“Great Expectations” Review: How Pip’s Life Speaks A Lot About Mine, and May Be Yours

Pip’s poverty doesn’t necessarily cause him leaving his life and Joe. His wish of becoming a gentleman gets into his mind after Estella, the only woman whom he loves, mocks him. Pip wants to prove Estella that he is worthy of her love. So off he goes to London under mysterious inheritance from someone he doesn’t know about.

Thankfully, I am not as poor as Pip. My intention of leaving for Jakarta is on the back of my mind since I am at university level. I have no ideas what Jakarta looks like but like millions Indonesian living in villages, the capital is the city of promise, much like London is for Pip. I leave for Jakarta with huge dream and army of academic credential but few experiences.

Pip expects the money he inherits will make him a gentleman who deserves a place in elite class in London. And I live in Jakarta to earn good amount of money and establish my career as a reputable, if possible, an international caliber journalist. We both have dreams. We both expect something and someone.

It’s our expectations that drag us along the days, the weeks and eventually the years. Years pass us by and all that we face are conflicts, problems that get us to think: “Are we wrongly expect on that something or someone?” Or “Are we wrong to expect at the beginning?”

Reading Great Expectations then again lead me to come to a question that I and my close friends sometimes discuss about: “Can we expect our life be this and that? Or “Should we live the life like a flowing river?”

Great Expectations touches the basic question that I believe cross our mind one moment or the other time. As you live your life, do you live it with self-determination to chase after something or someone, or do you take and do whatever life has in store for you?

Interestingly, in Pip’s story, Charles Dickens turns the thing around about failed expectations to self-improvement that gets more attention as I read it until the last page. Personally, I think Pip’s expectations crumble down. He doesn’t only get Estella’s love but is also in huge debt. For worse (or better), the actual benefactor is beyond his expectation. I, too, has to resign sooner than expected because of conflicts in previous office. And now I have to set up a freelancing career on my own.

What is remarkably about Pip’s turning point in life is that he seems no longer putting as much weight on his number 1 expectation as before. His life as a Londoner meets him with various characters, some are good, some are bad. He learns that those with nice clothes and first-class reputation don’t automatically tell they are good people.

And as with Estella, Pip bitterly learns his pure love for her is taken for granted. As much as he believes Estella actually likes him in return, Pip realizes not everyone can be honest with his or her feeling. Not every one wishes to take a risk of fighting for what she or he loves. Much is in the case of Estella who gets married with someone whom she doesn’t love because she gets used to playing with boys’ hearts (as taught by Miss Havisham). It isn’t that surprising at the end of the novel, it is Estella’s husband that plays her heart and makes her a victim of his physical abuse.

As his expectations start fading away, Pip’s focus shifts to something more urgent which regards to the life of the benefactor. Here, Dickens implicitly says sometimes you need to be thankful for abundant problems in your life because they get you moving on with your life.

Fortunately (or not fortunately), Pip puts more and more energy to save the life of the benefactor who loves him so much that he is willing to give all his money for Pip despite the fact they meet for like, twice or three times, when Pip is still a small, sentimental boy.

The love from the benefactor then teaches Pip on unexpected thing that he gets so misunderstood for the whole time as he believes it is Miss Havisham who inherits the money. From this, Pip is awakened from his poor treatment to Joe who dearly loves him but gets Pip’s underestimation in return because Joe is poor and illiterate.

Pip’s expectations go from great to small yet meaningful one when all he cares is paying off what he can to the benefactor. At first, he wishes to get rid to him but as he shows his tenderness, Pip’s love grows bigger. He really treats him like his father and nurture him until the day he passes away.

And after that, Pip’s life gets straightened when he works so hard to pay all of his debt to Joe. Pip loses his initial great expectations but he isn’t that broken.


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