Charles Dickens' Great Expectations

analytical Essay
1085 words
1085 words

Great Expectations Essay

Topic: Why is Great Expectations called Great Expectations?

There is an old cliché that cautions readers not to “judge a book by its cover”, but rather,

by its contents. While this piece of advice may indeed be true, one could ask if the same is true of

judging a book by its title. The title of a book is in many ways indicative, not only of its contents,

but perhaps more important, of its author’s message. A title serves to inspire the reader’s interest,

while at the same time, to convey its central theme. Charles Dickens’ decision to entitle, what has

become his most famous and celebrated work, Great Expectations, was a wise one, for it

continues to communicate the book’s powerful and relevant theme, over a century after it was

first published. The book’s title, Great Expectations, expresses the central theme of the novel,

which is that of its characters’ grand and often misguided expectations of what will deliver the

“happy life”. Through the book’s main characters, Dickens’ explores and portrays the struggle of

the individual to compose his own life, amidst powerful external social expectations. The novel

contrasts Pip’s expectations against the expectations of others, and demonstrates how happiness

will escape those who allow the expectations of others to control the course of their life.

Convinced that the wealth and aristocratic lifestyle of Miss Havisham is the only respectable way

to live, Pip sets out on a path to attain the unattainable and on a path that in essence, leads him

away from himself. It is only when he recognizes the mistake of his ways, when he returns home

after eleven years, to his humble beginnings, that he returns to himself and therefore is now able to

acquire the happiness that he had been misguidedly chasing after.

The story begins, with orphaned Pip living happily with his sister and her blacksmith

husband Joe. Pip looks up to Joe, who is a simple, honest, hard-working, and content man.

Destiny is about to change Pip, when he unknowingly helps a convict, Abel Magwitch. Magwitch

becomes the unnamed benefactor, who sends Pip away to be a gentleman. Suddenly, Pip’s

expectations change and he begins yearning for material things and Estella’s love. Estella is a

woman from the aristocracy, who Pip never would have aspired for when living with his sister ...

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“‘But you said to me,’ returned Estella, very earnestly, ‘God bless you, God forgive you!’ And if

you could say that to me then, you will not hesitate to say that to me now - now, when suffering

has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used

to be. I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape. Be as considerate and good

to me as you were, and tell me we are friends.” (Page 484)

In conclusion, the title Great Expectations has different meanings for the different

characters in this novel. Joe and Biddy’s expectations lead them to lives of happiness and

contentment. However, Estella and Miss Havisham’s expectations lead them to grand and

misguided expectations, which result in lives of misery and disappointment. The protagonist in

this novel, Pip, begins this novel with appropriate and realistic expectations. One then sees his

transition into desiring grand and misguided expectations and the resulting frustration and

disappointment. Fortunately, Pip returns to his roots both physically and spiritually. He is

fortunate in realizing what the true “great expectations” in his life should be.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes the characters' grand and often misguided expectations of what will deliver the story.
  • Opines that the journey to attain wealth was fulfilled living as a “poor lad” with joe and his sister.
  • Analyzes how joe and biddy’s expectations lead them to lives of happiness and happiness.
  • Analyzes how pip begins the novel with appropriate and realistic expectations. one then sees his progress.
  • Opines that the title of a book is indicative of its contents, and perhaps more important, of 's message. charles dickens' decision to entitle, great expectations, was wise.
  • Narrates how pip sets out on a path to attain the unattainable, which in essence leads him away from himself.
  • Analyzes how pip looks up to joe, who is simple, honest, hard-working, and content. destiny is about to change him when he unknowingly helps a convict, abel magwitch.
  • Analyzes how pip yearns for material things and estella's love, which he never would have aspired for.
  • Analyzes how joe tolerates pip's sister because his morals wouldn't allow him to mistreat his wife. biddy is a loving, wise, girl who gives him astute advice.
  • Analyzes how pip is able to return to his former self after eleven years. his expectations have finally found their proper course.
  • Explains that estella is the adopted daughter of miss havisham, who is brought up without love. she marries a cruel, brutal husband, ignoring pip's love for her.
  • Analyzes how miss havisham and estella's misguided expectations have made them cold, cruel characters filled with a false sense of pride.
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