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Great Expectations

By xXCB54Xx Jan 08, 2014 2396 Words
From the kind and noble Joe, to the heart-breaking Estella, the idiosyncrasies that Dickens develops among his characters make them both enjoyable and memorable. Their personality, physical features, actions, and feelings all contribute to the lovable characters in Great Expectations. Estella, Miss Havisham, Wemmick, and Joe are produced from the many characteristics that make them pleasant and unforgettable. These characters are what makes this book so profound. They add to the excitement, suspense, care, and sadness of the story. The idiosyncrasies that Dickens gave these and the rest of the characters ensure that they will not be forgotten anytime soon.

The characteristics of Estella that Dickens creates is what makes her so memorable. Even though Pip describes her several times as beautiful, he later admits that is her only pleasing feature. When talking to Biddy about the daughter of Miss Havisham, Pip tells the reader, “I asked myself the question whether I did not surely know that if Estella were beside me at that moment instead of Biddy, she would make me miserable?” She was the gorgeous lady that every boy dreams of, but she was rude and unkind to him. Her personality made Pip not want to like her. This idiosyncrasy makes Estella very memorable, especially whenever Pip mentions her and expresses his love for her. Estella is a self-centered and disrespectful lady. Just after his first conversation with her and not even knowing her name, Pip describes as “…beautiful and self-possessed; and she was as scornful of me as if she had been one-and-twenty, and a queen.” She had no respect for Pip; she constantly referred to him as “boy.” She acted as if she were much greater than him, even though they were about the same age. She constantly mocked him and humiliated him in front of Miss Havisham by announcing things such as “He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy!” and “…what course hands he has! And what thick boots!” She did this while Pip was still in the room with them. She had absolutely no care for him whatsoever; she was only concerned that she was suffering because she had to play cards with him. Because the beautiful Estella is self-centered and disrespectful to those of a lower class, the reader will not be forgetting her anytime soon. Estella told him about how she feels about him when they were both much older. “You must know,” said Estella, “that I have no heart…I have no softness there, no—sympathy—sentiment—nonsense.” Pip has shown Estella several times before that he deeply cares for her, and she repays him by crushing his dreams. She doesn’t care about him. This lack of concern for the young boy adds to the description of Estella in the reader’s mind. Beauty being her only feature, her self-centeredness, and her extreme lack of care and concern all are idiosyncrasies that contribute to the image of Estella in the reader’s mind and prevent the reader from forgetting her, just as they don’t forget about the lady that adopted her.

The idiosyncrasies of Miss Havisham form a very unforgettable character. Because of what she has experienced, she holds a grudge against all men. We learn about Miss Havisham’s past from the pale young gentleman when he tells his dear Handel, Pip, of her devastating wedding day. He said, “The day came, but not the bridegroom.” Compeyson stood her up, and she has despised all men ever since. She uses her adopted daughter, Estella, to break the hearts of men, just as hers was broken. Miss Havisham would ask Pip concerning Estella, “Does she grow prettier and prettier, Pip?” She also commands Estella to “break their hearts, my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!” She has been hurt by a male. Her personality and instinct is to have an automatic hatred towards all men, and Pip is no exception. She uses Estella to make him fall in love so she can tear it away and make him miserable, just like she is. Her skill of holding grudges for extreme periods of time make her a memorable character. Her appearance adds to her image and further proves of the intensity of her grudges. At Pip’s first play date at Satis House, he described Miss Havisham in a very detailed way. When describing her, he said, “But I saw that everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its luster, and was faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes.” She is a dreary character, and she is wearing her bridal gown from her wedding day. She and the clothing have both quite noticeably aged, and the fact that she has not worn anything but her bridal dress since she received the letter from Compeyson ingrains in the reader’s mind of her long standing grudges. Pip’s vivid physical description of Miss Havisham also helps the reader understand what she looks like. These idiosyncrasies are also used as the basis for Miss Havisham’s lifestyle. She is living in the past and will not move on. At Pip’s first venture to Hiss Havisham’s, he tells the reader, “I took note of the surrounding objects in detail, and saw that her watch had stopped at twenty minutes to nine, and that a clock in the room had stopped at twenty minutes to nine.” That is the exact minute that she received the note from Compeyson explaining he was not coming. She has held on to the past and does not want to move on, so she has stopped all the clocks at this precise time. Pip also explains that “she had not quite finished dressing, for she had but one shoe on.” As the reader later discovers she was in the process of putting on her shoes when she was handed the letter. These actions of trying to freeze time shows a lot about Miss Havisham’s character and how she does not want to move on. This idiosyncrasy of the proposed benefactor makes her someone that the reader will not forget any time soon. The grudges she holds and her hatred against men, her bridal gown and physical appearance, and her attempt to stop time are idiosyncrasies that make Miss Havisham especially memorable.

