Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Charles Dickens - Great Expectations

Great Expectations is at once a superbly constructed novel of spellbinding mystery and a profound examination of moral values. Written at a time when Dickens' relationship with Victorian society had reached a crisis, this novel is peopled by characters unmistakably bearing Dickens' familiar stamp -- but here they appear in a new and questioning light. The orphan, Pip, and the convict, Magwitch ... the beautiful Estella, and her guardian, the embittered and vengeful Miss Havisham ... the strangely ambiguous figure of the master lawyer, Mr. Jaggers all play their part in a story whose title itself reflects the deep irony that shapes Dickens' searching reappraisal of the Victorian middle class. From the agony of his disenchantment comes a work that gives an added dimension to his matchless genius.

Comment: I've picked up this classic because it was another of the books chosen for one of my bookclubs.
I had heard of this book and the author too, of course but I haven't read any books by him before. This was the first one and I was curious to see if I would enjoy it.

This is the story of Pip,a young boy who meets a convict man and helps him. The book is divided in three parts, the first being Pip's childhood and growing up. Then Pip lives a life where he learns how to be a gentleman.Later he learns truths he didn't dream about and tries to be the person other always thought he would be.

This book is about being humble and fair, in my opinion. We have to learn by mistake but to care about the people and the things that have always stood with us. Pip is a young boy, he's quite innocent and lives with his sister in a humble and poor house. the lesson e has to learn is that no matter what comes in his path, he should still honor his origins and the people who always cared for him. I think it was quite the lesson, obviously more special considering the time it was written.
I've read the book as a translation into my maternal language because some older books have a more difficult grammar and prose and although I think myself pretty easy with the current English language, the narrative of the 19th century still poses as a difficulty to me and in these cases, I tend to look for those books in Portuguese, as they are more accessible. Still, difficulties apart, I feel the story was a bit boring at times, especially in the beginning. I have to confess I felt like passing through the pages because some things bored me a lot and until the revelations started and Pip changed his behavior, I assumed many information was rather...useless. 
When things got better in the narrative, it was when Pip started changing his behavior, his attitude towards Joe and Biddy and I felt sorry for him because no one should feel put aside because of how poor they are born or how poor is their house. It's the people who count and being poor myself, I felt ashamed for Pip to act like that.
There was a mystery in the book, one I didn't particularly care about but  was still surprised over it. It's true the book offers many situations to think about. The one that sill lingers in my head is when Pip decides to go back to his old life and sees others have moved on and the world didn't turn around him...what a lesson too.
In the end I liked more the idea of having read the book than the book itself. It's a classic, a very known story but I've read others that pleased me more.
Anyway,  recommend the book, simply because classics are labeled like that for a reason and the fact I didn't enjoy the book as much as others before, it still teaches a lesson.


  1. Ahhh, yes! This is one of those books that grows on you the more you read it. Great Expectations is one of my favorite books by Dickens. I've re-read it a few times throughout the years. There's a lot there to think about and process and it's not always pretty or good.
    Dickens was a realist during a time when much was idealized.

    Have you read A Tale of Two Cities? That's an amazing piece of work!

  2. Hi!
    No, this was the first book by the author I've tried. I can't say I'm now a fan of his work, but perhaps one day i'll try that one you've mentioned.