The novel Great Expectations
The novel Great Expectations (1861) by Charles Dickens is set in the early 19th century in Kent and London during a period concerned with societal rank and status. The novel is a Bildungsroman that depicts the individual growth and development of orphaned Pip who is both the narrator and protagonist in the story. The novel’s path emerges from the confrontation between the two periods of time which portray Pip as a regular boy who later transforms to a gentlemen A frightening encounter with an escaped prisoner in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the eccentric, hostile Miss Havisham and stunning but callous Estella who is not only adopted by Miss Havisham but also under her tutelage and ingrained in her to wreak revenge on men..
Pip also receives shocking news of a mystifying generous benefactor-these form a series of events that change the orphan, Pip’s life forever, and he keenly abandons his humble origins to embark on an improved life beyond the marshes in his vision to become a gentlemen; consequently, the novel explores moral liberation that depicts Pip’s education and development in the course of adversity as he determines the true nature of his ?great expectations’. Furthermore, this essay will explore Pip’s perspective on the relationship between Miss Havisham and her adopted daughter Estella.
The bond between Miss Havisham and Estella is a master-apprentice one rather than a mother-daughter relationship. In fact, there is no bond beyond the instruction of Miss Havisham’s cynical schooling that entail that Estella is insensitive to all men, she is literally brought up to torment and scorn men. “She hung upon Estella’s beauty, hung upon her words, hung upon her gestures… As though she were devouring the beautiful creature she had reared”(Dickens 1861:302), the imagery created here suggests that Miss Havisham was deeply fascinated with Estella and everything she represents, as a result of what Miss Havisham has created her to be, she is so enthralled and captivated in Estella that she could greedily devour her; here, Miss Havisham is admiring her own work, for she has turned Estella into stock and stone.
In chapter 38, as soon as Estella and Pip arrive, Miss Havisham starts hanging over Estella. Not only does she keep a firm grasp on Estella’s hand, but Miss Havisham also gazes at her with immense approval, as though Estella were more valuable than any other individual on earth. At long last, Miss Havisham directs her concentration toward Pip, saying, “How does she use you, Pip; how does she use you?” (Dickens 1861:302), it is here that Pip understands that, indeed, Miss Havisham utilizes Estella to get even with every one of the men who has wronged Miss Havisham – so she is present, as she alludes to herself, a ”spinster.” She will not allow Estella to marry him; Pip induces, until the point when she has cast off numerous suitors.
Miss Havisham is particularly proud of Estella for she embodies what was ingrained in her from adolescence; to ridicule men as revenge for Miss Havisham’s past adversity wherein she was ditched at the altar by her swindler fiance and, as a result leaving her a cynical woman ever since. Thus, Miss Havisham has made it her ultimate mission to inculcate this antagonism toward men in Estella as well. She shows no regard towards Pip as an individual and does not do much to veil her true plans that await Pip. The expression ?use’ in “how does she use you” illustrate her total disregard for Pip as a person as she makes reference to ?use’ and recurs this as though he were an object to be used and dispersed by Estella.
Estella has been shaped into the cold-hearted woman she has grown to be and has even kept Miss Havisham up to date in letters enlightening her of the men mesmerized by her beauty and charm, she also informs Miss Havisham about their conditions. They had conversed over this all the while with Pip in their presence. “I saw in this, that Estella was set to wreak Miss Havisham’s revenge on men” (Dickens 1861:302), Miss Havisham loathes all men and plots to inflict a cruel vengeance by coaching Estella to break their hearts, as well as Pip, who loves her dearly despite her coldness; Miss Havisham has completely shattered her likelihood to feel love or act in a way that is not cold and callous toward men. Pip saw in this the analogy that in the same way that after the storm, approaches the rainbow, and therefore deduced that after Estella’s practicing on Pip, she would later marry him.
Pip’s speaks figuratively when he makes reference to Estella as if she were something to win or compete for in order to reach. “Even while the prize was reserved for me” (Dickens 1861:303), he refers to her as that of a prize because it was impossible to have her as she had not known love and therefore was not able to feel what Pip had felt for her. She was merely somewhat a creation of Miss Havisham designed to torment men with her beauty. Pip comes to realize that she was not to be his until Miss Havisham was pleased with Estella’s callousness toward men. For this reason, she was like a prize that was reserved for Pip or so he thought. It is owed to Miss Havisham that Estella was not able to reciprocate Pip’s strong feelings he overwhelmingly felt for her, and she cautioned him of this hence, she was his impossible dream. Even then, he still convinces himself of his worth to Estella still believing that she is going to marry him.
Only now had Pip seen Miss Havisham transparently for who she is and that the work of Estella was owed to her in particular. “I saw in this, Miss Havisham as I had her then and there before my eyes, and always had had her before my eyes” (Dickens 1861:303), Dickens makes use of repetition here as he emphasizes on the word “had”, which makes clearer that he had finally seen her for her vengeful ways.
This phrase also goes to show that Pip was now more alert than ever and understood what he had interpreted from what he had gathered there and then. “I saw in this, the distinct shadow of the darkened and unhealthy house in which her life was hidden from the sun.” Pip makes use of ?darkened’ which sets the mood at this point in the novel and also refers to the Satis house as ?unhealthy’, Dickens uses personification to bring the house to life in order for us to better attain a better perspective from the imagery. Satis house is depicted as gothic and haunted. Thus, it can, therefore, be seen as in sync with Miss Havisham whose appearance and persona has become darkened as it is decomposing along with her inside. The house is as haunted as Miss Havisham’s soul that is dark and sinister because of her misfortunes. Dickens uses the word sun because in contrast to Miss Havisham as the sun is bright and yellow and is associated with positivity and happiness, as opposed to Miss Havisham in the aforementioned.
Although it appears that Miss Havisham only raised Estella to wreak revenge on all men, this is incorrect as we see a different side to her when Pip observes them arguing for the first time, consequently as Estella pulls away from Miss Havisham?s grip which makes her question Estella’s hardness. This leads Miss Havisham to accuse her of being ungrateful and cold-hearted towards her and Estella responds by saying “I am what you have made me.
Take all the praise, take all the blame” (Dickens 1861:304), When Miss Havisham demands Estella’s love, Estella responds that she cannot give what Miss Havisham never gave her. Here is a terrifying look into Miss Havisham’s child rearing. She has raised Estella with no feeling of self, without anything to have trustworthiness too. Estella feels that she has a place together with Miss Havisham as an insignificant pawn in Miss Havisham’s plan against men. The way that Miss Havisham’s adoration shades so effectively into envy raises doubt about whether it is love by any means. To be sure, Estella infers that her own powerlessness to cherish is expected due to never having been recognized herself.
We, therefore, see that the relationship between Miss Havisham and Estella, from Pip’s perspective, portrays the unusual and antagonistic relationship between them. The reason behind this upbringing is because of Miss Havisham’s scorned heart, thus she shapes Estella to be the cold-hearted person that she had reared. Although it does not seem evident, Miss Havisham does love Estella however, she does not reciprocate as she is what Miss Havisham had made her, cold and uncaring; Miss Havisham comes to regret this later on.
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