Top 10 Notes: Great Expectations



Top 10 Notes: Great Expectations

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Born in 1812 in Portsmouth, England, Charles Dickens maintained several jobs while contributing to journals. He found great success with his writing thank to the novels called “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Great Expectations." The latter, which revolved around the coming-of-age experiences of an orphan named Pip, is one of Dickens' most popular and enduring works. Welcome to and in this installment of Mojo Notes, we'll be exploring ten things you should know about Charles Dickens' “Great Expectations.”
This novel follows the coming-of-age experiences of an orphan named Pip. Welcome to and in this installment of Mojo Notes, we’ll be exploring ten things you should know about Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.”

#10 – About the Author

Born in 1812 in Portsmouth, England, Charles Dickens was one of eight children. He read a lot as a child, but money problems mostly prevented him from formal education. After taking several jobs, Dickens began contributing to journals and writing his own work. He found great success with “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Great Expectations” and embarked on many reading tours before illness took his life.

#9 - Influences and Inspirations

This Victorian novel was first published in parts in the magazine “All the Year Round” between 1860-62. Since he’d already been writing for several years, “Great Expectations” showcased Dickens’ evolution as an author, since it was more concise than his previous work. Composed in the first person and in an autobiographical style, it also contains lots of imagery and interesting twists.

#8 – Settings and Era

“Great Expectations” is set in the areas of England known as London and Kent during the first half of the 19th century. As an example of Victorian literature, it depicts life’s hardships and the work its characters must undertake to survive. By following the main character’s growth from a youth to an adult, the novel reveals the interests of Dickens and the people of his time.

#7 – Plot

The story is narrated by Pip, who recounts his growth from a 6-year-old orphan to an adult. After an encounter with a convict named Abel Magwitch, Pip falls in love with the adopted daughter of wealthy old Miss Havisham. His lack of wealth prevents him from being worthy of Estella’s hand, until a lawyer named Mr. Jaggers informs him of a mysterious benefactor. Pip becomes a gentleman, but is forced to help that long-ago convict when it’s revealed that Magwitch is his benefactor. After losing his fortune, Pip goes back to work and is eventually reunited with Estella.

#6 – The Protagonist: Pip

After losing both parents, Pip is raised by his angry older sister and her gentle husband. He’s a sensitive and frightened child, but still manages to feel sorry for the convict he meets. Though he loses his child-like innocence after meeting the mean Miss Havisham and snobby Estella, this doesn’t stop him from falling in love. Pip then starts to obsess over money and material things after becoming a gentleman. He eventually learns the error of his ways and becomes compassionate and forgiving, while also realizing the value of hard work.

#5 – Estella

Estella is the beautiful adopted daughter of the rich old spinster Miss Havisham. Though she grows up without knowing who her real parents are, Pip later discovers she’s the child of Abel Magwitch and Mr. Jaggers’ housekeeper Molly. Thanks to Miss Havisham, she’s brought up to look down upon Pip and will not return his, or any other boy’s, love. She’s eventually changed by the passage of time and her experiences, which brings Pip back into her life.

#4 – Other Characters: Miss Havisham, The Convict aka Abel Magwitch, Compeyson

As a result of being mistreated by men in the past, Miss Havisham makes it her life’s mission to seek vengeance on all men. Though he’s a criminal, Abel Magwitch is a good guy at heart: the hard-worker acts as a father figure to Pip and provides him with the funds to become a gentleman. His enemy is fellow convict Compeyson, who is also Miss Havishman’s former fiancé.

#3 – Values and Themes

Pip’s early encounter with a convict immediately introduces us to the novel’s themes of guilt, crime and social class. After he falls in love with a woman with a social status above his own, we’re shown his ambition to become a gentleman, and this further demonstrates the relationships between love, good and evil.

#2 – Modern Popularity

Though early critics couldn’t agree precisely what made “Great Expectations” what it was, the novel is still considered one of Dickens’ most successful works, thanks to memorable characters, a dramatic plot, elements of humor, and more.

#1 – Adaptations

“Great Expectations” has been used to create many works of art, ranging from books, musicals, stage productions and screen adaptations. Though Anthony Hopkins, Ethan Hawke, and Ralph Fiennes have participated in productions inspired by the novel, it’s 1946’s “Great Expectations” film that won two Oscars and is considered the definitive movie version.

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