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Book Talk: Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations"

By Alanna Warwick-Smith

Did you know that Tuesday, 9 June 2020 marks 150 years since the death of Charles Dickens? The noted English author penned some of the world’s best-known stories such as “A Christmas Carol,” “Oliver Twist,” “David Copperfield,” and “A Tale of Two Cities,” to name a few.

When discussing Dickens, it would be remiss to not include what I consider one of the greatest coming-of-age love stories of all time, “Great Expectations.”

I first read a children’s adaptation of “Great Expectations” when I was 7 years old, and the novel has remained one of my favourite books through every phase of my life due to its comprehensive and brutally honest telling of its main character’s, Pip’s, life.

In my research for this article, I stumbled on a quote by George Bernard Shaw that praised the novel as “[a]ll of one piece and consistently truthful.”

As you are introduced to Pip, an orphan boy, at the start of the novel, and the cast of characters who eventually colour his life, it is important to pay attention to the sheer amount of interactions Pip is exposed to. Dickens establishes from early on the importance of a parental presence, or lack thereof, in the development of a child.

Pip’s relationship with the emotionally elusive Miss Havisham establishes the domino effect of Pip’s life events we witness throughout the novel. Miss Havisham, committed to her own suffering, treats the children in her life, specifically young Estella, like playthings where she can re-enact – and preferably recreate – the past. Her manipulation of Estella and, by association, Estella’s manipulation of Pip, casts a shadow over the entirety of the novel. Pip’s pursuit of love and self-betterment is encapsulated by his love for Estella.

“Great Expectations” is a love story of great proportions, spanning continents, detailing turmoil and ultimately chronicling the life of a boy and his struggles as he grows into a man.

“Great Expectations” is available to order at Books & Books in Camana Bay.

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About the author

Alanna Warwick-Smith is a Marketing Coordinator supporting the business development and real estate marketing team for Dart. Alanna has worked in Dart’s flagship development of Camana Bay for the past eight years, when she began her career working at the town’s bookstore, Books & Books. A lover of the written word, Alanna reads and writes poetry in her spare time, and has written content for a range of platforms in the past, including her own blog and Camana Bay Times.