Great ExpectationsBy Charles DickensIn an overgrown churchyard, a grizzled convict springs upon an orphan boy named Pip. The convict terrifies Pip and threatens to kill him unless the boy helps further his escape. Later, Pip finds himself in a ruined garden where he meets the embittered and crazy Miss Havisham and her foster child, Estella, with whom he instantly falls in love. After a secret benefactor gives him a fortune, Pip moves to London, where he cultivates great expectations for a life that would allow him to discard his impoverished beginnings and socialize with members of the idle upper class. As Pip struggles to become a gentleman, he slowly learns the truth about himself and his illusions, and is tormented endlessly by the beautiful Estella. Written in the last decade of Dickens's life, Great Expectations reveals the author's dark attitudes toward Victorian society, its inherent class structure, and its materialism. Yet it persists as one of Dickens's most popular novels. Richly comic and immensely readable, Great Expectations is a tapestry woven of vividly drawn characters, moral maelstroms, and the sorrow and pity of love.
Runner-up for The BBC Big Read Top 100 2003 and The BBC Big Read Top 21 2003. Shortlisted for BBC Big Read Top 100 2003.
Charles Dickens (1812-70) was a political reporter and journalist whose popularity was established by the phenomenally successful Pickwick Papers (1836-7). His novels captured and held the public imagination over a period of more than thirty years.
David Trotter is Quain Professor of English Language and Literature and Head of Department at University College London.
Charlotte Mitchell is Lecturer in English at University College London.