I just finished book 16-Great Expectations by Dickens. I made sure to start this book, just prior to my trip to London. It was the perfect book to be reading in London, because it is set in the old City of London and throws around street names quite a bit. I was very excited to visit the district that Pip walked and also to see sites from Bleak House while I was at it. I even had the privilege of enjoying an ale in Ye Olde Cock Tavern a favorite of Dickens among other famous literary figures.
I enjoyed this book, though not as much as I enjoyed Bleak House. Daniel S. Burt among other critics points to Dickens life when they say that this book is a rehashing of Dickens own poor upbringing just as David Copperfield was.The main differnce between the two books, is that in David Copperfield the middle class life is idolized where in Great Expectations it is seen as bad thing.Pip's "great expectations" ended up being his ruin and he went through a journey of discovering what was important in life, both for what is important to a man's character as well as what are important ambitions and dreams.
As with Bleak House, almost every single character in the book is connected with another in some important way. I love him for that, because the plot thickens the more you find out the interconnections. I made the mistake of reading what Daniel S. Burt had to say about the book before finishing the novel, so I knew the major plot twist. Despite that I was still suprised by a few other things in the novel.
I read the majority of this novel on trains, and in the air flying to and from London. I still made sure to keep notes on some of my favorite quotes.
The predominant theme is guilt and also what revenge can do to those who are consumed by it and also those affected by it. Both Pip and Estella are ruined by the revenge schemes of their benefactors. Here are a few quotes showing that:
"Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy"
"Throughout life, our worst weaknesses and meanesses are usually commited for the sake of the people whom we most despise"
"if you had done this, and then, for a purpose had wanted her to take naturally to the daylight and she could not do it, you would have been disappointed."
"She had secluded herself from a thousand natural and healing influences; that her mind, brooding,solitary, had grown diseased, as all minds do and must and will that reverse teh appointed order of their Maker"
There are also several quotes about love, although I don't know if I agree with all of them. The story of Estella and Pip is a love story of a kind. It is different from most, because it is predominantly one sided but still it is a love story.
"It is blind devotion, unquestioning self humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world"
"In a word it was impossible for me to seperate her, in the past, or in teh present, from the innermost life of my life"
"I knew to my sorrow often and often if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace against happiness"
"Told me! Why, yoiu have always told me all day long, when you told me your own story, you told me plainly that you began adoring her the first time you saw her."
I think this is all I will say about this book. It will always be very dear to me as I read it almost entirely while traveling. I am a fan of Dickens although I seem to have read his two books where he reverses his previous theory about the middle class. Pickwick Papers is further down on the list and it will be interesting for me to read it and see if I still like him under his former theory.