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'Great Expectations' Quotes

Charles Dickens' Autobiographical Novel

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Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

Oxford University Press
Study Guide We can learn a bit more about the life and experiences of Charles Dickens by reading his autobiographical novel, Great Expectations. Of course, the facts are immersed in fiction, which is part of what makes the novel such a masterpiece. Discover the life and misadventures of Pip, the orphaned protagonist of Great Expectations-- with these famous quotes, by Charles Dickens.

Quotes
  • "Now, I return to this young fellow. And the communication I have got to make is, that he has great expectations."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "Take another glass of wine, and excuse my mentioning that society as a body does not expect one to be so strictly conscientious in emptying one's glass, as to turn it bottom upwards with the rim on one's nose."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than dirt itself."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "It was understood that nothing of a tender nature could possibly be confided to old Barley, by reason of his being totally unequal to the consideration of any subject more psychological than gout, rum, and purser's stores."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "I never had one hour's happiness in her society, and yet my mind all round the four-and-twenty hours was harping on the happiness of having her with me unto death."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "So now, as an infallible way of making little ease great ease, I began to contract a quantity of debt."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There's no better rule."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "Some medical beast had revived tar-water in those days as a fine medicine, and Mrs. Joe always kept a supply of it in the cupboard; having a belief in its virtues correspondent to its nastiness. At the best of times, so much of this elixir was administered to me as a choice restorative, that I was conscious of going about, smelling like a new fence."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "All other swindlers upon earth are nothing to the self-swindlers, and with such pretenses did I cheat myself. Surely a curious thing. That I should innocently take a bad half-crown of somebody else's manufacture, is reasonable enough; but that I should knowingly reckon the spurious coin of my own make, as good money!"
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "So, throughout life, our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for the sake of the people whom we most despise."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born, in opposition to the dictates of reason, religion, and morality, and against the dissuading arguments of my best friends."
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  • "And could I look upon her without compassion, seeing her punishment in the ruin she was, in her profound unfitness for this earth on which she was placed, in the vanity of sorrow which had become a master mania, like the vanity of penitence, the vanity of remorse, the vanity of unworthiness, and other monstrous vanities that have been curses in this world?"
    - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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