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Free Study Guide for Great Expectations by Charles Dickens-Book Summary


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Great Expectations

Charles Dickens

Date of first publishing
Published in serial format 1860 -1861.

England, between a small village at the edge of the North Kent marshes, a market town in which Satis House is located, and the greater city of London.

Meaning of the Title
As a young man, Pip is led into making grave mistakes based on his false expectation of being a gentleman, his false expectation of marrying Estella, and his general false expectation of rising above his past. Ultimately, he learns that true worth comes from inside a man, and turns away from his once-great expectations.

Type of novel/Genre
Victorian, Gothic, Social Criticism, Bildungsroman (depicting growth and personal development). Autobiographical fiction.

Point of view
First person narrative in the past tense.


Philip Pirip, Pip

Varied: There are many conflicts though Miss Havisham is probably the most memorable. Also note: Magwitch, Mrs. Joe, Drummle, Compeyson.

Internal Conflicts
Miss Havisham had a broken heart and raised Estella to break a mans heart. Magwitch worked his whole life to make Pip a gentleman, yet he could never become one.

External Conflicts
Pip believes that social class determines a person's worth.

Miss Havisham dies in the fire. Pip attempts to get to London.

Pip lays aside his expectations of greatness.

Major Themes
Exploration of human emotional growth; Self-improvement; personal ambition.

Minor Themes
Loyalty, social class, innocence.

Satis House, Drummle (upper class); The clocks in Satis House don't work and time has stopped;. The way Estella is talked about, from Pip's point of view. What does the name Estella mean? "Stella" is Latin for star. Estella can be compared to a star as she is cold and distant, as well as being the faroff point that Pip strives to attain. Look at how he talks about her and the references in the text. The name is a big hint. Also, the references to burning. There are a few in there with Miss Havisham and Pip.

Pip believes Miss Havisham was his benefactor and that he can have Estella but he finds out that Magwitch is his benefactor and Estella was never meant for him.

Dual; tragedy and sadness.

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