Great Expectations Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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What are the lessons can you find in Great Expectations and apply to our lives today? What does the story teach us about kindness?

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The lesson of Great Expectations is that kindness is the highest virtue. People show they are true ladies or gentlemen to the extent they exhibit kindness and mercy.

Joe and Biddy are the great example of this, especially Joe. He is a humble village blacksmith, but he is unwavering in his kindness and loyalty to Pip. Joe treats him with gentleness and respect when he is a child, a contrast to the other adults around him. Later, Pip experiences a period of snobbery when he is raised in social status and wealth to live as a gentleman. He becomes ashamed of Joe for his working-class ways and tries to avoid him. Nevertheless, Joe never gives up on Pip and is there for him in his hour of need. As Pip matures, he becomes deeply ashamed of his former snobbery and develops a new awareness that value resides in a person's heart and character, not their wealth or outward appearance.

Estella and Miss Havisham are the flip-side of this moral equation. In her pain and grief, Miss Havisham tries to get revenge on men by raising Estella to be snobbish, heartless, and unkind. Later, Miss Havisham is deeply grieved that Estella can't love her, especially when Estella explains that this is because Miss Havisham has raised her to be cold and unloving. What goes around comes around, be it Joe's kindness and generosity or Miss Havisham's warped, pained soul which leaves her unloved by the person she cares about most in the world.

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