Great Expectations Chapters 1-13

As I go through my summer reading list, I’ve decided to write a few thoughts on what I’m reading. I don’t expect these to be the most sought after posts on the blog, but I’m all for diversity. Hit the jump if you’re interested. As I mentioned in the original summer reading post, this is the first Charles Dickens I’ve ever read. Going into it, I was actually worried that it would be dry and boring, but I’ve found it to be quite the opposite. I’ve had very few problems following the story and found myself laughing at Pip’s exploits quite a bit.

The basic story so far is that Pip’s a little kid whose parents died so he lives with his mean sister and her super-nice, though simple husband Joe. One night he gives an escaped criminal some food and a file only to find himself in the search party that leads to his recapture. The man comes back later and I’m sure will be an important factor in the rest of the story. Meanwhile, Pip is asked to hang out with this old woman named Miss Havisham who lives in a decrepit house, wearing a wedding gown that she never got married in. I’m guessing her husband-to-be died or bounced and she got left. Being a bit imbalanced, she decided to just sit there and be crazy instead of, you know, coping and moving on. I remember reading a few stories like this in college. I wonder if it was really something that happened a lot back then or just the fancy of quite a few authors poking at the aristocracy who could afford to do such things. In the last chapter I read tonight, Havisham told Pip to start apprenticing for his blacksmith brother-in-law.

So here’s my scattershot thoughts. Right off the bat, the narrator (Pip) is kind of a spoiler. He’s looking back at his childhood and remembering all these things, but he’s clearly an educated man, so you know things are going to get better for this orphaned blacksmith. Speaking of the narration, Dickens completely nails being a kid as far as I can remember. There’s all kinds of apprehension about adults, what they want and what they might do to you. In Pip’s case, the fears turn out to be pretty real, but for me they were just imagined. At the same time he still sees things that aren’t quite there and gets scared like any kid, also letting his imagination run wild any time he doesn’t anything wrong. I can completely relate to that.

There’s also an aspect of youthful rebellion bubbling below the surface. So far, Pip hasn’t outwardly done anything to rail against all of the adult assholes in his life (everyone but Joe and Ms. Havisham are pretty much useless jackasses), but he thinks about it. Or at least the future version of himself says he thought about it. Either way, you’ve basically got a kid questioning adults, why they’re being such jerks and wondering about what will happen to him the rest of his life. Who can’t relate to that?

I know you’re supposed to, but I really like Joe. He’s just such a nice guy. He reminds me of Dan Conner from Roseanne. He’s a hardworking guy who wants Pip to do what’s right, which means not lying to his sister and respecting her even though she seems like a hateful bitch. In fact, so far, the book doesn’t seem to favor women too well. They’re all either snooty snobs, self aggrandizing witches or crazy old women wearing one shoe. Then again, only Pip, the criminal and Joe seem like good guys with the rest deserving of a slap across the face.

So far, my least favorite character is that of Camilla who has some kind of connection to Ms. Havisham. The other women might be mean or crazy, but at least they’re pretty open about it while Camilla complains about having physical problems thanks to how much she cares and worries about other people. Mind your own business and deal with your own problems, lady! No one wants your pitty!

Well, I think that’s about it for now. The only additional info that I have aside from what I’ve read is what’s on the back of the book which says that Pip ends up with a mysterious benefactor and goes to London, which explains how he gets his education. I’m wondering if Matthew, the person that Camilla and her friends talk about in reference to Ms. Havisham’s funeral is the criminal or the mysterious benefactor. Clearly the criminal will be an important character, but I’m not sure if he will be a good one or a bad one as far as Pip’s concerned. We shall see!

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