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Our expectations in the 21st Century, whether great or modest, differ somewhat from the 19th Century ones depicted here, Pip is not exactly, in a position to maximise his number of friends on Facebook, nor win a television talent contest, a point where his expectations might be the exact inverse of his talent. Nevertheless, some things are unending, unchanging and constant: the need for love, security, pleasure and fulfilment. Dickens allows his central character to taste the ephemeral pleasure of success, but ultimately discover that greater happiness can be achieved through meaningful achievements and emotional satisfaction.

At the heart of the book is redemption: Magwitch, seemingly, an unreconstructed bad-un, softens so significantly it is as if his rough hands and harsh character were immersed in a Dickensian version of Fairy Liquid. And Pip himself, ultimately showing his disdain towards the disdain he showed towards the wonderfully stoic Joe Gargery and Biddy.


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How splendid to see pompous old Pumblechook lose his aura of glory by association, a bit like hearing the air going out of a balloon with a soggy hiss, as Pip's expectations diminish and Pumblechook's with them. Oh, Miss Havisham, why couldn't you have been around now to put your gloriously run-down house and brewery onto a television makeover show and have your own damnation and descent halted and turned around as swiftly as your environment?

Finally, Estella, two endings, the one used most during Dickens lifetime sufficiently enigmatic. Sad she never discovers who her father was during the narrative - but if, indeed, Pip ended up with her, it would be a good source of bedtime conversation if ever a sudden whim caused her to regress to her teenage self and allow headaches or other impositions - including the memory of Miss Havisham - to impede their love life.