Revenge in the Great Expectations

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NAME: TARYN LUU| DATE: NOVEMBER 13, 2012| COURSE: ENG4U9-A| TEACHER: K, VILCIUS Revenge is a primary theme in the novel Great Expectation by Charles Dickens. In this novel, many characters go out of their way to extract revenge, leading them to misfortunes such as death and imprisonment. Dickens makes it very clear that nothing positive can come from revenge through his characters and the results that come from their revenge. These acts range from petty resentment filled with passion, to long and drag out strife laced with malice, to lifelong vendettas driven by hatred.

Revenge comes in many forms—and for Orlick, his was the sort of petty resentment filled with passion, rather than stone cold hatred. In the novel, Orlick acts as the main antagonist; he is described as tardy, as Pip explained: “he was…never in hurry, and always slouching.” (102), and hostile, by telling Pip that “the Devil lived in a black corner of the forge…and it was necessary to make a fire once in seven years with a live boy and I might consider myself fuel.” (102). Orlick was also abusive due to his outburst at Mrs Gargery when she pose her opinion on the fact that Joe was letting both Pip and Orlick have a half-holiday by saying “I’d hold you, if you was my wife. I’d hold you under the pump and choke it out of you.” Despite being mere words, from that moment on; Orlick held a grudge on both Pip and Mrs Gargery. Orlick resented Mrs Gargery for her attitude towards him. And he resented Pip for having everything Orlick wanted; at the forge, Pip was favoured and Orlick was “bullied and beat.” In Orlick’s eyes Pip “was always in Old Orlick's way since ever you was a child.” (388) This tempts him into extracting revenge, by assaulting Mrs Gargery, he justifies his actions by telling Pip that “it was done through you,” (389) Orlick blames Pip for his misfortunes, and hates Pip to the extent that he attempted to murder him. Orlick says “I’m a going to have your life!” (388) this is an allegory—and has two meanings: one literal, and one figurative. Orlick literally wants to take Pip’s life, and kill him, depositing of his body so no one would ever know of his crime. However on the other hand, Orlick figuratively wants Pip’s life—his resentment of Pip comes from his jealousy. Orlick wishes to have Pip’s life, to be favoured, to be liked, to be a gentleman. But when his plans of killing Pip fails, and Orlick resorts to breaking into Pumblechook’s house, and robs and beats him, he is ultimately caught and imprisoned—this reveals the result of obtaining revenge, and how it will lead only to misfortunes. Nothing good can come from revenge as shown by Orlick’s eventual destination: prison. Like Orlick, Magwitch wishes to extract his revenge as well—which is a long dragged out strife between him and Compeyson. Magwitch loathes Compeyson for setting him up as a scrape goat in their trial. Because Compeyson looked like a gentleman he had a more lenient punishment than Magwitch—who faced most of the blame for both of their crimes. Due to this, Magwitch has sworn to “smash that face of his (Compeyson’s), and I swore Lord smash mine! To do it.” (322) Magwitch was willing to give up anything, and everything to get his revenge on Compeyson. He wanted Compeyson to face his wrath and feel his suffering; Magwitch was willing to give up his chance of freedom in doing so. He could’ve “got clear of these death-cold flats likewise—if I hadn’t made discovery that he was here.” (34) In the beginning of the novel, Pip meets the escaped convict—later introduced as Magwitch, who had filed down his leg iron to the point where he could’ve broken it off, and flee from the marshes—but when he had heard Compeyson had escaped as well, he gave up his freedom, to search for Compeyson. The guards, along with Pip and Joe later found Compeyson and Magwitch in a ditch—fighting each other. Magwitch gave up his chance to flee, and forsake his...
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