Compare and contrast Pip and Estella in Great Expectations.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a really interesting question to consider. You might want to think about Chapter Eight, which is our first introduction to Estella, as a good passage to compare both of these characters. Let us remember that in this chapter Estella begins the process of "beggaring" Pip which she carries on until the end of the novel. She is proud, beautiful, contemptuous and somebody who delights in taunting Pip because of his low birth and common nature. Consider the following quote as an example of this:

She put the mug down on the stones of the yard, and gave me the bread and meat without looking at me, as insolently as if I were a dog in disgrace. I was so humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended, angry, sorry--I cannot hit upon the right name for the smart--God knows what its name was--that tears started to my eyes.

The moment that Pip begins to cry he records that Estella looked at his tears with "delight in having been the cause of them." Estella is presented as a cruel female who delights in torturing males and gaining power over them. This is of course in massive contrast to Pip and his innocence, naivety and basic goodness.

However, there is one massive similarity between Pip and Estella that unites them together in spite of these differences. Both are (supposedly) orphans who are brought up by other parental figures in their life and are abused and damaged as a result. Just as Miss Havisham brings Estella up to not be able to love, so Pip is corrupted by the great expectations that his substitute father, Magwitch, supplies him with. Both Miss Havisham and Magwitch "adopt" Estella and Pip for their own selfish reasons.


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