How do you suppose Dickens would define "true love"?What kind of love do EACH of the following characters display toward others: Mrs. Joe Joe Pip Miss Havisham Estella Magwitch Herbert

1 Answer | Add Yours

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Dickens had a complex view of love.  His earlier works demonstrate a certain naïve hopefulness.  By the time he wrote Great Expectations, it could best be described as bitterness.

The main relationship is between the beautiful Estella and Pip, the protagonist.  She is beautiful, but she is cold.  She is also unreachable.  This is Dickens telling us that love is cruel and an illusion.  Estella does seem to care for Pip to a certain extent, but she assures him she cannot love because she has no heart.  Miss Havisham has made her empty.

There is no love at all between Mrs. Joe and Joe.  Joe seems to appreciate and tolerate her, and she is almost as abusive to him as she is Pip.  She treats her brother, Pip, like a mistake.  If she loves either of them it is from obligation.  Joe loves both Pip and Mrs. Joe, out of loyalty.

Miss Havisham does have feelings for Estella, but in a twisted way.  She is an example of Dickens’s view of love as manipulation.  She was jilted, and therefore hates men and wants revenge against as many as possible.  She uses Estella as a tool, and while she appears to cherish her and spoil her, she is just a means to an end.

Magwitch loves Pip with the purity of a father figure.  He also would have likely been an affectionate father to Estella or wife to Molly.  We can never know, because when he was separated from them he focused his efforts on Pip.  Pip was one he could reach, the others were too far removed.

Herbert has a practical attitude toward love.  He is in love with Clara, and he waits until he can get a job to support her before he marries her.  He is both a romantic, the only one with pure romantic love, and a realist, because he does not act on that love until he is financially sound.  This is an interesting commentary by Dickens.  Love may not be enough.  A young couple struggling financially may not make it.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,959 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question