I took her hand in mine …

For my second quotation, responding to the tag challenge set me by Anne at Inked Brownies, I have picked another from the Classics:

‘I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so, the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.’

[Charles Dickens – Great Expectations]


I suppose not many readers think of Dickens as a writer of love stories. Great Expectations, like David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby and others are biographical in nature.They are life journeys, coming-of-age stories, and not romance in the usual sense. Yet the love Pip has for Estella (though not always reciprocated) is as passionate as any in literature. The story – boy meets girl, girl leaves boy, they find each other again – is typical of so many others.

But is it?

Dickens never intended the novel to have a Happy-Ever-After ending. The familiar passage at the conclusion of Great Expectations does indeed suggest a happy resolution. However, Dickens originally wrote a different one, where Pip and Estella part forever, and he was only persuaded to change it at the last minute by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, First Baron Lytton (better known for coining the phrases ‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’ and ‘It was a dark and stormy night.’ )

Even with Lytton’s intervention, there’s still something ambiguous about that last scene of Great Expectations.

Yet, even with Dickens wavering, I remain an optimist! Pip and Estella – like David Copperfield and Agnes Wickfield – SHOULD be together. Echoing (or nearly echoing) the words of Alan Jay Lerner,  when commenting on Shaw’s ending to Pygmalion, that he preferred his own:

– Dickens was wrong!


If any of my readers feel the inclination to pick their own quotations (at least three), please do so!


6 thoughts on “I took her hand in mine …

    1. bookheathen

      That’s a tricky one. It’s so much a matter of personal taste. But Great Expectations is as good as any, not quite as long as David Copperfield maybe. Oliver Twist, say, is a lot shorter than either if length worries you.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think Dickens could write about love splendidly, and this quote just proves that as well. Bleak House is full of love as well, and so are some of his Christmas stories. It usually involves a young girl with a WAY older man, but that’s drawn from his own life as well. I still feel sad for Mr Jarndyce not ending up with the love of his life, Esther Summerson, in Bleak House!


    1. bookheathen

      Just as you say. We expect a different approach to love in our modern literature, which is OK, but often there is no depth to it – which is where writers like Dickens could teach us a thing or two. And again, the young girl – older man pairing was a common thing back in mid 1800s; for example, my great-great-grandmother (PMPM) was only 17 when she married my great-great-grandfather (PMPP), who was 20 years older. These days, we tend to think of that as predatory.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah yes, it was way more common indeed. But let’s not forget about Mick Jagger fathering a child at 72 with a 29 year old now 😉


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