Book Notes

Notes on Great Expectations Themes

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Great Expectations Topic Tracking: Expectations

Expectations 1: When Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe hear that Miss Havisham wants Pip to visit, their excitement betrays their belief that Pip will only rise in status, with the catalyst of someone else's money/status.

Expectations 2: Just one day at Miss Havisham's, (especially one day of listening to Estella make fun of him for being common), has completely changed Pip's expectations for his own life.

Expectations 3: When Pip is dismissed by Miss Havisham and slated to begin his blacksmithing apprenticeship, he has very low expectations about achieving happiness as a blacksmith.

Expectations 4: When Pip receives news of his inheritance, he immediately notices a corresponding estrangement developing between himself and those people he most loves. Greater expectations, Pip realizes, mean he may no longer be content with the good things he already has.

Expectations 5: Pip's first glimpses of London--the grimy streets around Jaggers' office and the dismal Barnard's Inn--disappoint him. It's his first indication that his expectations may not be as grand as the realities he'll find.

Expectations 6: Estella seems little more than a puppet after being molded by Miss Havisham's crooked will for so long. She is an example that a person controlled by someone else's expectations isn't really much of a person at all.

Expectations 7: Pip thinks his "expectations" (his money, at least) have finally done him some good, when he's able to arrange a business opportunity for Herbert.

Expectations 8: When Pip finds out the truth of his benefactor--that he's a convict not a rich old lady--his expectations suddenly seem dashed. Therefore it's not just money but also the source of money, in which his expectations rely.

Expectations 9: Without a benefactor's money, Pip has to face the fact that he's not skilled for any profession, he has no real expectations in the world of business.

Expectations 10: After Pip gets over his initial repugnance about Magwitch, he feels great affection for him, as a person and a benefactor. Pip has learned that the good of a person is in their deeds, not their class status.

Expectations 11: His hopes for great gentlemanly renown now dashed, Pip expects to return to the village of his youth and be happy living the simple life there. This expectation is really just as romantic and idealized as his beliefs about becoming rich and gentlemanly.

Expectations 12: When Pip realizes he can't go back to life on the marshes, he is finally forced to develop some simple and realistic expectations. He works hard, and finds simple satisfaction and happiness in his life.

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