The First Ending (unpublished in the author's lifetime)

It was four years more, before I saw herself. I had heard of her as leading a most unhappy life, and as being separated from her husband who had used her with great cruelty, and who had become quite renowned as a compound of pride, brutality, and meanness.

I had heard of the death of her husband (from an accident consequent on ill-treating a horse), and of her being married again to a Shropshire doctor, who, against his interest, had once very manfully interposed, on an occasion when he was in professional attendance on Mr. Drummle, and had witnessed some outrageous treatment of her. I had heard that the Shropshire doctor was not rich, and that they lived on her own personal fortune.

I was in England again — in London, and walking along Piccadilly with little Pip — when a servant came running after me to ask would I step back to a lady in a carriage who wished to speak to me. It was a little pony carriage, which the lady was driving; and the lady and I looked sadly enough on one another.

"I am greatly changed, I know; but I thought you would like to shake hands with Estella, too, Pip. Lift up that pretty child and let me kiss it!" (She supposed the child, I think, to be my child.)

I was very glad afterwards to have had the interview; for, in her face and in her voice, and in her touch, she gave me the assurance, that suffering had been stronger than Miss Havisham's teaching, and had given her a heart to understand what my heart used to be. — based on the proof slip reproduced by Edgar Rosenberg in the W. W. Norton (1999) edition of Great Expectations, p. 492.

Questions

1. How does the original ending affect the plot of the novel?

2. How does he passage affect our understanding of the characters and their motivations;

3. How does the passage exemplify Dickens's style?

4. How the passage affect our understanding of the work's major themes — the term “theme" implying “narrative intention expressed in the form of a statement"?

Six responses by students in English 3412, Lakehead University, Ontario

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Last modified 29 June 2007