How does Dickens present the emotion of love in Great Expectations?

Expert Answers
Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dickens presents two different kinds of love in Great Expectations: romantic love and friendship love. Through Pip’s infatuation with Estella, Dickens examines the nature of this romantic love. Is it true love, or is it shallow love? Pip falls for Estella in the midst of her contempt of him. Despite the fact that she is less than kind, Pip sets his hopes on eventually marrying her. It is basically a love-hate relationship, until Pip learns that Miss Havisham is not his benefactor, nor is she training him to be an acceptable mate for Estella. He gives up all hope when he rejects Magwitch’s money, but he still holds out some feelings for Estella. In the final chapter, when the two of them meet after being separated for some years, there is a hint that Pip falls in love with this new Estella, who has dropped her contempt and her arrogance, making her worthy of the hero’s love.

Pip’s friendship with Joe also shows a tortured path. The two of them are close companions, until Pip takes up the role of gentleman and feels ashamed of Joe’s coarseness. However, like his relationship with Estella, Pip learns the true worth of Joe, reclaiming their friendship once Pip discovers the nature of what it is to be a gentleman. In a sense, Pip has to learn what Estella did, to get over an inflated opinion in order to find a genuine relationship with someone else.

Read the study guide:
Great Expectations

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question