Freitag, 9. Dezember 2011

Great Expectations

Great Expectations was not a book easily read; at parts I had to close it and put reading the next chapter off until the next day because I had so much to think about. Some parts of it were excruciating, firstly because I forsaw that Pip would be disappointed in his great expectations, secondly because sometimes I felt as if Mr Dickens were not writing about the orpha´n Philip Pirrip, but about me.

Of course this doesn't mean that I didn't absolutely love it. Whereas, I think this novel is one which you can not 'absolutely' love. It is too much like life itself, impressive but bittersweet.

I bought Great Expectations, which is by the way my first Dickens if one does not count A Christmas Carol, at a time when I was very unhappy.
Dicken's model for Satis house
I didn't understand people, I felt as if I was totally different from everyone around me, I tried to be like the others and failed miserably, in short: I did not know who I was and neither what I was living for.
I had read somewhere that Great Expectations was a book that could help you accept life, however, more than half a year passed between my buying and reading it.

The beginning of the book made me want to read it all in one night: I loved little Pip and Joe, of course, and it was easy for me to sympathise with the boy's want for education and culture and his desire to be uncommon, something special, a gentleman.

The rest of the book was not so lightly readable anymore, Pip's gentleman life torn between feeling guilty towards Joe and Biddy and always wanting to please (involuntarily) cold-hearted Estella brought the bitter realisation that being uncommon and wealthy is no one-way ticket to happiness.
I think the following quote gives a good insight into this period of Pip's life.

We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were con- stantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one.
This was the part of the book I liked least, perhaps because I am too young to accept that great expectations of wealth and social rise are not so great after all. I was also really upset to see the bad influence Pip's wealth had on his character, I even started to question myself why I had liked him so much as a child.

Anyway, since Charles Dickens is a great writer everything was turned upside down again with Magwitch's arrival and the final clash with Estella.
I was really impressed by the way all the loose threads were woven together in the last part of the book, in fact the only thing I didn't like about it was the ending. It is too clear that the original ending was changed into a happier one in order to please the readers, and although I generally prefer happy endings I do not like this one. I just can't imagine a future where Pip and Estella are a happy couple, I think too much has happened between them.

To conclude, let's jump back to the reason I originally bought Great Expectations. I am a much happier person today than on the day I bought it: I still have not found who I am, but I am not so desperately searching for it anymore. I can't say to what extent this is due to Pip's story, but Mr Dickens has definitely taught me a very important lesson about life: It never comes as you expect it and once you have changed something it can never be the same again.

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