Why did Charles Dickens want to tell the story of Great Expectations?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Great Expectations is one of two intentionally semiautobiographical works for Charles Dickens.  The first, David Copperfield, was written when Dickens was young and optimistic.  It has a mostly optimistic ending, where the young man eventually finds happiness and love.  Great Expectations, on the other hand, explores the same themes but it is a much bitterer book.  In the end, the guy does not get the girl and unlike David Copperfield the book ends with Pip going off into quiet obscurity.

Dickens wrote this book as a warning that money does not buy happiness.  The main theme is that love is painful, and we are often unable to see the people that really love until it is too late.  Pip leaves his home, where he has people that do care about him such as Joe and Biddy.  He goes to the city, where everything is false and he too becomes false in his attempt to become a gentleman.  Money does not save Pip, it corrupts him.

Dickens himself was wildly successful.  He had all the money he needed, but was generally unhappy in love.  He fell out of love with his wife Catherine, and felt that she could not care for him or understand him.  He later had a mistress, Ellen Ternan, but that relationship was rife with controversy.

Great Expectations is a revision of the world view expressed in David Copperfield.  It is a bitter book with a bitter ending, full of betrayal and false friends.  It clearly shows how unhappy Dickens was near the end of his life, despite his best efforts to be otherwise.

sandydd | Student

Charles Dickens want to tell this story is to teach readers about the stereotypes during the Industrial Revolution, and not make the same mistakes Pip does. Wealth is often connect to having a better life and character, however, this not true through the characters of Estella and Miss Havisham. Estella is raised by a rich lady to wreak revenge on all men, but made her cruel and incapable of love. Miss Havisham is very selfish in training Estella in this way. The convict, the lowest in the society, is regard as bad. However, Magwitch, a convict in the story, works hard and give money, making Pip a gentleman, as a return of PIp's compassion shown in Chapter 1. When Pip becomes a gentlemen, he distanced away from his poor, lower class friend, Joe because he is now higher than Joe in social status. However, throughout the story, Joe is the only who show genuine love toward Pip, despite he is poor and common.

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Great Expectations

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