Great Expectations: Charles Dickens

I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. -Charles Dickens, “Great Expectations”

“Great Expectations” has long been heralded as a great piece of classical literature but I can honestly say that, for the torment that we must endure on behalf of the protagonist, Pip, the many ways in which the reader suffers as he pursues the love of someone who’s every word and deed is the antithesis of love, this is one of the worst books that I have ever read. Dickens creates a story in which a young man stomachs gross humiliation and rejection repeatedly, over many years, only to finally meet with love at last. But are we supposed to applaud the fact that his obsessive desire finally gained him the woman of his dreams when we have been shown time and again that she is unworthy of him and that neither of them understands what love is? Love is not mistreatment of another, playing mind games to see how much they care. And love, true love, will leave, or at least decay within you, when it goes unrequited. The “happy ending” of mind-fuck meets stalker is not my idea of great literature.

2 thoughts on “Great Expectations: Charles Dickens

  1. Very glad you’re not afraid to bite into a “classic.” Dickens is one of my favorite authors, but as a love story, I think “Great Expectations” fails. The characters are phenomenal (and I am SO excited to see Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham), but it’s one of the most unsatisfying endings you can find in a Dickens’ novel.

    • I agree that Dickens is a great writer but I find it a bit disheartening that (in my mind, at least) his worse novel is one of his most famous. The characters in “Great Expectations” were amazing, but there was almost no character development or growth whatsoever, which is probably why the ending of the story was so incredibly disappointing. The novel was like the literary version of a bad romance flick.

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