Finally touched down in Johannesburg on Saturday after finishing packing, saying goodbyes and a 22 hour journey including a 12 hour flight that was 2 hours delayed! On the bright side, I had plenty of time to finish reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens…
To be honest, I enjoyed this novel quite a bit more than David Copperfield. Again, Dickens’ fantastic portrayal of his broad range of characters stood out to me, and the language was hardly ever arduous. It was interesting to follow Pip on his development into a gentleman, and then on his arguably separate mental journey to become a better person – he had strong morals and was full of self-reproach, for instance in response to his ungratefulness towards Joe and Biddy, but it was satisfying to see him learn to behave better in the first place.
The theme of mirroring was very clever; I liked Dickens’ use of pairs and parallels that often contrasted each other to get his point across. Cruelty and kindness are juxtaposed through the two women Pip admires – who wouldn’t prefer sweet, generous Biddy in comparison to the cold-hearted Estella, draped in money as she is moulded to take revenge on men for her rich guardian? Similarly, Dickens conveys his disapproval of false sentiments through the characters of Mr Pumblechook and Pip’s convict, Magwitch. Mr Pumblechook’s name is not by any means the most ridiculous aspect of his character as Dickens mocks his untrue claims to be Pip’s earliest benefactor. On the other hand, despite his past lifestyle and ‘repulsive’ appearance, Magwitch proves to be one of the most generous/noble characters, and the reader understands this at the same pace as Pip.
My favourite aspect of Great Expectations were the unexpected twists, which I didn’t feel were present in David Copperfield (at least not to the same extent). Without giving too much away, I could never have guessed who Pip’s real benefactor was, or who he would end up with romantically – he was so well-matched to Biddy I thought the novel would have a predictable ending similar to the Agnes situ in David Copperfield! I was delighted to be wrong in this case; these sort of surprises really made the book by driving the plot onwards – a brilliant read.