I want to like Dickens—I really do. The only problem is that I’m convinced if he had a better editor these books would have been BEYOND amazing. The same thing happened while reading Great Expectations to me while reading A Tale of Two Cities. There were probably 200(+) pages in the middle of the book that just felt waffly and I could’ve done without. The openings were both great, once I got used to the language, and the endings were PHENOMENAL!
I don’t want to boil this down to a love story, because it is so much more, but we all know my responses generally focus on one theme that really strikes me and the love of Pip for Estella definitely overwhelmed everything else (with the exception of his learning to love Magwitch). But seriously, how can you not be bowled over by the following quote?
“Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since—on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!” (720-721)
Okay, so maybe it is a bit over the top, but COME ON, who wouldn’t want to be loved like that? This is the point where I made the full connection that Ms. Havisham was ruining Estella’s life to such a point that she could never be happy. Estella’s non-response to this and Ms. Havisham’s response were a wake up call. It doesn’t help that one of the three major revelations of the story just shook Pip’s world and that’s why he was visiting.
If there is one thing that Dickens did incredibly well it was the revelation of who was who throughout the novel. I guessed who Pip’s benefactor was, but I did not guess his further relationships. I’m not sure if I guessed it because I’d heard it at one point, but not long after he received news of his great expectations I had an inkling of who it was. I like to think that perhaps Dickens knew people would guess this and thus added the further character twists at the end.
Recommendation: Overall I’m glad I read it. I surprisingly preferred A Tale of Two Cities to Great Expectations but would consider re-reading both. Definitely read Dickens for the endings! Both endings were able to rock my world a bit and make me say ‘Wait a second!?’
Opening Line: “My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.”
Closing Line: “I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so, the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw the shadow of no parting from her.” (Whited out.)