This unhappy ending in which the protagonist does not get the girl, Estella, was criticized by Dickens's mistress and his friend, the novelist Bulwer-Lytton, as simply too sad. Individually, they convinced Dickens that the reading public would prefer and even demand a happy ending, and so the completed text ends with a chance meeting between a widowed Estella and a single Pip, who ambiguously walk off into the twilight together. This original ending seems truer to Estella's background and motivations. After Miss Havisham's teaching, it is obvious that, if one husband expired, Estella would swiftly procure another. The re-written, happy ending does not seem as valid for the character of Estella, who never truly seemed to care substantially for Pip. Her suffering at the hands of her first husband would allow her to sympathize with Pip in the ruins of her former home, as she does in the re-written ending. In this original ending, Dickens presents a realistic conclusion to his characters' lives. The happy ending allows the suffering, hard-working Pip to be rewarded with that which he desires--Estalla. However, in the real world that Dickens was attempting to portray in this late novel, we are not always rewarded for our suffering and toil.

Other responses by students in English 3412, Lakehead University, Ontario


Victorian Web Overview Charles Dickens Great Expectations Discussion questions for Jane Eyre

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