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The Multiverse of Great Expectations: ‘Please, sir, I want some more.’

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • September 01, 2022

We hope you're enjoying our series of blogs exploring the "Multiverse" of selected classics by featuring inventive books and films inspired by our favorite time-honored tales. Past installments have included Alice in Wonderland, the Brontës, The Wizard of Oz, and Pride and Prejudice. Now, drawing from reader suggestions, we offer a collection of ten imaginative takes on the works of Charles Dickens!

Marley

"Marley was dead, to begin with," we learn at the beginning of A Christmas Carol. But in Jon Clinch's prequel, Jacob Marley is very much alive. The story explores Marley's complicated relationship with Ebenezer Scrooge, starting when they meet as boys and embark on their ruthless quest for fortune.

Jack Maggs

From Booker Prize-winning author Peter Carey comes this reframing of Great Expectations from the point of view of the hardened criminal seeking vengeance and reconciliation. As various schemes converge, Maggs rises into the center, a dark looming figure, at once frightening, mysterious, and compelling.

The Dark Knight Rises

A Tale of Two Cities served as the inspiration for this 2012 Batman film by Christopher Nolan. The character of Bane mirrors that of Madame Defarge as he pursues legal action against the ruling elite of the city of Gotham—even knitting during the trials. Other references include Bane's catchphrase, "the fire rises."

Mr. Pip

In a novel that is at once intense, beautiful, and fablelike, Lloyd Jones weaves a transcendent story about the power of narrative to transform lives. On a tropical island shattered by war, one teacher remains behind. After sweeping out the ruined schoolhouse, he reads to the children each day from Great Expectations.

Oliver!

Would Dickens have appreciated seeing his satirical social novel turned into a rollicking Oscar-winning musical? We'll never know for sure, but it remains one of the more accessible Dickens adaptations to be found. Beloved tunes include: "Consider Yourself" and "Where is Love?"

Pippa Park Raises Her Game

In this middle-grade retelling of Great Expectations, Erin Yun's central protagonist is a young girl from a working-class Korean-American family. After receiving a mysterious basketball scholarship to attend an elite private school, Pippa's juggling a lot, including a string of hateful, anonymous online messages.

The Man Who Invented Christmas

Directed by Bharat Nalluri, this film recreates the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge. The story traces the path Dickens followed as he mixed real life inspirations with his vivid imagination to conjure up the unforgettable characters and timeless tale that is A Christmas Carol.

The Magwitch Fortunes

Andrew Mudie's sequel to Great Expectations highlights the powerful activities of the convict hero, Abel Magwitch. Suffering under corporate skulduggery and a broken heart, Miss Havisham becomes a recluse raising the beautiful Estella who taunts her childhood friend, Pip Pirrip.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase

So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable. On Christmas Eve five years ago, she was visited by three Ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways. She didn't. This YA update by Cynthia Hand contextualizes the old tale for teens.

Manga Classics Great Expectations

See all of Dickens's eccentric characters—Pip, Miss Havisham, Estella, and Magwitch—through a manga lens. This colorful rendition of the classic tale is part of a fun series.

Let us know if there are any great Dickens retellings or adaptations we've missed here. We're already thinking about our next Multiverse installment, but feel free to chime in and let us know which other classics you'd like to see featured.

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