Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is known as one of the greats, one of the classic writers, one of the authors that have changed literature and the way that we perceive it. This is the second Dickens novel I have ever read, the first was Hard Times for A Level and I absolutely hated that book.

Because I am not used to reading classic literature, I found it very hard to understand the language that Dickens uses throughout Great Expectations and I had to keep a dictionary handy so that I could look up words that I didn’t understand and then pencil them in the book. 

I was very hyped to read this book. I have to read it for university in September, so I thought I would get a head start and read it early. I have heard that this particular novel is one of Dickens’ greats and his final masterpiece.

Great Expectations started off very slow and I was losing motivation to read it. The plot didn’t seem interesting but knowing Dickens, I knew that I just had to persist and it would get better further on down the line. 

It starts to get good at the start of volume two – which is a long time to wait for it to get good, but it’s worth it. It’s at this point where Pip uncovers hidden truths about the people that surround him. There were a lot of plot twists that left my mouth agape and hankering for more. 

“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”
-Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

If you haven’t read any Dickens before and you want to read this, just know this: he describes things in great detail. He’d use a whole page to describe a tree; that’s the kind of author he is. If you’re not familiar with classic literature like me, the amount of description will become boring and you’ll just want to skim-read it and get to the good parts. Do not do this. Don’t skim read.

This is one of the things that I actually disliked about this book. If you weren’t paying 100% attention, you’d miss key moments of the story and realise later on that you have no idea what just happened. Dickens loves description but he doesn’t seem to carry on his love of description when it comes to poignant parts of the story, two sentences and it’s all over.

However, Dickens is a beautiful writer and his use of words paints the picture of 19th century London so vividly, you think you’re there with Pip and Herbert. My favourite thing about this book is how all of the characters lives intertwine with each other and I think that this is so clever and it’s this that creates the many plot twists.

I have to read this book a few more times because I’m studying it at university, but I can’t wait to delve deeper into the world of Great Expectations and really understand everything about the capitalist ways of the era.

I strongly recommend that if you haven’t read a classic book before, this is a brilliant one to get started with as it’s captivating – after you’ve gotten through the very slow storyline of volume one – the characters are beautifully thought out and the plot twists will keep you hooked.


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