GREAT Paradoxically, Miss Havershams greatest sin, is

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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 Haversham. 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.

Categories: Marriage


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