Mediocre Expectations

Miss Havisham... Oh God, is this going to be me in five years?

I have been known to get drunk and brag to guys that my IQ was in the 95th percentile. Why? I have no idea. Needless to say, they weren’t impressed. Which brings me to the next installment of my book reviews- or as I like to call it, “Literature from Hell Part Three: Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.

The first time I read this book, I was in high school. Well… now that I think about it, my previous statement is actually a half truth. I didn’t read it so much as I stared at the page until class was over. I brought the book home and still couldn’t focus on it. Who would name a child Pip? And who would trust a creepy woman like Miss Havisham with said unfortunate child?  Then there was a second attempt to read it in college, for fun. I didn’t make it past page 30. I even brought it with me on a long flight. In fact, it was the only thing I had to read and still, I couldn’t bear it. Instead I slept.

Usually at this point in most of my book reviews, I summarize and make fun of the plot. If you would like a plot summary click here. Even the summary is far too confusing for me to explain. In fact, in the middle of reading its third short paragraph my concentration began to fade.

Thinking back to my college and high school curriculum, my friends and I spent a lot of time finding ways around reading the books we were assigned. A lot.  Now I wonder how much untapped potential for mind expansion we wasted by not reading those books… Well… expansion or implosion… Yes, more likely it would’ve resulted in an implosion with pieces of brain splattered all over the page due of course to the “classics” that we were assigned. Those classics included but were not limited to Great Expectations, Ethan Frome, and my own personal favorite Heart of Darkness.

Well... I guess it beats being a "crazy cat lady"...

So after three more attempts to digest the summary while keeping my ADD in check, I have gathered the following: Pip, the main character, is an orphan. The book chronicles his growth into adulthood. During his childhood, he helps a prisoner escape capture and then falls in love with Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter who coincidentally ends up being the biological child of the prisoner Pip helps escape (oh, the irony!).

Hmmm... Well maybe not... I take back what I said about becoming a "crazy cat lady"...

Miss Havisham is indeed the most fascinating character in this novel. This lonely “spinster” spends her days and nights sitting around the dining room table as she ages in her decades old wedding dress. Yes, she wears a wedding dress from her youth. And yes, the dress is from a marriage that never happened but you have to give her some credit. Her strong sense of determination is indisputable. She has spent every day since being left at the alter sitting in her parlor in her yellowing wedding dress waiting for her groom to come back, or as an optimist would see it, merely keeping the dream alive. Dare to dream, dare to dream! Now that’s admirable persistence, in my opinion, though if he ever does come back I strongly feel that she should get a new dress, check out the sales rack at David’s Bridal or something, as I imagine the old dress (the one she’s been wearing for thirty years) is no longer white but a color comparable to a newspaper that has been left in the attic for a century or two.

The horror! The Horror!! Oh shit... wrong book! Whatever they both sucked!!

So far this sounds a lot more like a soap opera than anything else….

Pip falls in love with Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter, Estella, but Estella marries someone else (General Hospital anybody?) now in adulthood Pip is in severe debt, but luckily years earlier he was the benefactor of a large windfall- a windfall left to him by the very prisoner he helped escape years earlier! By some stroke of luck, after escaping jail (with Pip’s assistance), the prisoner became a very wealthy man. The prisoner did not forget Pip. By the end of the novel Pip uses the entire sum of money to pay off his extensive lifetime of debt, thus breaking even. Now if that isn’t a mediocre expectation than I don’t know what is. Inheriting a large amount of money only to have to throw the entire sum at a debt you spent your lifetime accruing?  And finally, Estella’s abusive husband dies and the book closes with the insinuation that she will now marry Pip. The End.

So it took 500 pages for him to tell a story that I could sum up in two paragraphs without ever reading it? Comments? Questions? Grievances???

Check out my previous installments of “Literature From Hell” or as I also like to call it “The Festivus of Book Reviews”

Literature From Hell: Ethan Frome Edition

Literature From Hell: My Heart of Darkness



Filed under Book Reviews

7 Responses to Mediocre Expectations

  1. Paul Roese

    i think Dickens was making the point of the damage that great expectations can have on a life and to rather live more in the moment because this moment is all you have. the length is to illustrate the struggle and time over which events take place and shape the characters. also back when this was written people didn’t have the option of waiting for the movie to come out or it was a BBC mini series. reading was one of the main forms of entertainment. sometimes the author is giving a realistic portrayal of a character. like there are points in The Hunger Games series where Katniss is almost insufferable to read about with her self absorbed whining and petulance but then you remember Collins is writing about an adolescent and it seems pretty accurate so you read on.

    • Hayley Rose

      What wuld I do without your clarifications Paul?? “i think Dickens was making the point of the damage that great expectations can have on a life and to rather live more in the moment because this moment is all you have. ” Mind blowing and it makes sense- tack this on to my ridiculous book review

  2. Linda Seccaspina

    I too did the same thing as you did and bypassed the big books but after many years I expect nothing. Sometimes I feel I am deserved something but then I realize I am just a spec on this earth and go one.

    • Hayley Rose

      One of my friends was analyzing the bad stuff that has happened to me this year- did you do something bad/ mean to get this type of karma? He asked…. well of course not! LOL so yes no expectations and mediocre expectations seem reasonable sometimes don’t they?

  3. Paul Roese

    if you applied the same reasoning to TV shows or movies the plot points could be condensed into 1 or 2 hour programs for most series and 40 minutes for most movies max. i can tell you the plot outline and basic story of the Hunger Games or Lord of the Rings but does that give you the sense of having read the book? it’s kind of like saying you only want to hear the first ten minutes of Mozart’s Symphony No.40 or see only one Van Gogh painting and don’t need to experience the art any further. i struggled with Camus writing but soldiered my way through them and found it was only afterward upon reflection that i began to appreciate them and get their insights. i didn’t appreciate modern jazz or electronica but the music began to grow on me. modern culture presents the false view everything should be easy but that’s not how life is for most of us. getting things easy often leads to becoming spoiled and jaded. a certain amount of effort and struggle is good and makes one proud of any success that results.

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