The successes and sorrows of an orphan, whose expectations and ambitions are greatly shaped and transformed by a mysterious benefactor, are at the heart of this famous Dickens classic.
About the Author
CHARLES DICKENS was born at Portsmouth on 7 February 1812, the second of eight children. Dickens's childhood experiences were similar to those depicted in David Copperfield. His father, who was a government clerk, was imprisoned for debt and Dickens was briefly sent to work in a blacking warehouse at the age of twelve. He received little formal education, but taught himself shorthand and became a reporter of parliamentary debates for the Morning Chronicle. He began to publish sketches in various periodicals, which were subsequently republishes as Sketches by Boz. The Pickwick Papers was published in 1836-7 and after a slow start became a publishing phenomenon and Dickens's characters the centre of a popular cult. Part of the secret of his success was the method of cheap serial publication which Dickens used for all of his novels. He began Oliver Twist in 1837, followed by Nicholas Nickleby (1838-9) and The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41). After finishing Barnaby Rudge (1841) Dickens sets off for America; he went full of enthusiasm for the young republic but, in spite of a triumphant reception, he returned disillusioned. His experiences are recorded in American Notes (1842). Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-4) did not repeat its predecessors' success but this was quickly redressed by the huge popularity of the Christmas Books, of which the first, A Christmas Carol, appeared in 1842. During 1844-6 Dickens travelled abroad and he began Dombey and Son (1846-8) while in Switzerland. This and David Copperfield (1849-50) were more serious in theme and more carefully planned than his early novels. In later works, such as Bleak House (1852-3) and Little Dorrit (1855-7), Dickens's social criticism became more radical and his comedy more savage. In 1850 Dickens started the weekly periodical Household Words, succeeded in 1859 by All the Year Round; in there he published Hard Times (1854), A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Great Expectations (1860-61). Dickens's health was failing during the 1860s and the physical strain of public readers which he began in 1858 hastened his decline, although Our Mutual Friend (1864-5) retained some of his best comedy. His last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, was never completed and he died on 9 June 1870. Public grief at his death was considerable and he was buried in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.
JESSICA HISCHE is a letterer, illustrator, typographer, and web designer. She currently serves on the Type Directors Club board of directors, has been named a Forbes Magazine "30 under 30" in art and design as well as an ADC Young Gun and one of Print Magazine's "New Visual Artists." She has designed for Wes Anderson, McSweeney's, Tiffany & Co, Penguin Books and many others. She resides primarily in San Francisco, occasionally in Brooklyn.
Date of Birth:February 7, 1812
Date of Death:June 18, 1870
Place of Birth:Portsmouth, England
Place of Death:Gad's Hill, Kent, England
Education:Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington
Read an Excerpt
My father's family name being Pirrip, and my christian name Philip, my
infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than
Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.
I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his tombstone
and my sister – Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw
my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for
their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies
regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their
tombstones. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea
that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the
character and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above,"
I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly. To
five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were
arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of
five little brothers of mine – who gave up trying to get a living exceedingly
early in that universal struggle – I am indebted for a belief I religiously
entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in
their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of
Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within as the river wound,
twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of the
identity of things, seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw
afternoon towards evening. At such a time Ifound out for certain, that
this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip
Pirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were
dead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and
Roger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and
that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes
and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes;
and that the low leaden line beyond was the river; and that the distant
savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that the
small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was
"Hold your noise!" cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from among
the graves at the side of the church porch. "Keep still, you little devil,
or I'll cut your throat!"
A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. A man with
no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head. A
man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by
stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who
limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in
his head as he seized me by the chin.
"Oh! Don't cut my throat, sir," I pleaded in terror. "Pray don't do it,
"Tell us your name!" said the man. "Quick!"
"Once more," said the man, staring at me. "Give it mouth!"
From the Paperback edition.
Table of Contents
|Chronology of Charles Dickens's Life and Work||xv|
|Historical Context of Great Expectations||xvii|
|The Original Ending of Great Expectations||599|
|Questions for Discussion||631|
|Suggestions for the Interested Reader||633|
What People are Saying About This
Observe how finely the narrative is kept in one key. It begins with a mournful impessionthe foggy marshes spreading drearily by the seaward Thamesand throughout recurs this effect of cold and damp and dreariness; in that kind Dickens never did anything so good.... No story in the first person was ever better told.
