He is unsuccessful in the least. Tragedy continues to strike Pip as Magwitch is sentenced to death after drowning Compeyson. Consequently, Pip is but a common once again.
Surrounded by the deaths of his sister, Compeyson, and Magwitch, he is notified of Miss Havisham's death by Joe, who is taking care of him while he is in his ill state. Joe leaves London for the marshes, but he pays off Pip's debts before doing so. As Pip goes back to find Joe in the marshes of his old house, Pip discovers of Joe and Biddy's marriage. Instead of reverting back to his selfish, immature manner, he is happy for them. He encounters Estella one last time some odd years later and sees a new side of her. Instead of the old snobby Estella, there is a softer side of Estella that he had never seen before.
Dickens had heavy symbols and motifs in his novel. One that was readily noticeable as social class. Pip figured that if he could raise his social status, all of his problems would seemingly go away. This also includes getting Estella. It seems that Dickens did not hold much care for the bourgeois of London. He portrayed them as arrogant and heartless, while the poor were humble and had character and values.
Self-improvement went hand-in-hand with social class. Self-improvement could also be used interchangeably with great expectations. Pip had dreams and hopes of becoming someone in high society. Pip had ambitions of trying to make it to the top. He also believed that self-improvement could be used to solve life's little problems.
Love had a minor role of symbolism in this novel also. Pip wanted Estella. Going back to social class, he thought the only way to get her was through gaining wealth and a status in the upper class. Miss Havisham was also a broken hearted woman who had been stood up on her wedding date. If Pip has never been in love, his ambitions would have never been so great. The same goes with Miss Havisham. If her heart had not been broken, she would not have been so cold to males. She also would not have raised Estella as revenge either.