How do the authors present and develop complicated relationships in Great Expectations and Romeo and Juliet?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Most works of literature are concerned with the human experience, and, as such, there are always complicated relationships involved such as male/female love relations, parent/child relations, social class conflicts, racial and ethnic conflicts, religious conflicts, political conflicts, and so on. Here are some complicated relationships found in the works concerned:

Great Expectations

  • Class conflicts

When Pip goes first to Satis House to play with Estella, he is made aware of his being "common and course" as Estella ridicules him and the "pale white gentleman" boxes him. Feeling inferior, Pip vows to become a gentleman once he attains the opportunity to go to London thanks to an unknown benefactor.

  • Love complications

Rejected at the altar, Miss Havisham stops all the clocks in her home and arrests her life by remaining in her bridal gown with one shoe off. She teaches Estella to be cruel to males so that she can wreak vengeance upon the male gender.

Pip falls in love with Estella, but his love is unrequited since Estella has been made to "have no heart." Nevertheless, Pip believes that if he becomes a gentleman, she will fall in love with him.

  • Personal relationships 

Pip is exploited by Miss Havisham, used to teach Estella how to be cruel to men. Even knowing that Pip loves Estella does not deter Miss Havisham from her path of revenge upon the male sex. However, once she perceives the damage that she has done to both Estella and Pip, she begs Pip to forgive her and write on a paper "I forgive you'" she asks Pip.

Pip and Herbert in London do not manage their allowances and get into debt. In order to assist Herbert, who wishes to marry, Pip goes to Miss Havisham and asks her for financial help for his friend.

  • Family relationships

In his desire to be a gentleman, Pip rejects Joe because the illiterate and "common" man is an embarrassment to him in his desire to be a gentleman. Fortunately, Pip later realizes that Joe is a true friend and sincerely good man.

Romeo and Juliet

  • Family Feuds

The Montagues and the Capulets have long harbored hatred for each other and their prohibiting of relationships among members of these two families results in the conflicts of the tragedy.

Certainly, Mercutio's death and Romeo's banishment would not have occurred if it were not for the hatred between the two families.

  • Age/Youth Conflicts

Juliet conflicts with her parents regarding a proposed marriage to Paris. Later, after she has secretly married Romeo, she conflicts with her father and, consequently, rushes to Friar Laurence, who gives her the vial that makes her seem dead, a condition which leads to tragedy.

Romeo also has problems with adults such as Friar Laurence, who urges him to not rush into things with Juliet: "These violent delights have violent ends," he cautions Romeo.

  • Love relationships

When they first become infatuated with each other, Juliet cautions Romeo to not be rash, but he is insistent and leads her to act more quickly that she would normally.                                                                           

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Great Expectations

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