Books | A cheat's guide to Great Expectations

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So many books to read before you die, so little time and actual motivation. Fear not, LSi brings you a short cut to expanding your literary knowledge, this time looking at Great Expectations by the one and only Charles Dickens.


Pip – Protagonist. Orphan. A bit annoying.

Magwitch – Unexpectedly benevolent escaped convict.

Pip’s secret benefactor Mrs. Havisham – Mad spinster. A sort of proto-crazy old cat lady.

Estella – Mrs. Havisham’s ward and subject of Pip’s affection. Bit of a bitch.

Herbert Pocket – His name is Herbert Pocket. That’s all you need to know.

Plot Summary

Drawing on his own depressing childhood Dickens tells the story of Pip, growing up penniless in rural Kent. Following encounters with Magwitch and Mrs. Havisham, Pip’s life changes beyond recognition. Trading provincial Kent for Holborn, Pip spends his 20s stalking Estella, despite her obvious lack of interest, and running himself into so much debt it makes your student loan look like small change.Despite Pip’s best attempts to emulate a character from Downton Abbey, high society will never accept him as one of their own. A load of stuff happens in the middle, and by the end, having burned an old woman to death, survived a kidnapping and declaring bankruptcy, Pip emerges humbled.

Key Points

• If a girl says she’s not interested, she means it.

• Don’t get obsessed with class: if you’re from Scunthorpe your posh friends over at Charles Morris are probably never going to be your best friends unless you’re related to a Habsburg.

• Aim lower. You might dream of becoming rich and successful but try to content yourself with a decent job. There’s no escape.

• Or you can always find solace in a dopey friend with a stupid name. There are plenty of Herbert Pockets out there. Chin up.

Ben Cook

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