[Review] Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Title: Great Expectations
Author: Charles Dickens
Publisher: W.W. Norton January 17, 1999, First Edition
Genre: Fiction, Victorian Literature, Classic, Coming of Age Novel
Format: Paperback
Pages: 748
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Self-purchase

I was a teenage girl the first time I read a Charles Dickens book, the story was A Christmas Carol. Since then I've read A Christmas Carol several times. Over the past decade other Dickens books have been read: David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities. Great Expectations is now added to the list. My favorite is still David Copperfield, number one over-all in all the books I've read. I enjoyed reading Great Expectations. The more I think about the story, the more I realize Pip's life is similar to my own; an awakening to who he is and where he's been and further where he's going. Pip develops as a character; both in age and in emotional maturity. I find it interesting that Pip is not always a likable character. All through the story I had empathy for him, but sometimes he needed discipline. Recently, I read where Great Expectations is rated number one for Dickens fans; however, some fans like me choose David Copperfield as number one.

Philip Pirrip or Pip, as he will be known throughout the story, is a young boy living with his adult sister and her husband Joe Gargery. Pip's parents died leaving his sister as his guardian. His sister is a mean-spirited, hateful, spiteful, abusive women. Joe is kind-hearted and a true friend to Pip. Joe is a black-smith. They live in the marsh land at a river and near Kent. Early in the story Pip visits the cemetery where his parents are buried, he also encounters an escaped convict. Pip is intimidated by him, curious, but fearful. This traumatic event is the start of a broadening story that will sweep through Pip's life. Pip is invited to meet a Miss Havisham and her adopted daughter Estella. Miss Havisham needs a book of her own to tell her story. She's a bitter, eccentric, wealthy woman. Miss Havisham and Estella, will be tools used to filter out the impurities in Pip's inner person. Pip will be given an opportunity for Great Expectations, his benefactor must remain a mystery for most of the book. The story follows Pip as he grows into a young man. Education, ability to manage money, discerning a true friend, poverty, embarrassment of social status, falling in love, unforgiveness, abuse, are all themes.

The Norton Classic edition includes the following:
  • Two endings, the original ending is added. 
  • The history of Dickens Great Expectations writing project.
  • The times in which Dickens lived.
  • Literary reviews.
  • Illustrations.


  1. I've read this book a couple of times, but I'm not as big of a fan. I need to give it another go, and plan on it with my Dickens Project!

  2. There were two endings?! Really? I never knew that! Gosh!

  3. This book grew on me towards the end, and afterwards when I had time to reflect on the story. This has happened before with a few other books, I need time for the story to digest a bit, to reflect on it.
    But, Great Expectations is still not my favorite of Dickens. I love David Copperfield.
    Thanks Allie and O for commenting.


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