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Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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For Further Reference

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Baker, Ernest A. The History of the English Novel. Vol. 7. London: Wetherby, 1968. This is the most notable history of the English novel. In addition to an account of sources and a summary of Great Expectations, Baker provides much sound criticism.

Dyson, A. E. The Inimitable Dickens: A Reading of the Novels. London: Macmillan, 1970. Lightly written, yet scholarly and useful, the chapter on Great Expectations is particularly rewarding.

Gold, Joseph. Charles Dickens, Radical Moralist. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1972. Gold examines in depth the moral values and human psychology in Great Expectations.

Hobsbaum, Philip. A Reader's Guide to Charles Dickens. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1973. Includes a perceptive chapter on Great Expectations, together with a good bibliography of critical studies of the novel.

Page, Norman. A Dickens Companion. New York: Schocken Books, 1984. An excellent reference, this work is ideal for a quick survey of the composition, reception, and modern criticism of Great Expectations.

Van Ghent, Dorothea. The English Novel, Form and Function. New York: Rinehart, 1953. Especially useful for students, this textbook edition points out problems and contains discussion questions.

Zasadinski, Eugene. "Charles Dickens." In Research Guide to Biography and Criticism, edited by Walton Beacham. Washington, DC: Beacham Publishing, 1985. This article is the best aid to selecting and researching term paper topics. It provides an overview and evaluation of biographies and critical studies of Charles Dickens.

Media Adaptations

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  • Great Expectations was first adapted by film in the silent movie version in 1917, released by Paramount Pictures, on five reels, Famous Players Film Company, 3 January 1917, and presented by David Frohman.
  • A 1934 remake, poorly directed by Stuart Walker, starred Jane Wyatt as Estella and Phillip Holmes as Pip, but the public thought their performances were lackluster. Universal released this film on eleven reels.
  • A British production of the novel on film was made in Great Britain in 1946, directed by David Lean and available from Rank/Cmeguild This most acclaimed of the film versions of Dickens' novel stars John Mills as Pip, Valerie Hobson as Estella, and Alec Guiness as Herbert Pocket, Jr., and it won two Oscars in 1947. According to critic Robert Murphy, it was "one of the finest of all film adaptations of Dickens."
  • Two critical adaptations of the novel were captured on film in 1962 dealing with (1) setting, character, and themes and (2) critical interpretation. Each of these two films were produced for a high school or early college audience by the Encyclopedia Brittannica Corporation, and each are 35 minutes in length.
  • In 1973, the University of Michigan produced a dramatization of Dickens' attack in Great Expectations on the upper class of British society, with a senior high to college level audience in mind. Available on the Dickens' World Series from the University of Michigan, this film runs 29 minutes.
  • A 1974 version by Scotia-Barber/ITC was released in 1974 in Great Britain. Joseph Hardy directed.
  • Produced by the BBC, the first close-captioned version of Great Expectations was made in 1981 and released in the US in August 1988 by CBS/Fox Video. Starring Gerry Sundquist, Stratford Johns, and Joan Hudson, it was directed by Julian Aymes and runs for 300 minutes (also available on two cassettes in Great Britain from BBC/International Historic Films, Inc., #R249).
  • Great Expectations: The Untold Story was adapted for viewers from Magwitch's point of view. Featuring John Stanton, Sigrid Thornton, and Robert Coleby, and directed by Tim Burstall, this video was released by Facets Multimedia, Inc. in 1987.
  • Great Expectations was filmed for prime time television by Primetime/Harlech Television in both Great Britain and the US in 1989. This was a made-for-TV presentation in 1989.

(This entire section contains 510 words.)

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  • was filmed for prime time television by Primetime/Harlech Television in both Great Britain and the US in 1989. This was a made-for-TV presentation in 1989.
  • Walt Disney Home Video also has a 1989 version of the novel on video, starring Jean Simmons and Anthony Hopkins, directed by Kevin Connor, and running 325 minutes.
  • Two 1978 animated versions of Great Expectations represent Dickens' tale of Pip. One is close-captioned, directed by Jean Tych and produced by Burbank Films for Live Home Video, and the other is available from Library Video Company, both running 72 minutes.
  • Selected readings from Great Expectations is available on audio tape from Time Warner. The 1994 tape, accompanied by a study guide, runs 72 minutes and is narrated by Michael York.
  • A 1987 unabridged sound recording on eleven cassettes (approximately 16 hours running time) includes both endings to the novel. The narrator is Frank Muller, and the set is available from Recorded Books in Charlotte Hall, MD.
  • A 1981 abridged version, two cassettes running 180 minutes, is read by Anton Rodgers, available from Listen for Pleasure, Downsview, Ontario. Both endings are included.

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Sources Bradbury, Nicola. Charles Dickens's "Great Expectations." New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990.

Brooks-Davies, Douglas. Charles Dickens: Great Expectations. London: Penguin, 1989.

Calder, Angus. Introduction to Great Expectations. Penguin, 1981.

Carlisle, Janice, ed. "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens. Bedford Books of St Martin's Press, 1996.

