Great Expectations

by: Charles Dickens


The tone of Great Expectations is often regretful and wistful. Pip is looking back at his behavior from a later stage of life, and he can now see that he often behaved in ways that were unintentionally judgmental and cruel. When Pip first meets Herbert Pocket, he forms the impression that Herbert “would never be very successful or rich.” Much later, Pip notes that “I often wondered how I conceived the old idea of his ineptitude, until I was one day enlightened by the reflection, that perhaps the ineptitude had never been in him at all, but had been in me.” Had Pip been more self-aware earlier in life, he might have made different choices and spared himself bad decisions and suffering. At the same time, the tone of his reflections is also often resigned to the fact that the past cannot be changed.