Great Expectations Book Summary

by Charles Dickens6


Great Expectations by Charles Dickens chronicles the life of Pip, an orphan, as he navigates love, wealth, and societal struggles, highlighting themes of loyalty, conscience, and social class.

Cover of Great Expectations Book Summary

Get the Book

What is Great Expectations about

Great Expectations, written by Charles Dickens, is a Victorian-era novel that follows the journey of Pip, an orphan who aspires to become a gentleman. The story begins with young Pip encountering a convict named Magwitch, who later becomes a significant figure in his life. Pip falls in love with the beautiful but cold-hearted Estella, the ward of the wealthy and eccentric Miss Havisham. The novel delves into themes of crime, punishment, social class, and personal growth, making it one of Dickens's most celebrated works.

Great Expectations 6 Key Takeaways

Pip's Early Life and Encounter with Magwitch

Pip, raised by his sister and her husband, Joe, encounters an escaped convict, Magwitch, in the marshes. This meeting sets the stage for much of Pip's future.

Pip Meets Miss Havisham and Estella

Pip is introduced to Miss Havisham, a wealthy recluse, and her beautiful ward, Estella. He becomes infatuated with Estella despite her cold demeanor.

Pip's Mysterious Benefactor

Pip learns that he has come into a great fortune from an unknown benefactor, allowing him to move to London and live as a gentleman, though he assumes Miss Havisham is behind his newfound wealth.

Discovery of Magwitch's Role

Pip discovers that Magwitch, the convict he helped as a child, is his true benefactor. This revelation upends Pip's understanding of his social standing and ambitions.

Climax and Resolution

Pip attempts to help Magwitch escape from the law, which leads to a dramatic climax. Eventually, Pip recognizes the true value of loyalty and affection over wealth and social status.

Pip's Redemption and Reconciliation

In the end, Pip reconciles with Joe and Biddy and comes to terms with his past mistakes and misjudgments, finding peace and personal growth.

Great Expectations Best Reviews

  • 'Great Expectations is a masterpiece with rich characters and intricate plotlines that explore themes of ambition, social class, and personal redemption.' – The Guardian
  • 'Dickens's profound exploration of human nature and societal flaws makes Great Expectations a timeless classic.' – The New York Times

Top Great Expectations Quotes

  • 'We need never be ashamed of our tears.'
  • 'I have been bent and broken, but—I hope—into a better shape.'
  • 'The broken heart. You think you will die, but you just keep living, day after day after terrible day.'

Who should read Great Expectations?

Great Expectations is ideal for readers who appreciate classic literature rich in character development and social commentary. It's perfect for those interested in exploring themes of ambition, social class, and personal growth. Mature readers and those with an interest in Victorian England will particularly benefit from Dickens's intricate storytelling and moral lessons.

About the Author

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is one of the most celebrated authors of the Victorian era, known for his keen social commentary and memorable characters. His works include classics such as 'A Tale of Two Cities,' 'Oliver Twist,' and 'David Copperfield.' Dickens's storytelling prowess and his ability to address social issues through engaging narratives have left a lasting impact on English literature.

Great Expectations FAQs

What is the Great Expectations book about?

Great Expectations tells the story of an orphan named Pip who narrates his life journey from childhood to adulthood, dealing with themes of ambition, social class, and personal growth.

Is Great Expectations a hard read?

Great Expectations can be challenging due to its Victorian-era language and dialects. Some readers may find the UK-specific wording and accents difficult, especially if they are unfamiliar with them.

What was the message of Great Expectations?

The moral theme of Great Expectations emphasizes that affection, loyalty, and conscience are more important than social advancement, wealth, and class.