The Original ending that Charles Dickens wrote was quite short and to the point. In the original ending, it has been four years since they had last seen each other. Estella finds someone to get married to again and she marries a poor doctor. She comes out of a bad relationship and finds a better man to marry. Pip, on the other hand, stays single seemingly not to marry. Pip is stopped in London by a woman who is in a carriage.
It turns out that this woman is Estella. Estella and Pip have a short conversation before they part ways. It is implied that this will be the last time that Estella and Pip meet each other. There will be no chance of a reconnection or reconciliation with their relationship. This ending is sad and fits with the theme of the rest of the novel.
The published ending is much longer than the original ending. It is clear that Estella and Pip have not seen each other for some time, but no exact amount of time is given.
In the beginning of the published version, Pip has a short conversation with Biggs, unlike the original version. Instead of Estella and Pip having a short meeting, they have a long, drawn out conversation in a garden. They meet in the night while the moon and stars are shining bright. As Pip enters the garden, he sees the figure of a woman. This figure Pip soon recognizes as Estella. They talk for a while and during their conversation it is implied that Estella and Pip will end up together. This is because unlike the original version Pip and Estella leave holding hands. This ending is happy and contradicts the themes of the rest of the novel.
After reading both the original ending and the published ending of Great Expectations, I think that the original ending is a better fit to the book. Dickens really only changed the ending because his friends though that it should have a happy ending. The beginning of the book has a unhappy theme, the middle of the book has an unhappy theme, so the ending of the book should stay with the theme. It is easier to follow the theme of unhappiness when the whole story is consistent. The published ending changes the whole theme of the book to happy, which is not the theme portrayed throughout the rest of the book. Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Dickens friend, said that “the soul of a very long fiction should be pleasing”. Not every situation in life gives you a happy ending, so every book should not have to have a happy ending either.
The original ending was changed to please the people. The only reason the published ending was published was to please the readers and give them what they wanted. Not everyone is always going to agree with everything that you write or say so you should not change the ending to your book to please others. Charles Dickens even said himself that “I have put in as pretty a little piece of writing as I could, and I have no doubt the story will now be more acceptable through the alteration”. Dickens knowling changed his ending just to try to get the books to have more view points. Dickens was under pressure to write a good novel because his last novel did not sell well. This was probably one of the main reasons Dickens chose to change the ending of his novel.
This novel was written in 1860 during the Romantic Period in literature. This most likely was another reason that Dickens decided to change his ending. His original ending left Estella and Pip off on bad terms. His published ending left Pip and Estella off on a more happy or even romantic ending. Dickens choice to conform to the style of literature that was popular in order to get more people to read his books. He could have still published his original version of the ending, but this goes back to feeling like he had to change the ending to please others.
Dickens allowed himself to be convinced to change his stories ending to one of happiness and promises rather than sadness and sorrow. As Christians, we are not promised to always have an easy life or the ‘happy ending’. John 16:33 says “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”. While we have peace in Christ, we do not have peace in this world. Sometimes in life we have to face sad and sorrowful things. When Dickens, and other authors, write all of their books with happy endings, people get the idea that their life should have a happy ending as well. Life can be really hard and tough at point, but we need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus.
Dickens also allowed himself to be easily persuaded. He wanted his book to sell and to do that he changed the ending of his novel to please his audience. The Bible talks about being in the world, but not being of the world. We do not need to conform to the wishes of the world, as Charles Dickens did. We, as Christians, have the responsibility to be different from the world. We should beacons of light to those who do not know Christ. We were placed on this earth to have an impact in lives of people on the earth. Dicken had an opportunity to show the world through his novel that happy endings do not always happen. Instead, he became of the world rather than just being in it.