Literary Analysis of Great Expectations

Essay add: 30-09-2015, 12:50   /   Views: 219
Literary Analysis of Great Expectations

Great Expectations is just one of the novels that Charles Dickens wrote in his lifetime. Throughout the novel, many of the younger characters have goals that they would like to achieve in life, but they don’t know how to accomplish them. Estella being adopted at a young age by Ms. Havisham is corrupted to such a state that her objective in life is to break the hearts of all the men with whom she comes in contact. This is where we see the emergence of a cold-hearted, but beautiful young lady. Then there is Magwitch, who is a convict that Pip meets out in the marshes. Secretly, he becomes Pip’s benefactor in appreciation for what Pip has done for him. Pip now has a chance to become gentlemen, something that Magwitch could never become. During Pip’s stay in London where he is slowly immersed into a more glamorous lifestyle, he meets Herbert. Secretly, he then becomes Herbert’s benefactor wanting to help his friend out. All three of these characters are supported with great sums of money and as easily as it was given to them, it can be taken away anytime. Their future lies in the hands of their benefactors. They are merely puppets to achieve vicariously what their parents wanted to have achieved.

In the first part of the book, Ms. Havisham and Estella are introduced. Estella is first seen as a beautiful young girl, with whom Pip falls madly in love. She is adopted at a young age because Ms. Havisham wanted a child to mould in her image. Estella’s one purpose in life is to break the hearts of all men because Ms. Havisham was stood up on her wedding day and since then has had a grudge against the male sex. Sometimes Ms. Havisham would whisper into Estella’s ear, “Break their hearts, my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!” (Pg. 88) All of this treatment over the years takes a toll on Estella and becomes more evident when she matures into a lady. Ironically, Estella and Pip meet in London where they acquaint themselves again. The only reason that Pip wanted to become a gentleman was to win Estella’s heart. All throughout the novel Estella gives Pip warnings that she can never love him because of the way she was raised. Blindly, Pip continues his hopes of marrying Estella. Ms. Havisham receives a great surprise when Estella starts to turn on her. She says, “ I am what you have made me. Take all the praise, take all the blame; take all the success, take all the failure; in short, take me.” (Pg. 284) This truly shows how cold-hearted Estella has become even to her benefactor. Estella then gives her an example saying,
If you had brought up your adopted daughter wholly in the dark confinement of these rooms, and had never let her know that there was such a thing as the daylight by which she has never once seen you face-if you have done that, and then, for a purpose, had wanted her to understand the daylight and know all about it, you would have been disappointed and angry? (Pg. 285)

She is telling Ms. Havisham that she is incapable of showing even her any love because she never had the chance to learn it. Finally, Ms. Havisham’s dream comes true when Pip learns that Estella is going to marry Drummle. After hearing this information Pip breaks out into tears. Ms. Havisham then realizes her mistake with Pip and Estella. Then she starts to feel guilty. The boy she has grown so fond of now has a broken heart and her adopted daughter does not love her.

Christian D’Abel Magwitch is one of the more interesting characters in this novel. Surprisingly, he becomes Pip’s benefactor and helps Pip become a gentleman. Pip’s first meeting with Magwitch turns out to be very awkward. During this meeting Pip learns the truth about his great fortune. Throughout most of the story Pip thought that Ms. Havisham was his benefactor. Ever since Magwitch was arrested and deported out of the country, he has been working and saving up his money in order to repay Pip for helping him. When Magwitch gets settled down he looks at Pip and says, “and this is the gentlemen what I made! The real genuine one!” (Pg. 307) This shows how Magwitch has created Pip into something that he could never become and now he is looking at what his money bought him. Magwitch says, “I’ve come to the old country fur to see my gentlemen spend his money like a gentlemen.” (Pg. 307) Also, Magwitch asks Pip to read foreign languages to him. Magwitch in a sense created Pip and what he has become. Pip becomes Magwitch’s son in a way. Ironically, just before Magwitch’s death he learns that Estella is his daughter. Now he can die with ease knowing that he has two children with bright futures ahead. Without Magwitch’s support Pip would have become a blacksmith and lived a dismal life. His life would be totally different from the one that he has grown accustomed to in London. Everything that Pip buys is with Magwitch’s money. Pip never earned anything that he received and this made him feel guilty. He then tries to redeem himself through one of his friends.

The relationship between Pip and Herbert Pocket become very evident in the story. Herbert is the son of Mathew Pocket, the man who tutors Pip in London. Also, he becomes Pip’s roommate. When Pip first meets Herbert, he sees a very proud person with a great dream. Unfortunately, Pip does not believe Herbert could ever achieve this dream. Herbert lacked the initiative. Once Pip becomes comfortable with his new lifestyle, he begins to spend a lot of money and eventually goes into debt. Herbert follows in Pip’s footsteps and also goes into debt. Pip then feels responsible for this and begins to secretly finance Herbert. This allows him to slowly work his way into a partnership with a shipping merchant named Clarriker. When Herbert tells Pip of his great fortune, Pip goes to his bedroom and cries, “to think that / his / expectations had done some good to somebody.” (Pg.279) Unfortunately when Magwitch gets caught, Pip has no way of supporting Herbert anymore. Quickly, Pip makes his way to Ms. Havisham and asks her for nine hundred pounds. When she asks him “Can I only serve you, Pip, by serving your friend? Regarding that as done, is there nothing I can do for you yourself?” (Pg.369) Pip replies by saying, “Nothing. I thank you for the question.” (Pg.369) Even though Pip’s financial state is very bad, he only asks Ms. Havisham for money to help Herbert. Pip is not worried about himself and what happens to him. Also, when Herbert finally becomes a joint partner with Clarriker and is forced to move to Cairo because of the business, he asks Pip to come with him and to become a clerk. Pip’s feels touched and happy knowing that his friend achieved the one goal that eluded him throughout his life. Herbert is happily married and makes a steady income. Without Pip’s help, Herbert probably would have never done anything with his life. Pip’s dream comes true through Herbert.

In conclusion, all three of the characters that had benefactors in the novel had their lives controlled to a certain extent. Ms. Havisham adopted Estella and raised her to be cold-hearted towards the male sex. Ironically, Estella turns on her near the end of the novel. Christian D’Abel Magwitch becomes Pip’s secret benefactor and aids him in becoming a gentleman. Pip then becomes Herbert’s secret benefactor trying to fulfill his dream through Herbert, which he accomplishes. The children were indeed puppets to achieve vicariously what their parents wanted to have achieved.

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