Great Expectations. The Character Of Estella Essay, Research Paper
Great Expectations. The Character of Estella
One of our first thoughts, like readers, when we finish the novel is to establish two lists; one of good characters and other of bad characters. Since this paper is devoted to the character of Estella the question would be: is she a good character or a bad character? But, before beginning the analysis of Estella in the novel which will try to give an answer to this question, we are going to deal with the symbology of the name of Estella.
As we already know, the name of the characters in Dickens is very important. In the case of Estella indicates her personality, her relation with other characters and even the way in which she moves along the novel.
It is obvious Estella makes a reference to stars. Stars are cold but beautiful to see. The same happens with Estella: she has a cold personality but she is very pretty. Remember she was given to Miss Havisham at night which is when stars appear.
Stella (without the first ‘e’) is the name of Sydney’s beloved. Probably he gave his beloved this name because she was married in the real life and so, he could not reach her. Stars are far and they can not be reached by us. In GE Estella is presented as an impossible dream for Pip. In the same way Pip has expectations in a material level, Estella would be Pip’s love expectation.
In a Christian sense, the star is a quality applied to the Virgin Mary. Stars are used for orientation, to guide us when we are lost at night. We could say the Virgin Mary lights her sons in the night of sin. In the novel, Estella appears as a light, it is Pip’s orientation and he always has her in his mind.
If we look at the sky we can see different kinds of stars. One of them is a star which moves and shines in an intermittent way. That’s Estella’s movement in the novel. Joe, who is always in the countryside, and Mr Jaggers, who is always in London, are characters who appear in series of chapters. In constrast to this, Estella appears in that intermittent way. And also the way in which Estella’s story is presented by the different accounts of several characters.
Perhaps the symbology provided has not clarified much the question: she’s cold but she’s very pretty, she’s Pip’s guide but he can not reach her. This is something ambiguous (remember also the ambiguity in which the convict is described in the fourth paragraph of the novel). The characters in the novel are not extremely good or extremely bad (the exception would be Joe, in the good part, and Orlick, in the bad part), they are between the two lists that I mentioned at the beginning of the paper. We will see this now, with the analysis of Estella.
The first time which Estella appears in the novel is in chapter 8, in the first visit of Pip to Miss Havisham’s house. The first impression Pip has about Estella is also characterized by ambiguity: he thinks she is pretty but she is proud. Miss Havisham obliges Estella to play cards with Pip. The first time which appears the card game in GE is in relation to the battle of sexes since, after her frustrated marriage, Miss Havisham educates Estella to scorn men and in the card game Miss Havisham wants to see a victory of a woman over a man. Estella wins but the most important thing here is that Estella does not want to play with Pip because she thinks he is common. This shows the pride and the superiority in which Estella is presented in her relation to Pip, and it’s also important because, from this moment, Pip wants to be educated to be at the same level that Estella.
At the beginning of the novel we, like readers, like Pip because he is poor, a non-cultivated boy and he is an orphan. Moreover, he, as a narrator, tries to get the readers’ affection using irony and humour from the beginning. We are emphasizing this fact because in Pip’s second visit (in chapter 11) we see how Estella asks Pip his opinion about her, he answers she is pretty, she hits him and asks the same question and Pip says nothing. From this moment we don’t like her. After a new card game we have the scene of the fight between Pip and the other boy. Pip wins and Estella allows him to kiss her as a kind of prize. This is important because, if the first card game was related with the battle of sexes, this second card game is more related with the way in which a person moves in society. Estella tends to search for the company of the winners in society, the people who have a good position and wealth. And perhaps that’s the reason why she marries Drummle. The failure of this marriage will make to reconsider her thoughts, this marriage will humanize her, as we will see later.
In the following chapter (chapter 12) we have a new visit of Pip. In a moment in which Estella is not present Pip agrees with Miss Havisham that Estella is prettier and prettier. After this we have a new card game, this time more related to the battle of sexes again since during the game Miss Havisham advises Estella to break men’s heart and because it takes place before Estella’s departure. When Pip goes to Miss Havisham’s house for a new visit, Estella has gone abroad for her education.
We have to give a jump to chapter 29 for the following appearance of Estella. Nevertheless, in the previous chapter, when Pip is said Estella has come back and she would be glad to see him, Pip goes immediately to Miss Havisham’s. In his coach, whereas he’s thinking about Estella, two convicts go with him in the coach. It’s curious this contrast and we will see other contrast of the same kind later. In this chapter, Pip finds Estella very changed and prettier, Estella also thinks Pip is very changed. Estella has come back from France and now she has to go to London. In a moment in which Estella and Pip go for a walk she recognizes she doesn’t remember she hit him in one occasion and she also admits she has no heart. After this, Pip thinks he’s still an inferior being compared to Estella. Later, Miss Havisham says to him Estella has been educated to be loved and that night Pip dreams with marrying Estella.
That night it was established that Pip had to look for Estella when she went to London. The day of the encounter he arrives his appointment five hours early. When he was waiting for her he sees Wemmick who asks him to go to the prison with him. Again we have the contrast between the beauty of Estella and a place like a prison which is gloomy and sordid. But more than a contrast there is a relation between these two ideas. Notice that Estella’s father is a convict and that Estella’s mother didn’t go to prison thanks to the fact that Mr Jaggers’s intervention in the trial. When Estella arrives she says she has to go to Richmond where she is going to be introduced to many people and Pip can go there whenever he wants. Both of them talk about their fate and Estella thinks they have to do what they are said. At that moment she lets Pip to kiss her for the second time in the novel. It seems as though Estella did this whenever she finds Pip share her situation or her opinions.
An important chapter is chapter 38. At this moment of the narration we have the discussion between Miss Havisham and Estella. Miss Havisham says to Estella she has forgotten her and Estella, who gives Miss Havisham the treatment of ‘mother in adoption’, think that’s not true. The old lady asks for Estella’s love and she answers she has not been educated to love, emotion is something she can not feel. In spite of this new proof of Estella’s coldness, Pip is jealous when he sees Estella is flirting with Drummle and Estella says to Pip she will not deceive him, she has been educated to make suffer men but she is incapable to do any harm to Pip. There are two points of reflection here, The first one is that Pip is so blinded by his love for Estella that he’s incapable of seeing that Estella can not feel any emotion. The second one is Estella’s honesty. We’ll mention this question in the conclusion.
Six chapters later, Pip makes a new visit to Estella and he declares his love to her. She becomes indifferent and she confesses she’s going to marry Drummle. She tells that’s an idea of her and she has taken this decision because she was tired of the way of life she was leading.
But it’s in the last chapter of the novel when we see the consequence of Estella’s decision. Eleven years later Pip meets Estella in Satis House. Pip thinks Estella has lost part of her beauty. Both of them talk and Estella recognizes she has thought about Pip. Due to Drummle’s bad treatment, Estella has learnt to value what she had. All this takes place in a very peculiar setting: at night, with the stars shining and in a ruined house. it’s a very clear pathetic fallacy which comes to represent what they have become with the passing of time. They have not fulfiled their own expectations.
The great lesson Estella learns is that goodness does not come from a high social rank, it comes from inner nature. As a star is a heavenly body which has its own light Estella is a cold character who has a positive inner quality which is honesty. Estella is an example of how a woman, with good inner principles, has been a human failure because of the bad education she has received.