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brief introduction of Great Expectations

(2010-03-17 15:31:33)


Charles Dickens was born at Portsea on 7 February,1812,and christened Charles John Huffham.When he was eleven,his father was imprisoned for debt.As there was nowhere else for them to go,his mother and seven brothers and sisters joined their father in prison.Charles was lucky.A kindly relative found him work labeling bottles in a factory. For Charles,it was total shame.The experience of these months must have haunted him all his life.He never told anyone else about it,except his wife.
This experience might help to explain the nagging emotional insecurity and restlessness which friends percieved behind the magnetizing eyes,the vivacious personality and,later,the extremely successful author.It might also go some way to explaining Dicken’s burning sympathy for the poor and socially oppressed,which is one of the hallmarks of his work.
When he was 15,Charels began work in a lawyer’s office in London.He must have found the nature of the work slow and tedius for,only eighteen months later,he became a freelance reporter of the parliamentary debates,His first publication,Sketches by Boz,began to appear in magzines when he was still only 21.He wrote another ten novels over the following twenty-four yearsthe most famous of which are A Christmas Carol,David Copperfieldand Great Expectations.
Great Expectations was written by Charles Dickens around the time of 1860-1861 and was initially written as a periodical for a newspaper. The story centres around Pip, who is the main character of the book, and is written in the style of first person narrative. It is the classic story of “rags to riches” seen from the eyes of a young boy, Pip. Despite his abusive upbringing he manages to be a kind boy that leads him to a life of fortune, mystery, and heartbreak. He lives with his torturous sister and her kindly husband until an unknown benefactor showers Pip in wealth. He is sent to London immediately and begins his education as a gentleman. Through grooming he turns his back on the people he once loved for the new life, but is shocked with the revelation of his benefactor’s identity. Strange connections are discovered between his benefactor and the girl he loves and he realizes he only a part of something much bigger. In the end this is a story of unconditional love and forgiveness. Here is the story:
Pip, an orphan, is brought up by his abusive sister and her husband, Joe Gargery, the kindly village blacksmith. Magwitch, an escaped convict, confronts Pip in the churchyard on the Kent marshes and demands food and a file to break his chains. Out of fear Pip complies and Magwitch escapes. He is later recaptured and transported to Australia where he prospers.

     Pip is introduced to Miss Havisham an eccentric old woman, and her charge, Estella, with whom Pip falls in love. Estella has been taught by Miss Havisham to break men's hearts as restitution for Miss Havisham's having been left at the altar years before by Compeyson, who later turns out to be a convict who was once partnered with Magwitch.

Pip is apprenticed to Joe but longs to become a gentleman after having been made to feel inferior by Estella who had criticized Pip's "coarse hands and thick boots". He begins to be ashamed of Joe and home and enlists Biddy to help educate him.

     Pip and Joe meet the lawyer, Jaggers, at the local pub. Pip recognizes Jaggers as a man he has seen at Miss Havisham's. Jaggers relates to Pip and Joe that Pip has great expectations through an unnamed benefactor which Pip assumes is Miss Havisham. Jaggers tells them that Pip is to be released from his apprenticeship to Joe and become a gentleman and is to go to London to begin his education. As part of the mysterious circumstances of his great expectations Pip is told that he is not to try to discover who his benefactor is.

     Pip goes to London where Jaggers and his clerk Wemmick set him up to begin his education with Matthew Pocke, who is Miss Havisham's cousin. Pip has chambers with Matthew's son Herbert at Barnard's Inn and discovers Herbert is the "pale young gentleman" he had scuffled with at Miss Havisham's Satis House. Pip's sister, Mrs. Joe Gargary, has been attacked by Orlick, a journeyman blacksmith in Joe's shop. She lingers in a state of insensibility and later dies.

    Pip continues and finishes his education and secretly sets Herbert up in business. He becomes Estella's escort in London and continues to adore her as she continues to torment him. When Pip turns 21, and reaches his majority, he is told by Jaggers that he is to receive 500 pounds per year from his still unnamed benefactor. Pip wonders when Miss Havisham will make herself known as the provider of his great expectations and he will come into his promised property.

     On a stormy night in his 23rd year Pip is home alone and is visited by a man who seems to know him, but whom Pip does not recognize. Finally, to his horror, Pip recognizes the convict Magwitch and, to his further horror, Magwitch relates that it was he who has provided Pip's great expectations. Magwitch has returned to England, in violation of his sentence of transportation, to see the gentleman he has made.

     Pip learns that Estella will marry the hated Bentley Drummle. Estella quarrels with Miss Havisham over her heartless upbringing. Later Miss Havisham is repentant and begs Pip to forgive her. Pip rescues her when her clothes catch fire but she is badly burned and later dies. Pip's arms were also badly burned and he recovers slowly. Estella's marriage goes badly, she is mistreated by Drummle and she leaves him. Drummle later dies in an accident involving the mistreatment of a horse.

     Pip enlists Herbert to help him find lodging to hide the convict, now called Provis, until they can spirit him abroad. They lodge Provis in an upstairs room in a house at Mill Pond Bank, on the Thames, occupied by Herbert's fiancee Clara and her invalid father. They then make plans to take Provis down the river in an open boat and catch a steamer bound for Hamburg.

     On the way they are overtaken and Provis identified as the convict Magwitch by Compeyson. Compeyson drowns when he and Magwitch scuffle and fall from the boat. Magwitch sustains serious injury. Despite his health Magwitch is tried and sentenced to death but dies of his wounds before the execution can be carried out. Pip has learned that Magwitch is Estella's father and, now softened towards the convict, tells him of his daughter just before Magwitch dies.

     Magwitch's wealth, which was intended for Pip, is confiscated by the Crown and leaves Pip destitute and ill. Joe comes to care for Pip in his illness and for a while it is like the old days at the forge. Pip is truly sorry for having forgotten Joe, Biddy and Home. When his strength returns he decides to ask Biddy to marry him. On arrival at the forge he finds that Biddy has married Joe.

     Pip leaves England to take a clerk's position in Herbert's firm. After many years he returns to visit Joe and Biddy at the forge and finds a copy of himself, Joe and Biddy's son, sitting in his old corner in the kitchen firelight. He visits Satis House, now in ruins, and meets a now softened Estella with the "freshness of her beauty gone but its indescribable majesty and its indescribable charm remaining" .





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