What are three different character traits of Estella in Great Expectations?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Estella is proud, scornful, and cold.

Estella is the adopted daughter of Miss Havisham.  Miss Havisham asked for an orphan to raise, and Jaggers brought her Estella.  Unfortunately, Miss Havisham was not mother material.  She raised Estella with the goal of teaching her to break men’s hearts, and as a result Estella does not grow up in charge of her own emotions.

Estella is proud.  She holds herself above others, and considers herself better.  As a child she taunts Pip, and as a young lady she taunts him and all other young men.

A connected but different trait is that Estella is scornful.  She does not acknowledge Pip’s affection for her or anyone else’s.  When Pip comments that she lets other men gather around her, her response is dismissive.

“Moths, and all sorts of ugly creatures,” replied Estella, with a glance towards him, “hover about a lighted candle. Can the candle help it?” (ch 38)

Estella acts as if she has no control over the fact that young men find her attractive.

Estella is cold, and tells Pip so.  Early in the adult relationship, she tells Pip that she has no heart.

“Oh! I have a heart to be stabbed in or shot in, I have no doubt,” said Estella, “and, of course, if it ceased to beat I should cease to be. But you know what I mean. I have no softness there, no—sympathy—sentiment—nonsense.” (ch 29)

She is trying to warn him that a relationship with her is not possible.  She does it in a cold way because she is a cold person, but trying to warn him at all is an example of her personality.  She would be a good person if Miss Havisham had not manipulated her from a young child.

Read the study guide:
Great Expectations

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