After about five months of bedtime reading, I am finally getting around to finishing (for the third time) one of my favorite novels- Great Expectations. I probably took this long because I was reading it from my phone using Play Books. I think I would have been faster and enjoyed it more if it had been an actual book, the tattered old copy from 11th grade lying on the shelf in my room in Bangalore.
It’s a classic for a reason. The themes are relevant even today, as they must have been all those years ago. For those of you that haven’t read it, GE is the story of a little boy who moves from his village to London to become a gentleman. It is as the title suggests- the setting of expectations and how close or distant it is from reality; of wealth and poverty, of love and rejection.
What I love about this book is the depth and idiosyncrasies of every character, his/her background and why or why they don’t behave a certain way. Miss Havisham, the rotting bride in her once white dress is my favorite. Shutting away the sunlight, punishing herself for someone else’s deception is the sub-story that speaks to me most. She is a fascinating woman, and in my opinion, a sort of witch on the outside, damsel on the inside. Wemmick is another endearing character what with his dual personalities, one for the office, the other for his home.
As you can imagine, I have watched a couple of movies adapted from the book. My preference is the one with Ralph Fiennes as Abel Magwitch and Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham. I liked this one as much as the Harry Potter movies- not exactly like the book but close enough. These actors are also quite phenomenal.
The recent Bollywood adaptation Fitoor, which also has the amazing Tabu, I didn’t enjoy as much. I will admit, I stopped watching once Noor (Pip) went to Delhi (London). I lost my patience with it as soon as Miss Havisham/ the Begum didn’t live in a dark house that shut out the sunlight. This is my bias, I know that, and I should probably finish watching it to have a fair opinion. Hopefully, I will get around to it. But what is due credit to the movie is the music- it has this romantic, serene and soothing quality that I liked even before I attempted to watch the movie. Not to say that Bollywood adaptations of western novels/ plays are lacking. Some fine works of example are Omkara (Othello), Haider ( Hamlet) and Ram Leela (Romeo and Juliet).
Adaptations aside, this book has had a profound affect on me and the way I view life and its many experiences- that every instance is a part of a larger picture, that it all makes the little pieces of the puzzle. It’s not something that we should necessarily understand at that moment, but just know that in the end, it will all come together, because that’s how it was meant to be.
These words on my ankle are an excerpt from that paragraph in the ninth chapter.
A small example of that is how life made me meet Heiko at the right time. Earlier or later than July 2014, it probably wouldn’t have worked out the way it did, or that’s my belief- timing and chemistry is almost everything.
So, as I finish reading Great Expectations another time, I just wanted to say- “Thank you, Mr. Charles Dickens!”