What are Estella Havisham's dreams, visions, and philosphy?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Having been taught from an early age to be cold-hearted and cruel, Estella has never learned to care about what happens to any one--not even to herself.  As such, Estella is rather a tragic figure; she has simply been manipulated by Miss Havisham to wreak her vengeance upon the male gender.  But, by generating such a cold, brutal nature in Estella, Miss Havisham has fostered a young woman who has little or no feelings.

Without the human feelings of love for others, there is little that Estella aspires to other than becoming a lady since meaning in one's life depends upon sharing emotions.  She cannot respond to the love of Pip and only identifies with Bentley Drummle because he, too, is cruel.  Always candid and honest, Estella tells Miss Havisham that she cannot love her because Miss Havisham has taught her not to love, but to be cruel and to have a "self-possessed indifference": 

 "You should know...I am what you have made me.....Who taught me to be hard?....Who praised me when I learned my lesson?"

Having been "made" by Miss Havisham, Estella meets Pip years later and is "bent and broken" by her marriage to the brutish Drummle.  She does tell Pip that she has thought of him, but says honestly again that they "will continue friends apart."

In the revised ending of Great Expectations, Estella indicates that she has learned from her suffering and Pip feels the assurance "that suffering...had given her a heart to understand what my heart used to be."

lit24 | Student

In Ch.29, Estella tells Pip, "I have no heart." She is only an instrument of revenge who functions almost like a robot under the control of Miss Havisham.  In Ch.33 Estella tells Pip,

For you were not brought up in that strange house from a mere baby. -- I was. 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 calculates her stores of peace of mind for when she wakes up in the night. -- I did.'

It is in Ch. 38 that Estella quarrels with her mentor Miss Havisham and attempts to establish her own individuality. But unfortunately the damage has already been done. She has been under the complete control of Miss Havisham for such a long time that she has been completely transformed into  a cold, unfeeling monster as she herself acknowledges:

I have never forgotten your wrongs and their causes. I have never been unfaithful to you or your schooling. I have never shown any weakness that I can charge myself with.'

Finally, in Ch. 44 she confesses to Pip that she is going to get married to Bentley Drummle and when Pip does his best to dissuade her from doing so she remarks:

It is in my nature,' she returned. And then she added, with a stress upon the words, `It is in the nature formed within me

As such, Estella is a young woman without any dreams or visions who unfortunately has been corrupted by the upbringing of the vengeful Miss Havisham.

Read the study guide:
Great Expectations

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question