How does Dickens create sympathy for Pip, Estella and Miss Havisham?  

lit24 | Student

1. Pip: As a small boy Pip is physically abused by his sister and the other adults like Mr.Pumblechook. The scenes where he is beaten with 'tickler' by his sister and the scene in ch.9 when Pumblechook smashes Pip's head against the wall arouse the sympathy of the readers:

"Whitewash on the forehead hardens the brain into a state of obstinacy perhaps."

Later towards the end of the novel, when we see the mature Pip who has been cured of all his pride foolish dreams and ambitions, once again we sympathise with the now penitent Pip:

"I sold all I had ...... perhaps the inaptitude had never been in him at all, but had been in me." [the end of Ch.58].

2. Miss Havisham: Dickens makes the readers sympathise with Miss Havisham after she realises her mistake and repents of destroying Pip's happiness in Ch.49 and makes a sincere effort to prove her repentance by writing out a cheque for nine hundred pounds as seed capital for Herbert's business venture:

" 'I want' she said 'to pursue that subject you mentioned to me when you were last here and to show you that I am not all stone."

A little later she is filled with deep remorse for fooling Pip into believing that Estella was meant for him and keeps on repeating, "what have I done! What have I done!" and implicitly begs his forgiveness.

3. Estella: Dickens arouses our sympathy for Estella by making it clear that she is only an instrument in the hands of Miss Havisham. In Ch.33 Estella narrates in graphic detail how she was abused by Miss Havisham who had adopted her when she was a small child:

"You had not your little wits sharpened by their intriguing against you, suppressed and defenceless, under the mask of sympathy and pity and what not that is soft and soothing.-I had. You did not  gradually open your round childish eyes wider and wider to the discovery of that impostor of a woman who calculated her stores of peace of mind for when she wakes up in the night.-I did".

Finally, in Ch.59 we sympathise with Estella when we read of her unhappy marriage to Bentley Drummle and how cruelly he abused her and his subsequent death:

"I had heard of her leading a most unhappy life, and as being separated from her husband, who had used her with great cruelty,...And I had heard of the death of her husband, from an accident consequent on his ill-treatment of a horse."


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Great Expectations

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