Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thoughts: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Part 3)

Last night:
I’ve reached page 319 in my copy of Great Expectations (I own the Penguin Popular Classics edition), and things are finally picking up. At last! After 319 pages! Funny enough, events are happening at a pretty fast rate, and revelation is being heaped upon revelation. After 319 pages! Finally! Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I like Charles Dickens. Really, I do. It’s just that he can be so woooooooooordy.

Now that we’ve got my whining out of the way, let’s move on to the good stuff. I was actually surprised by how readable Great Expectations is. The operative term here is readable, not easy to read. I admit I sometimes get lost in a tangle of paragraph-long sentences, but, once you actually understand the said tangled sentences, they're pretty entertaining.

So far, I like Magwitch, but I want to smack Pip, the ingrate! Miss Havisham is nowhere to be found, and I kind of miss her. Estella, on the other hand, is intriguing. I’ve read before that people find Dickens’s ingénues boring, but she’s different. She’s difficult to read, but it’s clear she’s manipulative which means, despite possibly being evil, she has a brain. Not boring at all.

On to page 320…


I finally finished Great Expectations at around one in the morning, because I couldn’t put it down. Somehow, over the course of a hundred pages, the pace of Great Expectations increased rapidly, and I ended up feeling like I was reading a thriller. I’m sad that it’s over. I know I whined before about Dickens being woooooordy and nothing happening until about 300 pages, but the last 100 pages made it all worth it.

The only thing I could complain about the last 100 pages is that the twist and turns were a bit predictable. Seemingly unconnected people and events were suddenly connected. All because of coincidence! Uh-huh.

I like how the ghastly Miss Havisham became more human, more real. She felt like a real person to me. Pip somehow redeemed himself, but poor, poor Magwitch… Magwitch was definitely my favorite character. He was sooo human. Despite Magwitch being so smart, Dickens somehow made a stupid decision of his seem logical, and that fascinated me as a reader.

In A Christmas Carol’s ending, Scrooge redeemed himself and redemption was handed out like pie, but Great Expectations was different. The ending was bittersweet and realistic, and the characters got exactly what they deserved.

The book made me think about my current station in life, my dreams for the future, and how it could all change for better or for worse in an instant. Pip’s Great Expectations reminded me to always be thankful for the people around me, and to look beyond appearances. The beautiful ingénue turned out to be a cold-hearted wretch, while the convict turned out to be kinder than all the other characters put together.

Rating: 4/5 Poor Magwitch. *Sniff. Sniff.*


Trisha said...

Crap, after avoiding Dickens for so long, I may have to read him after your review here. I'm happy to know it's readable despite its wordiness. :)

Kristi said...

He is wordy, but this is my favorite of his novels. Well, at least so far. I have several more to go. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Avid Reader said...

This is my favorite so far too. I love it for some of the very reasons you mentioned. There's no perfect happy ending, the characters feel so real and seem to get what they deserve. I feel like Pip was forced to grow up quite a bit. He is annoying at first, but he's forced to face some serious drama.

Zibilee said...

So glad to hear that you finished and loved it! I also found that the book picked up steam towards the end, and everyone got their just desserts. Great recap here, and I hope that you read more Dickens in the future!

JessiKay89 said...

I've heard it said that as a general rule with Dickens, it takes about a third of his book to really pick up the pace. When we read A Tale of Two Cities in high school, my teacher used to tell us to just keep pushing through that it would get interesting if we just gave it enough pages. I can't wait to read this one!

Read the Book said...

I hope you come to enjoy Dickens in all his wordy lengthiness! If you need a suggestion for your next Dickens, I recommend Little Dorrit.

Glad you loved Great Expectations!

Mercadowsit said...

So glad to hear that you finished and loved it! I also found that the book picked up steam towards the end, and everyone got their just desserts. Great recap here, and I hope that you read more Dickens in the future!


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