Explain how the characters of Joe, Pip, Estella, and Miss Havisham are victims in Great Expectations.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miss Havisham was the original victim.  Like many abusers, she based her abuse onto those in her control.

Miss Havisham was jilted on her wedding day.  This had a profound effect on her.  The conman, Compeyson, led her on and made her think he was going to marry her when he really only wanted her money.  What made his betrayal worse was that his partner was her brother.

Miss Havisham took in Estella, and immediately began molding her as a weapon to be used against men.  She taught her to be cold and unfeeling, and victimize others.  However, Estella never had a say in the matter and she was a victim of Miss Havisham’s grief.  Estella knows this.

“You should know,” said Estella. “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, enotes etext p. 206).

Pip is also a victim of Miss Havisham.  She arranges to take him in as a toy to teach Estella how to treat men.  She lets him assume that she is his benefactor and he is being molded to marry Estella.  Instead, she is molding him to have a broken heart.


winter567 | Student

Under a more general approach,all of the characters in the novel are considered to be victims of the industrial society and of social stereotypes.

Materialism and money dominate people's lives (Victorian values) . People have become victims of the calculated social crime and they try to adapt by changing their values. People are treated as things and, especially, as things (machines) used to make profit.

What is more, children (Pip) are victims of the adults.

In particular, Pip is the victim of Mrs. Joe, Miss Havisham, Estella and even of Magwitch, who "uses" him as a means of revenge toward Compeyson. Also, Pip is the victim of his own fate (born an orphan) and, finally, the victim of his own great expectations.-


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Great Expectations

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