Great Expectations- Character Analysis

Topics: Great Expectations, Estella Havisham, Miss Havisham Pages: 24 (10305 words) Published: November 12, 2000
Estella Havisham:
Most readers are appalled at the cold-hearted and cruel ways of Estella, but any criticism directed at her is largely undeserved. She was simply raised in a controlled environment where she was, in essence, brainwashed by Miss Havisham. Nonetheless, her demeanor might lead one to suspect that she was a girl with a heart of ice. Estella is scornful from the moment she is introduced, when she remarks on Pip's coarse hands and thick boots. However, her beauty soon captivates Pip and she is instilled as the focal point of his thoughts for much of the remainder of the novel. The fact that Pip becomes infatuated with her is also not Estella's fault. By no means is there any evidence that she loved him. She does not flirt with him in any way. Rather, she tortures Pip with her cruel treatment. Despite her abhorrent quality, Estella is extremely candid; because she seems to have no need for affection, she is able to tell things as she sees them without a thought of what someone else may think. This is in contrast to Pip's obsession of his every action being approved by Miss Havisham and Estella. Estella is also quite intelligent. She is very aware of the manner in which Miss Havisham raised her. She tells Miss Havisham, "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." (Chapter 38). Finally, by the end of the novel, Estella has changed. Through her marriage with Bentley Drummle, she has suffered to learn some valuable life lessons that have transformed her character. Pip remarks on the stark reversal of the once hard Estella, "...what I had never seen before, was the saddened softened light of the once proud eyes; what I had never felt before, was the friendly touch of the once insensible hand." (Chapter 59). Joe Gargery:

Joe is the only one of Dickens' characters who stands opposed to and apart from the main current of action. He stays away from London, for the most part, and only intervenes when needed. He is always present in Pip's mind, and tends to remind both Pip and the reader of those values in Pip that were crushed during the evolution of his expectations. Joe is an honest and industrious fellow, although he sometimes comes across as foolish to other characters in the novel. He is also a generous and forgiving man, which is illustrated by his reaction to having some food taken from his house by the convict. Joe tells the convict that he was welcome to it, since it kept the convict from starving. Joe is also the only character in the novel with no real property. All that he counts as his own are his tools; all else, in Joe's mind, belongs to Mrs. Joe. His freedom from material goods and the desire for them sets him apart from the "gentlemen" like Pumblechook in the novel. Joe was a child of an abusive family; his father was a drunkard and beat Joe and his mother. The epitaph that Joe composes for his father reveals the extent of his forgiving nature. The same epitaph, "Whatsum-er the failings on his part, Remember, reader, he were that good in his hart," applies to Pip, as well, as he finishes his adventures. Joe is far more significant than the virtuous and kindly blacksmith he appears to be. Dickens refers to him as "holy", and the cottage has an air of "sanctity" for Pip. Joe is opposed to all false values, and does not present his view in bombastic speeches, but rather within himself and in his convictions. Joe also rejects the importance of property, pretty speech, and manners. Joe is also a very honorable and dignified man, which is sensed immediately by Miss Havisham. His understanding of peopleand his sensitivity allows him to sense intuitively whether he is wanted by Pip or is merely making him uncomfortable. The fire of Joe's forge is the light of the innate goodness of man, and a light of hope amidst the false lights of the world that Dickens presents in Great Expectations.

Phillip Pirip (Pip):
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