Review: Great Expectations (Part 2)

15 01 2008

I didn’t enjoy my reading of Part 2 nearly as much as my reading of Part 1. As I said in my review for Part 1 I was most fascinated by the scenes with Estella and Miss Havisham and I found them severely lacking in Part 2. The standout scene for me was certainly the scene between the two of them in which Estella talks about her inability to express the type of love Miss Havisham expects of her precisely because of the way Miss Havisham has raised her. It stressed to me how our intentions and plans often have a way of complicating themselves and giving us simultaneously both what we did and did not want.

What mostly occupied my mind in this section was Pip’s conviction in the person behind his great expectations. Having already knowledge of this twist (thanks to the Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow update), I found myself shaking my head at how sure Pip was of Miss Havisham being his guardian and of her intentions for him regarding Estella. Something I can never know is how I might have reacted to this if I didn’t know his true benefactor. Would I have gone along with Pip and been just as startled by the revelation or would I have become suspicious because of Pip’s certainty and how much Dickens emphasizes that certainty? My guess is the latter, because I can be quite a suspicious reader and I know the kind of revelations and connections typical of Dickens (based on my viewing, not reading experience of his work). But then again maybe not. We never really know how we will react when confronted with a story for the first time and with no pre-knowledge of the plot and characters, and part of me wishes I was experiencing Dickens in print for the first time with no knowledge of what is to come so that I could delight more in the paths he chooses to take me on.

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