Describe Pip's interest in Estella in Charles Dickens's novel Great Expectations.

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Pip's interest in Estella, which begins when he is quite young, and is actively fostered by Miss Havisham as part of her revenge against the male race, is probably best described as an infatuation that will not stand the test of time as he grows and changes.  Pip begins the novel as a seven year old orphan who has already absorbed some unhappy lessons in how unjust the world can be, and who puts himself at risk to help feed a hungry criminal; he ends the novel as a gentleman whose education, wealth and standing in society were financed by this same criminal, who went to Australia and made a fortune as a sheep farmer.  In between the "old" Pip, who, though young, was a person of kindness, and the "final" Pip, who had come full circle in terms of character and morality, was the Pip who fell for Estella.  Estella was a cruel, shallow, superficial young woman, but during these years, as he was becoming a gentleman, Pip did not have the maturity or strength of character to notice this, or if he did, to care.  Indeed, convinced that the financing of his expectations is Miss Havisham, and that he has been chosen as a suitor for Estella, he often slips into behavior not unlike Estella's, almost like he is trying to become more like her and her world.  There are times he is dishonest, and he also finds, early on, the presence of his kind brother-in-law, Joe Gargery, to be an embarrassment.

At the novel's original ending, the mature Pip who has developed character and a sense of obligation to do what is morally right, parts ways with Estella, which seems like the ending most in character with the extensive changes his character has undergone.  It is difficult to imagine the Pip who ends the novel ever being happy with someone like Estella, although Dickens later rewrote the ending to suggest that at some point the two might get together. 



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