In essence, a story of desire: for ambition, for love, for success, for money, and ultimately for freedom. Pip's genuine kindness mixed with an element of fear and personal terror, in caring for an abandoned convict upon the moors bequeaths him with an unknown life-changing gift that wraps the young and naive "Philip Pirrip" in a mist of entangling new experiences as he mingles with upper-class society, making friends, losing family, discovering a fortune and falling irresistibly in love with the sole woman without a true heart to return his affections: “I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.” The well-known Miss Havisham's romantic dispositions fill the pages with an underlying romanticism burdened with reality's weight, threat, and distinctive demoralizing tinge of disappointment in love. Thematic threats of social boundaries, class structures, love, family, upbringing, poverty, crime, motherly relationships and friendship are intertwined in the novel as it follows the journey of an innocent boy into a world of unknown, danger, surprise and ambition.
Set in both London and Yorkshire of Victorian England amidst the industrialization, the historical and social context mirrors the struggling class mobility of Pip; similarly the two landscapes parallel the struggle of society's two halves as class boundaries, though slipping, remained present with the criminal convictions of poor and ostentatious wealth of well-born clash. The epitome of class, through Provis's challenge: "If I ain't a gentleman...I'm the owner of such" - as Dickens interweaves the social context of poverty and shifting wealth - personifies the hope of the era despite the abhorrence and disillusionment of incriminating poverty.
The innate style of Dickens entangles elements of context, culture and emotion throughout the plot line as he delicately weaves clashing images of poverty and affluence in a mist of description and elaborate language, mingled too with the individual speech of each character, defining it itself as Dickens manipulates language, tone and persona to depict classes and characterization simply through the power of his character’s words.
A page-turning novel with the suspense of Dicken’s chapter formation creating a continuous intrigue throughout the book; an uncontemporary love story set against the background of working class hardships mingled with poverty and the overriding human appetite for veracious ambition.
Book Reviewed by Genevieve
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