Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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How did Estella defend her position in humoring Bentley Drummle in Great Expectations?

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Estella is accosted by both Pip and Miss Havisham in her choice to marry Bentley Drummle.  Her response to each of them is that they do not have a claim to lay to her heart. 

Pip hates Drummle, whom he considers a boorish dolt.  When he finds out Drummle knows Estella, he is angry.  He is even angrier when he realizes that Estella is leading Drummle on.

When he finds out later that she is going to marry him, he is shocked.  He blames Miss Havisham, but she says it is her own act.  This turns out to be true, for Miss Havisham is just as annoyed. 

“I have never forgotten your wrongs and their causes. I have never been unfaithful to you or your schooling. I have never shown any weakness that I can charge myself with.” (ch 38, p. 207)

Miss Havisham is frustrated because Estella does not seem to love her, when Estella points out that she has made her the way she is, and can’t reproach her for it.

Pip is aware that Drummle had “held on, in a dull persistent way, and Estella held him on” (ch 38, p. 210).  He is horrified.  He cannot imagine how she can marry him.

When Pip confronts her, Estella scoffs it off.  She compares Drummle to a moth and herself to a candle.

“Moths, and all sorts of ugly creatures,” replied Estella, with a glance towards him, “hover about a lighted candle. Can the candle help it?” (ch 38, p. 210)

Pip asks Estella if she intends to “deceive and entrap him” and she replies that she does.  Pip thinks about how Miss Havisham’s influence might be difficult to undo.  Estella says she won’t be “a blessing” to Drummle, and says Pip will soon forget her.  She married him because he was indifferent to her.

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