Can you please help me compare two characters from Pride and Prejudice and Great Expectations by Austen and Dickens?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The best comparison might be of Jane and Estelle. Jane is the heroine's sister in Pride and Prejudice but has a significant subplot of her own, though for a large part she in an inactive actant in the narrative. Estelle is the heroine in Great Expectations, though for the largest part of the narrative, she is more like an anti-heroine until the results of her fall and epiphany are discovered in the closing chapter.

"There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth. But since my duty has not been incompatible with the admission of that remembrance, I have given it a place in my heart," [said Estelle to Pip.]

These two characters are a good comparison because of the contrasts. While Jane is a recognized beauty, more beautiful than Elizabeth (despite poor casting in films), her dominant traits are her goodness of heart, gentleness and willingness to think the best of acquaintances until forced to acknowledge their failings. Estelle is also a beauty but her dominant traits are opposite of Jane's, being hardness of heart, haughtiness, pride, and scorn of other people, especial boys and men.

"To Jane herself," [Elizabeth] exclaimed, "there could be no possibility of objection; all loveliness and goodness as she is!--her understanding excellent, her mind improved, and her manners captivating."

While Jane is willing to forgive Bingley for leaving without declaring his love and to learn to turn her heart to thoughts of other than him, Estelle rejoices in carrying animosity and harboring unfounded grudges until they turn to hatred as her thoughts fester against the men she manipulates and despises.

This comparison demonstrates that Jane and Estelle are antithetical opposites of each other, characterizations that develop their respective roles of heroine of a subplot and villainess who torments the hero.

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Pride and Prejudice

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