Great Expectations: Symbolism

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  • Topic: Great Expectations, Charles Dickens, Estella Havisham
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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Great Expectations: Symbolism

In life, symbolism is present all around us. Whether it is in the clothes we wear, the things we do, or what we buy, everything has a meaning. Symbolism is also present in literature and it is shown in Charles Dickens Great Expectations. The symbols of isolation, manipulation, the tragic hero, and wanting to be someone else are seen throughout the book through the characters of Estella, Magwitch, Miss Havisham, and Pip.

The character of Estella represents the symbols of isolation and manipulation. By acting as an adult when she was still young, she separated herself from Pip and others. This was due in large part to the way Miss Havisham, her stepmother, raised her. She had no emotion, as Miss Havisham used her for revenge on men. On his first visit to the Satis House, Pip overheard Miss Havisham tell Estella "Well? You can break his heart." [65]. By doing what Miss Havisham tells her to, she shows she is just as heartless as her stepmother. She also represents manipulation in how she played with Pip's feelings, who has strong feelings for her eventhough he also cannot stand her. She tells Pip "Come here! You may kiss me if you like." [102]. Although the kiss may have meant a lot to Pip, it did not mean anything to Estella as she was just playing with Pip's emotions.

The character of Magwitch represents the symbols of isolation and the tragic hero. In this case, he was physically isolated from society because he was a convict and was looked upon with disgust. When Magwitch confesses and apologizes to Joe for stealing the food, Joe replies "poor miserable fellow creatur." [43]. Magwitch also illustrates the symbol of the tragic hero. Throughout most of the book, Magwitch is looked down upon by Pip. Magwitch talks about his gratitude for Pip when he helped him as a convict many years ago. "You acted noble, my boy," said he. [356]. "Noble Pip! And I have never forgot it!" [356]. He shows why he is a hero when he explains to...
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