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"The Penguin Drop Caps series is a great example of the power of design. Why buy these particular classics when there are less expensive, even free editions of Great Expectations? Because they’re beautiful objects. Paul Buckley and Jessica Hische’s fresh approach to the literary classics reduces the design down to typography and color. Each cover is foil-stamped with a cleverly illustrated letterform that reveals an element of the story. Jane Austen’s A (Pride and Prejudice) is formed by opulent peacock feathers and Charlotte Bronte’s B (Jane Eyre) is surrounded by flames. The complete set forms a rainbow spectrum prettier than anything else on your bookshelf."
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Great Expectations is the first novel I read that made me wish I had written it; it is the novel that made me want to be a novelistspecifically, to move a reader as I was moved then. I believe that Great Expectations has the most wonderful and most perfectly worked-out plot for a novel in the English language; at the same time, it never deviates from its intention to move you to laugher and tears.
Reading Group Guide
Pip, a poor orphan being raised by a cruel sister, does not have much in the way of great expectations between his terrifying experience in a graveyard with a convict named Magwitch and his humiliating visits with the eccentric Miss Havisham's beautiful but manipulative niece, Estella, who torments him until he is elevated to wealth by an anonymous benefactor. Full of unforgettable characters, Great Expectations is a tale of intrigue, unattainable love, and all of the happiness money can't buy. Great Expectations has the most wonderful and most perfectly worked-out plot for a novel in the English language, according to John Irving, and J. Hillis Miller declares, Great Expectations is the most unified and concentrated expression of Dickens's abiding sense of the world, and Pip might be called the archetypal Dickens hero.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As an eighth grader, I don't understand why some teens dislike this novel. Is it just because it's a bit longer than we are used to? For me, it is an outstanding classic. Pip faces problems that we still face today-our high expectations, our unsatisfying results. Admittedly, the novel is a bit long, but without the text it holds, we would never be able to truly grasp the theme Charles Dickens is trying to convey. Each detail, each scene, each chapter adds more to our understanding. I feel like I am there with Pip as the story progresses. The length of the book plays a key point in the novel, for it leads the reader through Pip's life, the good and the bad. Reading the book carefully allows the reader to really understand what Pip has been through, and how he compensates. This novel is a stunning classic, and will remain my favorite book.
Great Expectations was required reading material in high school back in the 1980's. And as a result has become one of my all time favorite classic works by Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens was such an excellent writer that he made the charaters come to life. This is one of those classics that you absolutely cannot put it down until you have finished it. As you start reading Great Expectations you feel like you are accompanying Pip on his journey through life. With the sounds, sights, and smells. Experienceing the ups and downs, that life has to offer. For instance lifes's humble beginnings, the twists and turns, and a very humgle ending.Starting life as he did Pip was not happy with his beginnings in life and always wanting more. From meeting unstable individuals in the prohibited marshes while playing, manners being tought from an old, rich, bitter woman, to the most unlikey of unnamed benifactors that you are likely to meet. To be making a move to London to go to school, being able to make friends with influentual individuals and experiencing who they live, and some people that are even simple in how they view life and just trying to get by as best they can. Pip did a wonderful very unselfish thing when he anominoulsy helped a friend reach his life long goals, for instance becoming part owner of a business, marrying the one he loves and having family. Which in the real world would never happen. The ending, I thought could have been left on a better note than it was. Great Expectations is a good book for the old addage "Be careful what you wish for". The out come of such wishes may or may not be what you expected.
I first read this book in the eighth grade, and, upon reading the first line, I feel in love. I have always loved reading, and Charles Dickens never fails to entertain. He creates characters so life-like and real that you feel like you have known them all you life. You can really identify with these characters that are so abstract and complicated, yet so simple and heart-warming. Pip is such a dynamic character,and you really feel for him as he falls in love for the first time and tries to live up to the Great Expectations set for him. I love it.
Although the STORY itself is a great classic, this free version has formatting problems that made it difficult for me to follow along, even as my daughter read aloud from a print copy. After a few pages, I went back online and paid 99 cents- and now can actually read the book!
It is an exceptional book. Charles Dickens uses the words as if he were a dictionary. Excellent control of superb words. It is amzaing how the rising action and falling action happens.
