Use evidence and reasoning to describe two characters from Great Expectations that are lonely and humiliated.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator


Indubitably, young Pip is a lonely boy. As the novel opens, he stands in the graveyard looking at the tombstones of his deceased parents. His sister beats him with "Tickler" and only Joe is kind to him. When he is summoned to go and play with the young ward of Miss Havisham, he is treated cruelly by Estella and punched by the pale young gentleman later on.

After he climbs the stairs with Estella and is ordered to play, Pip feels very lonely. Moreover, when Estella complains of being made to play with this "common laboring boy," Pip  feels humiliated after being deprecated in this way and for Estella's ridicule of his being also coarse. Later, he is made to wait in the yard before Estella

...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, that tears started to my eyes.


Mr. Wopsle

Early in the narrative, little Pip attends school with Biddy at Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt's school. There, Mr. Wopsle attempts to read Marc Antony's funeral oration and he examines the "scholars." In Chapter XXXIII, Pip and Herbert go to a theater in London to see Mr. Wopsle perform Hamlet, where he first appears silly with his stockings awry. Then, he recites his lines and the audience laughs.

When he  [an audience member] recommended the player not to saw the air thus, the sulky man said, “And don't you do it, neither; you're a deal worse than him!” And I grieve to add that peals of laughter greeted Mr. Wopsle on every one of these occasions....

We had made some pale efforts in the beginning to applaud Mr. Wopsle; but they were too hopeless to be persisted in.

With the audience heckling him, poor Mr. Wosple, having come to London all alone, is humiliated, to say the least.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems to me that Miss Havisham is an excellent example of a character in Great Expectations who is both "lonely" and "humiliated." She spends most of her time alone in her room staring at the fire or staring into empty space. She doesn't even appear to have any interests such as reading. She adopted Estella in the hope of relieving her loneliness, but Estella only spends a little time with her during the day and evening. Estella is too young, too sprightly, and too selfish to put up with her foster mother for long periods at a time. Miss Havisham evidently invited Pip to come and visit for the same reason she adopted Estella. The old maid is visited once a year by her greedy, hypocritical relatives, but their visit isn't much of a pleasure either for them or for her. She sees Mr. Jaggers on rare occasions on business.

As far as being "humiliated," she was dreadfully humiliated when her bridegroom failed to show up for the wedding. She had prepared everything for that occasion, including the ragged wedding gown she wears. She may not have experienced other humiliating events since that memorable day when she was so cruelly jilted, but she continues to live with that one great humiliation every day of her life. Her humiliation provides her motivation for bringing Estella up to be a heartless young woman who will hopefully provide Miss Havisham's revenge on men by making many males, including Pip, very unhappy.

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Great Expectations

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