Great Expectations Essay Research Paper Great ExpectationsGREAT

Great Expectations- Essay, Research Paper

Great Expectations-


By Anne Gilmour. November 1996.

Of the major themes from Charles Dickens novel “Great

Expectations” to be discussed as to their importance

concerning its structure, I have selected “Love” in the

context of human relationships, “Isolation” and finally

“Redemption”. The loneliness isolation brings can only be

redeemed by the loving associate of our fellow man, this is

a two way thing.

“Had grown diseased, as all minds do and must and

will that reverse the appointed order of their maker.”

In isolation the greatest sin we commit against

ourselves and others, is to shun human companionship as Miss

Haversham did. After her betrayal in love she hardened her

heart towards her fellow man. By hardening her heart and

suppressing her naturally affectionate nature, she committed

a crime against herself. Miss Havershams love for Compeyson

is of a compassionate kind, this blinded her to his true

nature, as Herbert remarked, “too haughty and too much in

love to be advised by anyone.” At Compeysons desertion her

anger and sorrow became extreme and she threw herself and

Satis House into perpetual mourning and a monument to her

broken heart, shutting the world out and herself from the

world. Her only concession is in her adoption of Estella.

Miss Haversham has ulterior motives in adopting

Estella, this is not a loving action on her part, but a

calculated manoeuvre to turn the child into a haughty,

heartless instrument of revenge against men. Estella is

encouraged to practice her disdain on Pip and to break his

heart. Paradoxically, Miss Havershams greatest sin, is

against herself. By hardening her heart she loses her

generous, affectionate nature and becomes withered inside

emotionally. Her punishment is that the heartless young

woman she has made, uses her lack of feelings against Miss


Estella herself is isolated, as for most of the novel

she takes pleasure in her role of avenger. Her isolation is

in part responsible for Pips snobbery and his estrangement

from Joe and Biddy. Like Miss Haversham she becomes a victim

of her own machinations. She enters into a loveless marriage

to Drummle, who is cruel to her. This shows that no matter

how heartless one tries to be, there is always someone more

heartless. The instrument of revenge punishes the avenger

and is punished in return.

Pip feels emotionally and geographically isolated on

his arrival in London. Jaggers isolation is his deliberate

rejection to human involvement, he substitutes these with

the mechanical process of law. Jaggers uses the legal system

to avoid personal responsibility for the fate of his fellow

man. This profession has imprisoned his better instincts,

leaving him isolated within the system. Magwitch, however,

is isolated by the system, he uses Pip as his agent of

revenge. Magwitchs’ motives are not only revenge, but also

gratitude for the food Pip gave him in his hour of need. He

develops a fatherly affection towards Pip, who in the end

returns his affection. It is Magwitch who has the best

reasons for disbelieving in human companionship, that

supported it the most.

Love in the context of human relationships is best

shown through Pip. The relationship between Pip and Joe

changed as Pip grew up. As a child, Pip regarded Joe as an

equal, though he loved him, “I had a new sensation of

feeling conscious that I was looking up to Joe in my heart.”

Though there is love, the snobbish Pip is critical of Joe,

not verbally, but in his thoughts. When Pip attains his

“Great Expectations,” he is embarrassed by what he regards

as Joe’s commonness and avoids his company.

Pip’s conscience makes him realise, Joe has more

gentlemanly qualities than he himself possesses, his remorse

however is short lived. When Pip’s fortunes take a fall he

is too ashamed to approach Joe and Biddy, their love is too

strong however and are there for Pip in his hour of need.

In Pip’s relationship with Biddy, he is very

condescending, and shows disregard for her feelings, ” If I

could only get myself to fall in love with you,” is a prime

example. Pip compares Biddy to Estella and overlooks her

obviously good qualities. After his loss of fortune, Pip

decides to honour Biddy by marrying her. “I would go to

Biddy.” Pip still snobbishly thought Biddy would be glad to

marry him. However, Biddy has married Joe. Though she was

once half in love with Pip, Biddy recognised his obsession

for Estella and wisely sought a partner elsewhere. Biddy and

Joe share the same values and are ideal partners.

Herbert and Clara, Mr Wemmick and Miss Skiffin and Mr

and Mrs Pocket have loving steady relationships.

Pip’s sexual attraction towards Estella is more

romantic ideology than genuine love. He envisions Estella as

a captive princess and himself as the heroic knight, only he

can awaken love in her heart. Even though Estella tells him,

“I have no heart”, he does not believe her.

Does Estella believe what she says or is she trying

to convince herself? Is she using her unattainability to

perversely keep Pip’s interest?

Redemption is attained by Miss Haversham when she

humbles herself to ask Pip’s forgiveness. After the cruelty

she has endured at the hands of Compeyson, Estella emerges a

more compassionate person. Pip’s forgiveness and love from

Joe, Biddy and Magwitch. He endures hardship and

triumphantly emerges a mature, thoughtful person.

The themes of Love, Isolation and Redemption are the

structure the other themes hang from. The loneliness of

isolation is the beginning; love is the food that staves it

off and redemption is the final cleansing. Love is the

backbone of the novel, the thing that binds the others

together, redemption is its conclusion. There has to be love

or the characters would not be able to interact, if there

were only isolation each character’s tale would be a

separate piece of work. All good novels have a moral to

relate and involve love and redemption.

By Anne Gilmour.

All comments would be welcome as I am studying for exams.

Please Email me at


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