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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
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The scene is misty and moonlit (symbolizing Pip's romantic,
unrealistic side) but the stars (symbolizing Estella) shine clear.
Pip notices that Estella has changed-she is still beautiful, but
softened by sadness. There's a quiet, restrained tone to their
conversation. The melodrama that used to surround Estella in
Pip's eyes is gone now, replaced by a realistic view of a human
being.

Pip's final line is, "I saw no shadow of another parting from
her"- meaning that there were no longer any barriers to their
getting together. But that line appeared only when the novel
was published in book form. In the magazine serial version, he
says, "I saw the shadow of no parting from her"- which could
be interpreted to mean that they would get together for a while,
but later they would break up. Just a word or two are different,
but they significantly change the feeling of the ending.

Which of these endings do you prefer?

1. Some readers have said that Dickens' first version is more
believable, because Pip is melancholy by nature and ought to
end up alone. They add that Estella has been so rotten to him
that the only happy ending is one where he escapes from her
influence.

2. Others like the magazine serial version, because it shows
that Pip is still romantic Pip, falling for Estella but Estella is
still Estella too, and will someday break his heart again. These
readers believe that Dickens saw life as an endless path of
suffering, with no real happy endings.



3. Others prefer the final version-not just because it's happy
but because it fits. They believe Dickens' message is that
people learn from suffering; Estella, like Pip, has reformed and
now they deserve happiness. These readers add that Dickens
has shown us it's good to forge ties to other people, so we
shouldn't want Pip to be solitary all his life.

Which ending is more satisfying? Which is more realistic? The
ongoing debate over this question just proves what a rich,
complex novel this is.

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
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