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Irony in literature
“Great Expectations!”

About this poem

Irony in novels, film or movies, is a technique that writers of all ages, past and present, have employed, and continue to employ, to create outcomes that are rife with irony, contrary to great expectations of what was, or might have been expected, in the process, captivating their readers or their audiences, and holding their attention in suspense to the very end. Achieving and epitomizing this to the fullest degree, is Charles Dickens’s classical 1861 novel, “Great Expectations,” whose book title, serves as an audaciously riveting caption of that genre of literature, presenting Pip, the story’s character, Philip Pirrip, as the protagonist; and the novel’s supporting character, Magwitch, as the duplicitous quixotic gentleman, who portrays ironically, in Dickens’s work of art, a sense of evil combined with kindness towards Pip, a metaphor for pipsqueak or fall guy. The great irony in the novel is Pip’s surprising discovery that wealth and power, which he craves for, do not and can never equal or amount to enduring happiness. Rather, the opposite of his “great expectations,” that the convict Magwitch (quite possibly a reference to Macbeth’s three witches in Shakespeare’s play, “Macbeth”), is his mysterious benefactor, proves to be the case. Pip discovers in the end that loyalty, friendship and good virtue (Faith, Hope and Love) are more essential than social class and the accumulation of wealth. He redeems himself by proving after all, and ironically so (to himself, as well as to us), that he is neither a pipsqueak nor a fall guy. As a pre-teenager, I saw the 1946 version of the British drama film, directed by David Lean, and starring actors John Mills and Valerie Hobson, when it appeared on the screen in movie theatres in British colonial Jamaica, in 1947. I call this three-line haiku poem, “Captivating,” suggesting that, as a caption, it captures and amplifies the message of irony, especially in Dickens’s masterpiece novel, “Great Expectations,” and in classical literature of all ages, in general. 

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Written on December 12, 2021

Submitted by karlcfolkes on December 12, 2021

2 sec read

Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1995 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s “Dear Mili” Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

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"Captivating" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 17 May 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/115657/captivating>.

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What year was "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral" originally published?
  • A. 1789
  • B. 1701
  • C. 1761
  • D. 1773