Dickens's tenth novel, was published in 1861, nine years before his death. As in "David Copperfield," the hero tells his own story from boyhood. Yet in several essential points "Great Expectations" is markedly different from "David Copperfield," and from Dickens's other novels. Owing to the simplicity of the plot, and to the small number of characters, it possesses greater unity of design. These characters, each drawn with marvelous distinctness of outline, are subordinated throughout to the central personage "Pip," whose great expectations form the pivot of the narrative. But the element that most clearly distinguishes this novel from the others is the subtle study of the development of character through the influence of environment and circumstance. In the career of Pip, a more careful and natural presentation of personality is made than is usual with Dickens. He is a village boy who longs to be a "gentleman." His dreams of wealth and opportunity suddenly come true. He is supplied with money, and sent to London to be educated and to prepare for his new station in life. Later he discovers that his unknown benefactor is a convict to whom he had once rendered a service. The convict, returning against the law to England, is recaptured and dies in prison, his fortune being forfeited to the Crown. Pip's great expectations vanish into thin air. "Great Expectations" is a delightful novel, rich in humor and free from false pathos. The character of Joe Gargery, simple, tender, quaintly humorous, would alone give imperishable value to the book.
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