How does Pip discover Miss Havisham's use of Estella in Chapter 38 of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens?

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ajmchugh | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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In Chapter 38 of Great Expectations, Pip is witness to a fight between Estella and Miss Havisham which begins with Estella gradually beginning to "detach herself" from Miss Havisham's arm and ends with Miss Havisham fainting.  During this fight, Pip watches as Miss Havisham accuses Estella of being "cold," and Estella responds by saying, "I am what you have made me." 

Essentially, Miss Havisham realizes that she raised Estella to be incapable of loving others (the goal was to prevent her from loving men) so that she would not be hurt in the same way Miss Havisham was.  However, Miss Havisham never anticipated that Estella would show her learned unkindness to Miss Havisham herself, as this behavior is an ingrained part of Estella's personality. 

With regard to your question concerning Pip's discovery of Miss Havisham's "use of Estella," this discovery occurs earlier in the novel.  Specifically, Herbert Pocket, a relative of Miss Havisham, tells Pip in Chapter 22 that Estella  was adopted by Miss Havisham and "has been brought up by Miss Havisham to wreak revenge on all the male sex." 

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