In Great Expectations, what is Miss Havisham's definition of love?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter XXIX of Great Expectations, Miss Havisham watches Pip as he delights in the sight of the newly formed Estella, now a young lady of some culture and esteem. When Pip makes a visit, Miss Havisham asks Pip, "How does she use you?" further urging Pip to "Love her, love her....! Taking Pip aside she directs him, 

“I'll tell you...what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the smiter—as I did!”

Further, Pip observes that Miss Havisham's use of the word love as she orders him to love Estella can be replaced with

....despair, revenge, dire, death, it could not have sounded from her lips more like a curse. 

These words and actions of Miss Havisham further the development of her as a character with little social morality, for she wishes to avenge herself on the male race and exploits Estella and Pip for this act. Many a time Pip has noticed Miss Havisham smiling when Estella has hurt his feelings, for she has brought up Estella to be cruel and cold toward the men.


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