Originally published in serial form from December 1860 to August 1861, Great Expectations is the ‘autobiography’ of Pip, as he transformed from apprentice village blacksmith to a London gentleman. Unlike many of Dickens’s earlier works, the novel is not so much a protest against social evils as a sustained mediation upon the process of social reform in Victorian England. It is this which gives such importance to the book’s handling of the theme of the gentleman, a theme central both to Dickens’s society and to his own life story.
An absorbing mystery as well as a morality tale, the story of Pip, a poor village lad, and his expectations of wealth is Dickens at his most deliciously readable. The cast of characters includes kindly Joe Gargery, the loyal convict Abel Magwitch and the haunting Miss Havisham. If you have heartstrings, count on them being tugged.