Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Great Expectations

I'm reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It sure is slow going but it sure is good reading. Some paragraphs are a page long! 

I can't believe I read it in seventh grade because I don't remember any of it; or rather, perhaps I read the Classics Illustrated comic book back then instead of the novel. I can't believe they assign this dense and complex, but rich and exquisitely well developed, book to seventh graders, who surely could never follow all the goings on in it. Perhaps they don't assign it anymore, assigning instead, what, a Harry Potter book? 

I have reached what I think is the moral of the book, when Miss Havisham, with her heart of stone, begs Pip to forgive her someday for having so cruelly misled him for so long about his true benefactor but even more importantly, for having turned her adopted daughter, the beautiful child Estella, Pip's longstanding unobtainable love, into a cold and heartless adult incapable of love. Pip replies, "Oh Miss Havisham, I can do it now. There have been sore mistakes; and my life has been a blind and thankless one; and I want forgiveness and direction far too much to be bitter with you."  

This reduces the stern old spinster, who never left her bridal party room when jilted at the altar decades earlier, into a weeping and prostrate supplicant whom Pip comforts.  The evolution of a boy-turned-fop into a freestanding, freethinking young man who--what?  I'll find out in the coming days and weeks as I crawl through the last eighty pages or so.

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