Not even going to write a real review im just going to list reasons why its is the best piece of Literature on God's green earth 1. it is the best piece of literature on god's green earth 2. it is the best piece of literature on god's green earth 3. it is the best piece of literature on god's green earth Go buy it unless you are a total commy
This beautifully written novel absolutely deserves its place as one of the crown jewels of Dickens' many works. It is very smoothly written however is somewhat dense and is therefore required to be read rather slowly to be digested properly. I would only recommend this book to those whom I know have the intellectual capability and the stamina to keep up with this rigorous work. Overall stupendous.
To enter Honors English, i was required to read Great Expectations. My first thought, and the thought of many other teens, was oh great, a lengthy book using old English vocabulary But i was surprised, i actually enjoyed it. It does get weak in some parts, but its a great piece of Literature.
After a couple of chapters, you might begin to feel disappointed and want to quit reading it. Don't! You will be amazed at the suspense you feel and how interested you are in the characters. I also thought it was so clever how Dickens tied everything together, in little ways that you'd never have thought of. When I finished reading, I felt satisfied. I recommend this book.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but some people here would like to read reviews on this freaking book. Please move your roleplaying or whatever it is you're doing to another place such as an online chat or forum so I can figure out how good this book is and therefore how grueling my summer homework will be.
Great Expectations is truly a masterpiece. Dickens has given the reader the life of Pip, a poor boy of no real expectations until chance affords him the opportunity to become someone of means. Dickens has created a character of such great depth that I grew to love the man Pip. Pip’s growth, his ability to convey feeling and his own acceptance of weakness in himself and others touched my heart. Yes it is a slow read but don't be discouraged. It's a treasure. When I recommend the Nook to anyone I always give as one reason the classics. Reading the classics on a Nook is much easier with the flexibility to change the font and the small size of the Nook itself leaving the reader less overwhelmed.
If you start reading this book and realize that there is a lot that could be cut out of it then you will probably enjoy it more. When I first started reading this book I couldn't believe how boring it was. Once I started getting into it, however, my opinion changed entirely. I didn't want to stop reading. Then there were some more dry chapters and I couldn't maintain interest. Then this book suddenly made me think I had been reading a mystery the whole time. It brought back details I didn't even think about. Everything came together and ended so well I could not believe how fantastic it was. I would highly recommend this book if you are willing to be bored through certain chapters.
I enjoyed htis much more than Oliver Twist! The characters were complex and facsinating! One thing is it's not the kind of book you can just pick up and read a page. It doesn't just pull you in, you have to focus.
This is a great classic which everyone should read.
This book was forced upon me as summer reading. I struggled throught it. I had to reference to spark notes and the movie (something I NEVER do). But after I could get throught the writing style and look back on the story and the characters I sort of fell in love with it. So for a free read NO. But as for something analitical an absolute yes!
I'm currently a senior, and while I was not required to read this book, I had enjoyed Tale of Two cities by Charles Dickens, and had heard good things about Great Expectations from my father and a good friend. Many classics, while great books, don't always hook me and draw me in. This book did. Many are of the opinion that this book is very dark and brooding. It is a story with many dark and gritty elements to it, but when I read it, I didn't get the sense that the mood was dark and sober just for the sake of it. Rather I think Dickens was portraying just how harsh the world can be, and the corruption and selfishness that many people possess in pursuit of riches, property and status. In many ways, the journey of Pip reflects a story almost the same as that of the prodigal son. It's about a young man who feels restless and discontent with how life is, and feels that the pursuit of a greater life, status and riches are needed in order to gain happiness, and the woman he loves. Yet in the end, after all his expectations vanish into thin air and he's left worse than he was before, it's the family that he left in the pursuit of his expectations that pay his debts, and receive him with the same love they had for him before. Another side to this story that gripped me was his relationship with Miss Havisham and Estella. Miss Havisham is the living result of just how deeply a human heart can be hurt and broken by the cruelty of someone who they thought loved them, and how when we hold on to that hurt and brokenness, never forgetting or forgiving it ends up destroying us, and even more tragic cause us to hurt others in the same way. Which is what Miss Havisham does to Estella by raising her and teaching her to be a heartless woman who does not even comprehend love, and what Estella does to Pip by rejecting him and using him. Yet what amazed me most is even when Pip had every reason to rage and be consumed by anger and bitterness against Estella, he never stopped loving her, and resolved to remember her well even though she had thrown away his love. And even though Miss Havisham is responsible for Estella's heartlessness and now in a way his own heart being broken, he chooses to forgive her. Just the raw strength of this story left me amazed. I highly recommend it.
