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Great Expectations

Great Expectations


by Charles Dickens

Analysis: Tough-o-Meter

We've got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you'll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)

(5) Tree Line

Dickens might be long, but (no matter what your English teacher says) he's not exactly high culture. He was a popular novelist—not exactly Stephenie Meyer, more like Stephen King—and he's meant to be read. Back in the day before YouTube, even little kids would read him. You might run into some unfamiliar words, but nothing worse than "rimy" (1).

But that doesn't mean you can read it while watching the latest Real Housewives marathon. Dickens has Deep Thoughts, like this one:

Whenever I watched the vessels standing out to sea with their white sails spread, I somehow thought of Miss Havisham and Estella; and whenever the light struck aslant, afar off, upon a cloud or sail or green hill-side or water-line, it was just the same. Miss Havisham and Estella and the strange house and the strange life appeared to have something to do with everything that was picturesque. (15.4)

The language here is straightforward, but the idea? Well, let's just say that we're still trying to figure out what boats have to do with Miss Havisham.

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