Charles Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations, first saw the light of day in 1860. In it, the English prose writer raised and criticized the important for his time problem of socio-psychological disunity between the upper world and ordinary working people.
The genre features of the novel are located on the plane of a classic work of the era of realism, generously flavored with original English humor and a bit of European sentimentality. “Great Expectations” is also a novel of upbringing, as it tells several stories of the formation of young personalities at once.
At the center of the story is Philip Pirrip or Pip, a former blacksmith apprentice receiving a gentlemanly education. The love of his life – Estella – the daughter of a murderer and a fugitive convict, raised by three years, Miss Havisham as a lady. Pip’s best friend, Herbert Pocket, comes from a noble family who has decided to connect his life with a simple girl, Clara, the daughter of a disabled drunkard, and honest work in the framework of trading activities. The village girl Biddy, who has been striving for knowledge since childhood, is a simple and kind teacher at school, a faithful wife, a loving mother. In retrospect, in Great Expectations, the story of Estella’s father and unknown for the time being, the patron of Pip, the eternal prisoner Abel Magvich, is revealed. The prison life of the latter began from the time of deep childhood, when a boy dying of hunger began to steal bread. Despite his unfortunate fate, constant misadventures, crimes and arrests, Magwich remains at heart a man – simple, honest, subtly reacting to injustice (Compenson’s betrayal) and mercy (Pip’s act). He knows how to be grateful, but at the same time, he is not alien to the desire to distinguish himself, to rise above the richer Americans than he is.
While Miss Havisham educates Estella in order to amuse her broken heart and through her to avenge as many men as possible, Abel Magwich wants to repay good for good, and give her life meaning, and wipe her nose for those cowboys who turn their back on nose from him. In a sense, Pip and Estella’s life resembles the fate of Frankenstein. The English gentleman and lady are created artificially. There is nothing in their souls or in their genes that would connect them with the higher world. Pip, who embarked on the path of a new life much later than Estella, is more difficult to give gentlemanly changes. Brought up as a lady, from the age of three, Estella knows no other life. Arrogance and heartlessness are almost natural to her. Pip, on the contrary, periodically returns thoughts to Joe’s simple-heartedness and Biddy’s touching care for him, realizing that with him he is no longer on the road, and with such as Estella or Mr. Matthew Pocket, the title-obsessed wife, is also not on the road. In fact, Pip is “between heaven and earth.” His place is located only in the border area – a trading activity with which his best friend Herbert is engaged.
Pip’s character is shown in “Great Expectations” in dynamics. The boy is constantly changing under the influence of external factors, the main of which is his love for Estella. At the same time, the main “core” of Pip’s nature remains unchanged. The hero tries to return to his natural kindness throughout the entire time of his gentlemanly training. Unlike Pip, his sister’s husband, the blacksmith Joe Garderi, is an integral character that cannot be changed by anything. Once upon a time taking care of the boy, Joe loves him as his own son and does not take any money for him when he is offered them as a “payoff” for an apprentice, does not spare his money to cover Pip’s debts. Joe’s bright, excessively satirical “counterbalance” in the novel is his uncle, Mr. Pumblechook. The main character trait of this character is the desire to stand out at the expense of the nobility. Pumblechook doesn’t put Pip in a penny as a child, but with constant devotion and passion shakes hands with him and fondles him in the period of his gentlemanly greatness.
The humorous component of the novel is expressed in caustic, critical remarks expressed by Pip regarding certain events, places or people. For example, when he learns that he has become the owner of a great fortune, Pip notes with what pleasure he informs the sellers who are bored in his shops about this and with what lightning haste this news makes them immediately focus on a rich client. With inimitable humor, Pip also describes the disgusting production of Hamlet, which is watched somehow in London.
Realistic features in “Great Expectations” can be seen both in the social conditioning of the characters’ characters and in the descriptions of the small town of Pip and the vast, dirty London.
The sentimental beginning of the novel is connected with the artistic image of Miss Havish, whose whole life was spent in a yellowed wedding dress surrounded by rotten wedding treats. The home environment and lifestyle of the old lady might seem farcical if they did not have so much internal tragedy. The heroine’s final insight, coupled with the collapse of Pip’s “great hopes” for a bright, gentlemanly future, leads her to a cleansing with a flame and subsequent redemptive death. Pip, forever in love with the inaccessible and cruel beauty Estella, in the finale receives another hope for a change in his bachelor position.