In Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, how does Pip react to driving by the prison with Estella? What does Pip's reaction indicate about his image of Estella as a person?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In order to get better answers, you should tell us whatever you can about where in the book you think the answer is.  I am assuming you are talking about the part in Chapter 33 where Pip and Estella happen to be driving by Newgate Prison.  Pip has just been there the day before.

When she asks Pip what that place is, he pretends at first not to know.  In my opinion, this shows that he still places Estella on a pedestal.  He thinks that she is too good and too delicate to even have to think about such things as prisons.

You can see this attitude of his in this quote from the end of Chapter 32:

I thought of the beautiful young Estella, proud and refined, coming towards me, and I thought with absolute abhorrence of the contrast between the jail and her.

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mrshh | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Pip and Estella have tea together.  She informs him that she is going to Richmond to reside with a socially influential lady.  Estella allows Pip to kiss her cheek, but she still treats him with an attitude of distance.  This is not a deterrent to him.  His admiration of her does not falter.

Pip accompanies Estella in a coach to Richmond on the way to her new home.  The coach drives through Cheapside in London and passes by the walls of the Newgate Prison.  Pip knows this place well, but he does not want to share that fact with Estella.  She asks him about the place.  At first, he pretends not to know anything.  When he does tell her that it is a prison, she "[draws] in her head again, murmuring, 'Wretches!'"  Estella has no sympathy for the prisoners at Newgate, and her attitude causes Pip to hide that he visited there.  He is ashamed to tell her.  Pip greatly admires Estella.  He wants to hide aspects of his life that she will disapprove of.  Pip sees Estella as being better than him, which is why he constantly strives to better himself and impress her.

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