Connor, Steven. Charles Dickens. London: Basil Blackwell, 1985.

Cotsell, Michael, ed. Critical Essays on Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations." Boston: G.K. Hall, 1990.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expections. New York: New American Library, 1963.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations, edited by Margaret Cardwell. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1993.

Harvey, Sir Paul, Ed. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967.

Hochman, Baruch, and Ilja Wachs. Dickens: The Orphan Condition. Madison, NJ: Farleigh Dickenson University Press, 1999.

Holbrook, David. Charles Dickens and the Image of Woman. New York: New York University Press, 1993.

Hornback, Bert G. "Great Expectations": A Novel of Friendship. Boston: Twayne, 1987.

House, Humphrey. The Dickens World, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press, 1942.

Houston, Gail Turley. Consuming Fictions: Gender, Class and Hunger in Dickens's Novels. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1994.

Leavis, F. R., and Q. D. Leavis. Dickens the Novelist. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1970.

Lucas, John. Charles Dickens: The Major Novels. London: Penguin, 1992.

Meckier, Jerome. Dickens's "Great Expectations": Misnar's Pavilion Versus Cinderella. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2002.

Newlin, George. Understanding "Great Expectations": A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources and Historical Documents. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Page, Norman. A Dickens Companion. New York: Schocken Books, 1984.

Prentice Hall Literature: Gold. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1989.

Sandrin, Anny. Parentage and Inheritance in the Novels of Charles Dickens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Schilling, Bernard Nicholas. The Rain of Years: Great Expectations and the World of Dickens. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2001.

Steward, Joyce Stribling, and Virginia Rutledge Taylor, eds. Adventures In Reading: Classic Edition. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1968.

Watkins, Gwen. Dickens in Search of Himself: Recurrent Themes and Characters in the Work of Charles Dickens. Houndmills, UK: Macmillan, 1987.

Worth, George J. "Great Expectations": An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1986.

For Further Study Barnard, Robert. Imagery and Theme in the Novels of Dickens. Humanities Press, 1974. Includes valuable discussions of the images and themes that Dickens pursues in his novels, including Great Expectations.

Becker, Mary Lamberton. Introducing Charles Dickens. Dodd, 1940. This biography contains the story of Dickens' late-life encounter with a boy who, like himself in his youth, holds dreams of someday becoming the master of Gad's Hill.

Buckley, Jerome Hamilton. Season of Youth: The Bildungsroman from Dickens to Golding. Harvard University Press, 1974. Provides an important discussion of Great Expectations in the tradition of the bildungsroman, a type of novel that focuses on the coming of age of a major character.

Chesterton, G. K. Charles Dickens, 22nd edition. Methuen, 1949. Besides "The Boyhood of Dickens" in Chapter 2, an excellent commentary on the lowbrow character of some highbred gentlemen (168) and "The Alleged Optimism of Dickens" in Chapter 11.

Clark, William Ross, ed. Discussions of Charles Dickens. Heath, 1961. An anthology of criticism from the late nineteenth century into the twentieth, including Gissing, Bush, Orwell, House, Stange, Moynahan, and Miller.

Collins, Philip, ed. Dickens: The Critical Heritage. Barnes, 1971. A collection of contemporary responses, reviews, and critical interpretations of Dickens' works.

Connor, Steven. Charles Dickens. Basil Blackwell, 1985. Groups discussions of Dickens' novels according to theme; the essay on Great Expectations is found under the category of "Self and System."

Coolidge, Archibald C. Charles Dickens as a Serial Novelist. University of Iowa Press, 1967. A valuable study of the manner in which Dickens wrote his novels for publication in periodicals in installments, and the effects that this manner of publication had on the development of his works.

Dickens, Mamie. My Father as I Recall Him. Dutton, n.d. Dickens' love of Gads Hill and his intensity in living with the characters he created.

Fielding, K. J. Charles Dickens: A Critical Introduction. David McKay Co., 1958. An influential study of Dickens' works in which the author emphasizes, among other things, the fact that the novels can be interpreted in a variety of ways.

Fielding, K. J., ed. The Speeches of Charles Dickens. Oxford University Press, 1960. Dickens addresses the need for more and better schools for lower class children.

Ford, George H. "Charles Dickens." In Dictionary of Literary Biography Volume 21: Victorian Novelists Before 1885, edited by Ira B. Nadel and William E. Fredeman. Gale, 1983, pp. 89-124. Dickens' biography, criticism, and themes, interwoven as Bildungsroman in the author's life and work.

Forster, John. "Great Expectations." In The Life of Charles Dickens. Scribners, 1904, pp. 355-61. Dickens plans Great Expectations as an autobiography similar to David Copperfield's.

Garraty, John A., and Peter Gay, eds. "From Liberalism to Democracy." In The Columbia History of the World. Harper, 1972, pp. 871-83. General background on the socio-economic influences of the time, including the force of democracy versus the fear of rule by the many illiterate.

Gilmour, Robin. The Idea of the Gentleman in the Victorian Novel. Allen, 1981. A study of the cultural and political significance of "gentleman" as a recurring theme in Victorian novels; includes a discussion of Pip's desire to better his lot in life and to become a gentleman in the context of other works of Victorian literature.

