Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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What is the relationship between Estella and Miss Havisham in Great Expectations?

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Miss Havisham and Estella illustrate the extent to which we do to others what was done to us. Miss Havisham was cruelly tricked on her wedding day by her brother in revenge for his being disinherited (which was not Miss Havisham's fault), and this sadistic act results in her looking for revenge on the entire male sex. She raises her beautiful adopted daughter, Estella, to be cold and to break male hearts. Pip thinks Miss Havisham invites him to her house to play with Estella because she wants them to marry eventually—just as he thinks the money that brings him his "great expectations" comes from her. Of course, the money comes from elsewhere, and Miss Havisham wants Estella to break Pip's heart. 

Estella is obedient. She grows up in the image of her adopted mother, cold and selfish, and she ends up spurning Miss Havisham coldly. When this distresses Miss Havisham, Estella tells her that it was she, Miss Havisham, who made her what she is.

Dickens, who especially loved generous, big-hearted characters and saw the redemption of society in the way their gestures would ripple outward to influence others, makes a point that it is cruel to raise a person to spread misery in the world rather than joy. We reap what we sow, Dickens shows,...

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