'Great Expectations' is Published
The plot of Great Expectations is also noticeable as indicating, better than any of his previous stories, the individuality of Dickens's genius.
Everybody must have discerned in the action of his mind two diverging tendencies, which in this novel, are harmonized. He possess a singularly wide, clear, and minute power of accurate observation, both of things and of persons; but his observation, keen and true to actualities as it independently is, is not a dominant faculty, and is opposed or controlled by the strong tendency of his disposition to pathetic or humorous idealization. Perhaps in The Old Curiosity Shop these qualities are best seen in their struggle and divergence, and the result is a magnificent juxtaposition of romantic tenderness, melodramatic improbabilities, and broad farce. The humorous characterization is joyously exaggerated into caricature,--the serious characterization into romantic unreality. Richard Swiveller and Little Nell refuse to combine. There is abundant evidence of genius both in the humorous and pathetic parts, but the artistic impression is one of anarchy rather than unity.
Though not considered as autobiographical as David Copperfield which he had published some ten years earlier, the character of Pip represented a Dickens who had learned some hard lessons in his later life. Especially strong throughout the novel are the concepts of fraternal and romantic love, how society thwarts them, how a man should find them.
For financial reasons, Dickens had to shorten the novel, making it one of his tighter and better written stories. It was published in serial form, as were all of his novels, and the reader can still see the rhythm of suspense and resolution every couple of chapters that kept all of England waiting for the next issue.