Great Expectations

by: Charles Dickens


The style of Great Expectations is primarily wry and humorous. Pip often describes events that are quite tragic and upsetting, but he typically does so in a way that relies on dark humor rather than evoking pity. For example, when he mentions his five dead siblings he refers to them as having “gave up trying to get a living exceeding early in the universal struggle.” When he describes the abusive relationship between his sister and Joe, he jokes that “I suppose both Joe Gargery and I were brought up by hand.” The humorous style shows Pip’s tendency to avoid being vulnerable both with readers and with the characters around him, since he does not want to be an object of pity, or be defined by his difficult childhood circumstances. He even jokes about the bad decisions of his younger self, making fun of how badly he managed his money and noting that he saw writing down his debts and actually paying them off as “in point of meritorious character … about equal.”