Monday, July 27, 2015

This is the end…or is it?

I was assigned Great Expectations in 8th grade and thought I'd read it then, or major parts of it at least. Now having finished "re-reading" it decades later, I have become quite certain that I didn't read any of it back then because I didn't recognize anything.
Whatever didn't make it into the Classics Illustrated comic back then, I didn't know about.  Do you suppose, in the pre-Internet days, eighth grade English teachers were familiar with the 64-page cartoon book rendition of Great Expectations and asked final exam question slightly outside of its exposition?
Dickens ties everything up so neatly, nothing and nobody wanders through its 500 pages for no purpose. The critics say this is his most pared down book!
Its ending was re-written before publication, his editor prevailing upon Dickens to alter the ending to provide for Pip's total redemption.  The brutally brief and cold discarded ending had Pip walking along in London, much later, when he was summoned by a servant to a nearby coach being driven by a lady of means, Estella.
"[T]he lady and I looked sadly enough on one another. 'I am greatly changed, I know, but I thought you would like to shake hands with Estella, too, Pip.'  … .  I was very glad afterwards to have had the interview, for in her face and in her voice, and in her touch, she gave me the assurance that suffering had been stronger than Miss Havisham's teaching, and had given her a heart to understand what my heart used to be."

No comments: