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Narrated in the first person, Great Expectations tells the story of Philip Pirrip known as Pip from his disadvantaged start as an orphan in the Kent marshes to the improvement in his position following an anonymous allowance. Pip moves to London where, only after many trials, does he learn humility and the value of loyalty. Great Expectations was first published as a complete novel in October shortly after its serialisation in All The Year Round. Like David Copperfield, it drew on his early life, especially the trials of a boy who, about to enter his teen years, find himself challenged by tough life experiences.
From the opening passage itself of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the reader is drawn into the world of the hero, Pip, who is at that time, seven years old. The author creates an unforgettable atmosphere: the gloom of the graveyard, the melancholy of the orphan boy, the mists rising over the marshes and the terrifying appearance of an escaped convict in chains. Told in first person one of the only two books that Dickens used this form for, the other being David Copperfield Great Expectations is a classic coming of age novel, in which we trace the growth and evolution of Pip or Philip Pirrip to give his full name. Pip has lost his parents very early in life and is being brought up by his much older sister and brother-in-law Joe Gargery. His sister is a dominating and shrewish woman, while Joe is an affectionate man. Joe's uncle Mr Pumblechook another of Dickens' delightfully evocative names asks Joe to send Pip to the stately mansion Statis House ostensibly to play with the owner Miss Havisham's adopted daughter Estella.
This classic tale tells of an orphan, Pip, who through a series of strange circumstances first finds a trade as a blacksmith's apprentice and then learns that he has "great expectations" of a future inheritance from an anonymous benefactor. He soon learns to live the profligate life of a gentleman as he gradually sheds his associations with the gentle souls of his past, Joe the blacksmith and Biddy a level-headed young lady. He throws his money at improving the prospects of his roommate and friend Herbert and his heart at an "ice princess" whose heart will never respond. But then an escaped convict from his distant past comes calling, and all Pip's hopes dissolve.