Wemmick has several unique idiosyncrasies that make him memorable and very enjoyable. From Pip, the reader learns that Wemmick has a split personality. Regarding this when Pip asks him about it, Wemmick says, “The office is one thing, and private life is another.” Wemmick believes one should act professional at work and show no personality, but is free to act as they would like in their personal life. At his home, he is a generous and kind man, but when he and Pip were returning from Walworth, Pip said, “Wemmick got dryer and harder as we went along, and his mouth tightened into a post-office again.” This split personality of Wemmick’s office life and personal life make him very enjoyable when at Walworth, rather than a normal clerk working in an office. This idiosyncrasy makes him a memorable character that will not be forgotten. Wemmick is an emotionless clerk when around Jaggers. Pip describes in chapter 21 as “a dry man, rather short in stature, with a square wooden face, whose expression seemed to have been imperfectly chipped out with a dull-edged chisel.” Wemmick shows almost no emotion. He tries to stay as professional as possible at the office. He leaves his castle and the Aged Parent at Walworth, and develops a stone-cold personality on the walk back. He means very little to Pip at this stage and is only seen when Jaggers asks him to complete a task such as to “take Mr. Pip’s written order, and pay him twenty pounds.” He is not interested in any personal affairs when at the office. He only cares about getting his job done and portable property. While telling Pip the story of how he received the fowl that they would later eat, Wemmick said, “He said to that, ‘Let me make you a present of the best fowl in the shop.’ I let him of course. As far as it goes, it’s property and portable.” Wemmick collects many small valuable items as he believes they are more useful than large estates or furniture. He attempts to receive more portable property at every chance, especially if the property is from a convict that has been sentenced to death. This idiosyncrasy of Wemmick makes him a dismal character that the reader remembers and despises. This office personality would seem to have no emotion whatsoever, until Pip visits the castle and sees Wemmick is a very kind person that tries to make his dad as happy as possible. Wemmick’s qualities when he is at Walworth make him one of the most likeable characters in Dickens’s book. Wemmick tries his best to keep the Aged Parent as happy as can be. He is constantly nodding at the Aged Parent and tries to get others to do the same. Wemmick told Pip to “nod away at him, Mr. Pip; that’s what he likes.” The Aged Parent also loves to hear the sound of the cannon because it is one of the few things that he can actually hear. Wemmick is constantly trying to do service for others and trying to make others happy. He accomplishes this whenever he fires the Stinger and his father cries out, “He’s fired! I heerd him!” Wemmick’s kindness and hospitality is what makes him such a favored being throughout the book. Wemmick’s idiosyncrasies, his split personality, the professionalism he displays at work, and the kindness and service he displays at Walworth, make him a favored character throughout the story and ensure that his name will be remembered.

Another character whose idiosyncrasies make them both delightful and memorable is the blacksmith, Joe Gargery. Joe is a very kind, caring, and protecting man. Joe is always watching out for Pip, whether it be from the Tickler or from the ridicule of the adults at dinner. Pip shared a story of Joe protecting him from the Tickler and Mrs. Joe. He said, “My sister, Mrs. Joe, throwing the door wide open, and finding an obstruction behind it, immediately divined the cause, and applied Tickler to its further investigation. She concluded by throwing me—I often served as a connubial missile—at Joe, who, glad to get hold of me on any terms, passed me on into the chimney and quietly fenced me up there with his great leg.” Joe felt bad for Pip. The amount of care he had for Pip is tremendous. He is willing to stand up to his wife to keep Pip from being beaten. Joe’s bravery and concern lead to the protection of the young narrator several times. Without physically stepping in between the conflict, Joe also helped protect and comfort Pip during Christmas dinner with Mr. Wopsle, Uncle Pumblechook, and Mr. and Mrs. Hubble. Throughout the dinner, the adults relentlessly insulted and criticized Pip. Speaking of Joe, Pip said, “But he always aided and comforted me when he could, in some way of his own, and he always did so at dinnertime by giving me gravy, if there were any. There being plenty of gravy to-day, Joe spooned into my plate, at this point, about half a pint.” Joe pitied Pip and tried to relieve the pain without insulting his guests. Joe’s careful concern and protecting of Pip is one of the strongest idiosyncrasies Dickens develops among his characters. This mannerism of the respectful blacksmith turns him into one of the reader’s favorite characters. Even though Joe would do anything for Pip, when he visits Pip in London, the reader discovers the true personality of Mr. Gargery. After Pip asked to take Joe’s hat, Pip described him saying, “But Joe, taking it up carefully with both hands, like a bird’s-nest with eggs in it, wouldn’t hear of parting with that piece of property, and persisted in standing talking over it in a most uncomfortable way.” He is out of his comfort zone and tells Pip this by saying, “I’m wrong in these clothes. I’m wrong out of the forge, the kitchen, or off th’ meshes.” Joe realizes he is not meant to be a gentleman or even be around gentlemen. He likes where he is and is okay with it. He is not willing to change his life because he likes it and is comfortable in it. This idiosyncrasy of awkwardness among higher class people deepens the image of Joe and secures that he will not be forgotten anytime soon. Another portion of Joe’s personality that makes him amiable and unforgettable is his hard work. Not only does he constantly work at the forge, even late at night, as in the case of repairing the chains intended for the convicts, but he is constantly trying his best to succeed. When Pip was very ill, he told the reader, “Evidently Biddy had taught Joe to write.” Even after Pip had moved on to London and could no longer teach Joe how to write, Joe pursued this talent. He sought after a new teacher and worked very hard to gain this skill. From his hardworking personality and determination, Joe finally learned how to write. Joe’s hard work is one of the many idiosyncrasies that make him so enjoyable and pleasing. Joe’s protective instinct and care for Pip, his true personality, and his hardworking attitude are idiosyncrasies that make him a superlative character that will always be remembered.

The actions that these characters take, the words that they say, and the feelings that they have, all contribute to the excellence that these characters emit. The idiosyncrasies that Dickens furnished each one with makes them memorable and entertaining by creating an image of each character so realistic that it feels genuine. These attributes add to the story and enhance it at an enormous scale. These idiosyncrasies are what makes the characters in Great Expectations unforgettable.

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