Great Expectations (1861) is the thirteenth novel by Charles Dickens and his penultimate completed novel: it depicts the personal growth and development of an orphan nicknamed Pip. The novel is set in Kent and London in the early to mid-19th century and is full of extreme imagery — poverty, prison ships and chains, and fights to the death and has a colourful cast of characters who have entered popular culture. These include the eccentric Miss Havisham, the beautiful but cold Estella, and Joe, the unsophisticated and kind blacksmith. Its themes include wealth and poverty, love and rejection, and the eventual triumph of good over evil. The novel was first published as a serial in Dickens's weekly periodical All the Year Round, from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. In October 1861, Chapman and Hall published the complete novel in three volumes.
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- My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.
I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his tombstone and my sister, — Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above," I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly.
- Ch. 1
- Now, I ain't alone, as you may think I am. There's a young man hid with me, in comparison with which young man I am a angel. That young man hears the words I speak. That young man has a secret way pecooliar to himself of getting at a boy, and at his heart, and at his liver. It is in wain for a boy to attempt to hide himself from that young man. A boy may lock his door, may be warm in bed, may tuck himself up, may draw the clothes over his head, may think himself comfortable and safe, but that young man will softly creep and creep his way to him and tear him open.
- Ch. 1
- Ask no questions, and you'll be told no lies.
- Ch. 2
- Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than the dirt itself. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and some people do the same by religion.
- Ch. 4
- In the little world in which children have their existence whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a big-boned Irish hunter.
- Ch. 7
- That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different it's course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for the moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.
- Ch. 9
- I had been to see Macbeth at the theatre a night or two before and she reminded me of the faces rising out of the witches' cauldron.
- Ch. 17; Pip describes Molly, Mr. Jaggers' housekeeper
- My guiding star always is, Get hold of portable property.
- Ch. 24
- Throughout life, our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for the sake of the people we most despise.
- Ch. 27
- Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together...
- Ch. 27
- All the truth of my position came flashing on me; and its disappointments, dangers, disgraces, consequences of all kinds, rushed in in such a multitude that I was borne down by them and had to struggle for every breath I drew.
- Ch. 39
- Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There's no better rule.
- Ch. 40
- Compeyson's business was the swindling, hand writing forging, stolen bank-note passing, and such-like. All sorts of traps as Compeyson could set with his head, and keep his own legs out of and get the profits from and let another man in for, was Compeyson's business. He'd no more heart than a iron file he was as cold as death, and he had the head of the Devil afore mentioned.
- Ch. 42
- You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since, — on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made are not more real, or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation, I associate you only with the good; and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!
- Ch. 44
- "Glad to part again, Estella? To me, parting is a painful thing. To me, the remembrance of our last parting has been ever mournful and painful."
"But you said to me," returned Estella, very earnestly, "'God bless you, God forgive you!' And if you could say that to me then, you will not hesitate to say that to me now,— now, when suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but — I hope — into a better shape. Be as considerate and good to me as you were, and tell me we are friends."
"We are friends," said I, rising and bending over her, as she rose from the bench.
"And will continue friends apart," said Estella.
I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.
- Ch. 59
- Great Expectations at the Internet Archive
- Free eBook of Great Expectations at Project Gutenberg
- Great Expectations – Easy to read HTML version
- Great Expectations – PDF scans of the entire novel as it originally appeared in All the Year Round
- Original manuscript – held at Wisbech & Fenland Museum
- David Parker's article on the London Fictions site about the London of Great Expectations
- Map of Dickens' London
- 1953 Theatre Guild on the Air radio adaptation at the Internet Archive