After some herculean reading efforts yesterday, I’ve managed to make it to the 70% mark, which I think warrants me a pat on my back. Reading Great Expectations has been, thus far, an exercise in commitment and perseverance. I have become ever more grateful to my Kindle because when reading off an eReader, you aren’t able to viscerally feel the cumulative weight of the pages you have left to read. This is a gift.
The story is not without some interesting arcs, and I’ve finally discovered who Pip’s benefactor is. A few things surprised me here:
(1) I didn’t expect to discover the identity of Pip’s benefactor until nearer to the end of the book
(2) I didn’t expect it to take as long as it did to confirm Pip’s age: I went from making guesses at his age for the first half of the book, to having it spelled out for me twice within a handful of chapters – Dickens, you spoil me.
And finally (3) -not really a surprise- turns out that lingering feeling I had about the importance of the convicts was right after all.
I would have expected Pip to feel more grateful to the convict for his good fortune, for facilitating his reaching his ‘great expectations’ – but I suppose he is too preoccupied with social hierarchies to see beyond that in those he deems to be below him. Which is the point Dickens is trying to make, I suppose.
Where this book has been an exercise in persistence for me, it is an exercise in posturing and self-promotion for the characters. Each one is so concerned with being ‘proper’ and eager to climb up to the next rung in the social ladder (with the exception of Miss H. and Estella).
Admittedly, Dickens does (did) have a gift for crafting really interesting relationships between his characters.