by Charles Dickens
Analysis: Writing Style
Ornate, Grandiose, Verbose, Specific, Detailed, Surprising
Reading Great Expectations is like driving down the freeway, spotting some neat roadside attraction, taking the exit, getting out to explore the cute little town, and then suddenly realizing that you're TWENTY MILES AWAY from where you should be. You've wandered too far. You're lost. It's getting dark. And the gas station is closed.
In other words, Dickens loves detail, and he loves spinning elegant language, and sometimes those two loves meet to create whole new worlds within his overarching story. Take a look at the excerpt below:
The Queen of Denmark, a very buxom lady, though no doubt historically brazen, was considered by the public to have too much brass about her; her chin being attached to her diadem by a broad band of that metal (as if she had a gorgeous toothache), her waist being encircled by another, and each of her arms by another, so that she was openly mentioned as "the kettledrum." (31.2)
Dickens is describing one of the actresses in Mr. Wopsle's Hamlet, but we totally forgive you for not figuring that out. That's one WHOLE sentence, friends. Did you see the punctuation that lives in there? And how amazing is the phrase, "gorgeous toothache"? Reading Dickens wading through miles of language and then suddenly stumbling upon a pearl: a piece of juicy gossip, a beautiful speech, a revelation of truth. And the fact that you waded through that language and hiked through the foliage of words makes your discovery all the sweeter and more profound.