Grebanier, Bernard D., Samuel Middlebrook, Stith Thompson, and William Watts, eds. English Literature and Its Backgrounds, Volume Two: From the Forerunners of Romanticism to the Present, 2nd edition. Holt, 1949. A comprehensive timeline of British literature, 1550-1940, and an illustrated chapter on "The Victorian Age" (417-48).

Hobsbaum, Philip. A Reader's Guide to Charles Dickens. Thames & Hudson, 1972. Provides a wealth of background information on Dickens' life, Dickens' England, and Dickens' novels.

Inglis, Rewey Belle, Alice Cecilia Cooper, Marion A. Sturdevant, and William Rose Benet, eds. Adventures in English Literature. Harcourt, 1938. A timeline of British Victorian authors (671) and a reprint of the chapter on Dickens' childhood from G. K. Chesterton's Charles Dickens, published in 1906 (1090-99).

Kaplan, Fred. Dickens: A Biography. Morrow, 1988. A comprehensive biography of the author that provides much insight into Dickens' life and into the composition of his novels.

Kent, Charles. Charles Dickens as a Reader. Lippincott, 1872. A personal view of Dickens by one who knew him and his lasting love of theater and audience.

Leavis, F. R., and Q. D. Leavis. Dickens the Novelist. Pantheon, 1970. Includes Q. D. Leavis' insightful essay "How We Must Read 'Great Expectations,'" a useful introduction to interpreting the novel.

Miller, J. Hillis. Charles Dickens: The World of His Novels. Indiana University Press, 1969. Includes an influential essay in which the author interprets the major themes of Great Expectations.

Nelson, Harland S. Charles Dickens. Twayne, 1981. Covers detailed information on the background, audience, and serialization of Dickens' works; also includes summaries of the novels.

Page, Norman. A Dickens Companion. Schocken Books, 1984. An invaluable resource with information on such topics as the composition, serialization, publication, and reception of Dickens' works.

Priestley, J. B. Charles Dickens and His World. Viking Press, 1969. A detailed study of the England of Dickens' day; useful for gaining a better understanding of the setting of his novels.

Sandrin, Anny. Great Expectations. Unwin Hyman, 1988. A collection of Dickens' criticism and biography, including the story he told of meeting a young boy who reminded him of himself as a child with dreams of becoming master of Gads Hill.

Slater, Michael. Dickens on America and the Americans. University of Texas Press, 1978. Dickens notes distinct differences between American and English factory wage slaves.

Slater, Michael, ed. Dickens 1970: Centenary Essays. Stein, 1970. Comedy social change, and children's issues are addressed, among others.

Storey, Graham, and Kathleen Tillotson, eds. The Letters of Charles Dickens Vol. Eight. Clarendon Press, 1995. Notable primarily for Dickens' 1858 admission of his failed marriage and his protection of the woman purported to be his mistress, closely followed by his will in which only his family is mentioned.

Ward, Adolphus William. Dickens. Harper, 1882. A generally positive review with attention to Dicken's revised ending as one that is less than expected.

Wilson, Edmund. The Wound and the Bow: Seven Studies in Literature. Oxford University Press, 1947. In the essay "Dickens: The Two Scrooges," Wilson became one of the first critics to focus on Dickens as an artist, and to attribute much of the darker themes in his novels to his personality and background.

Wilson, Angus. The World of Charles Dickens. Viking, 1970. Many illustrations and easy-to-understand text, including a description and illustration of the "Ragged Schools" (228-29).

Worth, George J. Great Expectations: An Annotated Bibliography. Garland, 1986. An invaluable resource that will direct the student to a variety of published material on Great Expectations for the study of this novel.


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Hornback, Bert G. “Great Expectations”: A Novel of Friendship. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Helpful introduction to the novel’s historical context, guilt theme, point of view, and symbols and images. Includes chapters on Pip and Magwitch that focus on Pip’s moral education. Argues that the novel’s significance lies in its thesis that evil in society can be fought only by confronting it in the self. Includes an annotated bibliography.

Johnson, Edgar. Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph. 2 vols. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1952. A standard biography that includes a chapter on Great Expectations, which provides a succinct discussion of characters and of Dickens’ opinion that money and materialism are corrupting forces. Pip’s fortunes are related to key events in Dickens’ own life.

Miller, J. Hillis. Charles Dickens: The World of His Novels. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1958. Includes an essay that explores the themes of identity and self-discovery in Great Expectations and traces Pip’s development from childhood isolation and alienation to moral descent and eventual transformation through love.

Sadrin, Anny. “Great Expectations.” Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1988. A comprehensive handbook with good chapters on the composition, historical background, setting, and biographical elements in the story. Presents a psychological interpretation of characters that mainly conforms to standard views while drawing on some critical perspectives and language. Includes an extensive bibliography.

Van Ghent, Dorothy. “On Great Expectations.” In The English Novel: Form and Function. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1953. A groundbreaking essay that studies the themes of guilt and atonement in the context of a dehumanizing society.


Historical and Social Context