Author(s): Charles Dickens
Great ExpectationsBy Charles DickensIn an overgrown churchyard, a grizzled convict springs upon an orphan boy named Pip. The convict terrifies Pip and threatens to kill him unless the boy helps further his escape. Later, Pip finds himself in a ruined garden where he meets the embittered and crazy Miss Havisham and her foster child, Estella, with whom he instantly falls in love. After a secret benefactor gives him a fortune, Pip moves to London, where he cultivates great expectations for a life that would allow him to discard his impoverished beginnings and socialize with members of the idle upper class. As Pip struggles to become a gentleman, he slowly learns the truth about himself and his illusions, and is tormented endlessly by the beautiful Estella. Written in the last decade of Dickens's life, Great Expectations reveals the author's dark attitudes toward Victorian society, its inherent class structure, and its materialism. Yet it persists as one of Dickens's most popular novels. Richly comic and immensely readable, Great Expectations is a tapestry woven of vividly drawn characters, moral maelstroms, and the sorrow and pity of love.
An enduring classic from the greatest of storytellers
Charles Dickens was born in 1812 near Portsmouth, where his father worked as a clerk. Living in London in 1824, Dickens was sent by his family to work in a blacking-warehouse, and his father was arrested and imprisoned for debt. Fortunes improved and Dickens returned to school, eventually becoming a parliamentary reporter. His first piece of fiction was published by a magazine in December 1832, and by 1836 he had begun his first novel, The Pickwick Papers. He focused his career on writing, completing fourteen highly successful novels including Great Expectations, Oliver Twist and Bleak House, as well as penning journalism, shorter fiction and travel books. He died in 1870.