Roberta Writes – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: The mystery of two endings

Did you know that Charles Dickens re-wrote the ending of Great Expectations?

He made this change after he’d submitted the final chapters to the printers in June 1861. He was apparently persuaded to make the change by a close friend who felt he should end the book in a way that left the reader hopeful that Pip and Estella might get together. It is recorded that Dickens was reluctant to make this change but was eventually won around to the idea of a more conventional ending that he had originally written.

The initial ending depicts Pip accidentally meeting Estella on the streets of London. Estella has lost her first abusive husband to death, but has remarried. Pip recounts this chance meeting as a once-off and there is not expectation by the reader that the two will ever get together. Pip does express a sense of satisfaction and peace that time…

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