Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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What are the expectations of the characters Pip, Magwitch, and Miss Havisham?

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Pip wishes to become a gentleman, aspiring to improve himself in order to feel worthy of Estella. He must be educated to reach his status as a gentleman. Pip also wants to be a moral and thoughtful person, and this leads him to eventually understand  how his improvements can affect others negatively.

Estella wants to be accepted by the upper class in society. She feels shame for the circumstances of her birth. She gradually changes throughout the novel and begins to understand that feelings and emotions must be expressed.

Miss Havisham's expectation involves making all men pay for Compeyson's cruelty in leaving her. She plans to do this through Estella, training her to be as cruel and heartless as she thinks her former fiance was to Miss Havisham. She does repent, however, at the end and asks Pip to forgive her.

Magwitch wants to become wealthy and embarks on his own journey of self-improvement. In this way, he can help Pip achieve his own desire to be a gentleman. Pip changes Magwitch through his kindness to Magwitch in the beginning of the novel. In the end, Magwitch is arrested and accepts responsibility for and the effects of his actions.

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