I found this book really well written. I personally recommend the unabridged version. After you get to understand the was he writes and the old english you will really enjoy it.
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, was a very wonderful book to read. I have to admit that it was difficult to get into it at first, but once the story started getting good, I couldn¿t put it down. There were so many twists and surprises that kept me completely compelled. I especially liked how the character, Pip, grew and changed throughout the novel. He didn¿t seem like just a character in a story, he seemed like a real live person in my life. His emotions and actions were so realistic that I felt his pain, his joy, his fear. Another aspect of the novel that I loved was the whole theme and basic moral. It harped upon the idea that loyalty to loved ones is way more important than wealth or social status could ever be. Among other things, these are the reasons why Great Expectations is a truly exceptional novel.
I decided to read this simply out of curiosity, and expected a long, boring, painful book. I was shocked. This kept me completely interested throughout the whole book, and was surprisingly easy to read. The language was not that hard to figure out, and basically, I was extremely pleased. If you think it'll be long and boring, you may be surprised at how fast you'll get through it.
A conflicted tale of courage, loyalty, and love, Great Expectations is an exemplary novel that succeeds in portraying the innocent but heartfelt story of Pip, an orphaned boy taken in by a blacksmith. Dickens beautifully illustrates Pip’s humble beginning. Pip’s father is Joe, a caring, protective figure over Pip, with his shortcoming being in intelligence and wealth. On the other hand, Mrs. Joe is Pip’s stern and insistent mother, more often than not yelling and bossing around Joe and Pip. These simple yet moving characters set up an environment that really allows you to understand Pip’s background. With several different events, Pip’s character is established to be weak and pusillanimous at the start. For example, “The terrors that had assailed me whenever Mrs. Joe had gone near the pantry, or out of the room, were only to be equalled by the remorse with which my mind dwelt on what my hands had done.” Pip clearly is very fearful of his mother Mrs. Joe in this situation, one of which happens to be over stolen food. From this, Dickens wonderfully portrays Pip’s growth over time, slowly breaking out of his cowardly shell. The first major plot point in the book is Pip being brought before Mrs. Havisham, a wealthy elderly lady, to ‘play’ with her step-daughter Estella. From being raised by Mrs. Havisham, Estella has had hammered into to her to have men fall for her and break their hearts. Pip, unfortunately, immediately falls in love, but it is clear he is far from reaching her. Estella is quick to insult Pip about his coarse hands and thick boots, showing to Pip the difference between her and him. Pip feels ashamed of his ‘commoner’ background, but also afraid turn away from his family and who he has grown up as. In the end, Pip makes the bold decision to become a gentleman. Gracefully written, Dickens introduces an incredibly convincing character that plays an impacting role in the story as well as While the book is relatively long, Dickens does not let a page go to waste. From what seemed to be an insignificant encounter with a prison escapee turns out to come a long way, the character revealing himself as the one who had been anonymously sending money to Pip. To even further tie things together, he also turns out to be the wife of Molly, the maid of Jaggers( Pip’s guardian) and Estella’s true mother. While it seems it may be difficult to pull together such an intricate array of characters, Dickens manages to create both a believable story and pour depth into these characters. Excelling in telling the grand narrative of the struggles of a boy raised from an unrefined background as well as fleshing out minor experiences with individual characters of the book, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is a book well deserving of its place as a classic in literature.
The author came out on an episode of Doctor Who!!!
An obvious classic for obvious reasons. This is from a time and author which knew (and was expected to) craft very fine words, ideas and plots. A timeless story with heartbreakingly truthful characters.
Dispite the longness, i say overall this.is a good book! Even though dickens isnt one of my top picks for an author, i say this is a good book! It takes you through pips life from child to adult, and as an 8th grader i say this is a good book. Dickens was also born a couple weeks after me to... Anyways. This book is in so many ways. And will always remain a classic
I read the simplified version and it was okay. It seemed a little boring and i eally hated estella cae she was suc a brat because she (being an orphan) was taught by her grandma i think she was to hate all men. It does have a kittle twist when it comes to his benefacter though. Over all i probably wouldnt pay the money i would just rent it from the libray.
I am only aobut half way through this book at this point. I am following the story but the language sometimes makes the story difficult to follow. I did appreciate the definitions at the bottom of the pages for words we do not use any more. I guess I would recommend reading it, it is a classic.