Expectations are a tricky thing. We can’t but help to envision an intricate outcome before we’ve taken a single step, yet are somehow surprised when our expectations are worlds apart from their eventual end game.
Dickens, once again, delivers a remarkable tale with powerful insight into the true essence of man; the thoughts never spoken, the shame believed hidden to the world, and the feelings of inadequacy haunting everyday thoughts.
While visiting his parent’s graves, a young boy encounters an escaped prisoner who demands food and tools to help further his escape. While the experience terrifies the lad, it comes back to him as a man, in a way quite unexpected.
Pip is orphaned at a young age and lives with his tyrannical sister and her selfless husband. His frightful experience with the escapee is the start of the many travails he experiences into adulthood. An impressionable fellow, he becomes consumed with improving his station in life and quickly loses sight of those who truly have his best interests at heart.
The eccentric Miss Havisham lives an isolated and bitter life. She seeks revenge upon men through her adopted daughter, Estella, in retaliation for being left at the altar and dons a thoroughly worn out wedding dress and keeps her clocks stopped at the hour of her abandonment; 8:40. She invites Pip to Satis House, her dilapidated home and taunts him in the presence of Estella.
Joe Gargery, brother-in-law to Pip is a hardworking and humble man who sees only good in others. His reticent manner makes it easy to dismiss him, yet he harbors no ill will to those who do so. His lack of education and refinement in no way diminish his standing as a truly honorable man.
Best friend to Pip, Herbert Pocket is another honorable man. While their initial encounter at Satis House is rather unpleasant, they both laugh it off and begin an enjoyable relationship. Pip asks Herbert to guide him in his social skills and Herbert has the grace to correct him on many occasions without the slightest hint of repudiation. This is the confidant any one would be blessed to call friend.
That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.
It is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home. There may be black ingratitude in the thing, and the punishment may be retributive and well-deserved; but, that it is a miserable thing I can testify.
Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlaying our hard hearts.
So, throughout life, our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for the sake of the people whom we most despise.
Mr. Dickens holds a special place in my heart for his genuine understanding of the inner workings of the minds of men/women. I think I’d just enjoy watching him watch others and learn how he was able to transpose those observations to pen and paper. Sheer genius!
My rating for Great Expectations is a 9 out of 10.
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Next up, Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love…