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Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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Pip and Estella's complex relationship in Great Expectations


Pip and Estella's relationship in Great Expectations is marked by unrequited love and manipulation. Pip falls deeply in love with Estella, but she is cold and unresponsive, having been raised by Miss Havisham to break men's hearts. Despite their emotional distance and Estella's indifference, Pip remains devoted, highlighting the themes of social class and unattainable desire.

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How does Pip feel about Estella's marriage in Great Expectations?

Pip is understandably upset--since they were children, Pip has loved Estella and wanted to impress her. And, when he received his inheritance, he assumed that is was from Miss Havisham, for the intentions of bettering his place in society so that he can be worthy of Estella, his hopes soar even higher.  He thinks that the entire purpose of his money is so that he can marry Estella with no sense of shame.

So, not only is he upset that she is getting married--not to him, but he also doesn't like the guy that she gets married to, Bentley Drummle.  When she tells him, he even calls Bentley a "mean brute, such a stupid brute" right to her face.  As it turns out, he is right--Estella does not have a happy marriage, and Bentley treats her horribly.  The news of her engagement to him throws Pip into a serious depression.  He is devastated, and after proclaiming in a very moving speech how much he loves her, he leaves and wanders about in a daze for hours.  Her marriage is news that not only shatters his hopes for marrying her, but also the hope that he was chosen as her future spouse.  He begins to doubt why he received his inheritance from Miss Havisham.

Overall, Estella's marriage to Drummle is very upsetting for Pip, and throws many of his assumptions into doubt.  I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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How does Pip feel about Estella in Great Expectations?

Pip's interest in Estella, which begins when he is quite young, and is actively fostered by Miss Havisham as part of her revenge against the male race, is probably best described as an infatuation that will not stand the test of time as he grows and changes.  Pip begins the novel as a seven year old orphan who has already absorbed some unhappy lessons in how unjust the world can be, and who puts himself at risk to help feed a hungry criminal; he ends the novel as a gentleman whose education, wealth and standing in society were financed by this same criminal, who went to Australia and made a fortune as a sheep farmer.  In between the "old" Pip, who, though young, was a person of kindness, and the "final" Pip, who had come full circle in terms of character and morality, was the Pip who fell for Estella.  Estella was a cruel, shallow, superficial young woman, but during these years, as he was becoming a gentleman, Pip did not have the maturity or strength of character to notice this, or if he did, to care.  Indeed, convinced that the financing of his expectations is Miss Havisham, and that he has been chosen as a suitor for Estella, he often slips into behavior not unlike Estella's, almost like he is trying to become more like her and her world.  There are times he is dishonest, and he also finds, early on, the presence of his kind brother-in-law, Joe Gargery, to be an embarrassment.

At the novel's original ending, the mature Pip who has developed character and a sense of obligation to do what is morally right, parts ways with Estella, which seems like the ending most in character with the extensive changes his character has undergone.  It is difficult to imagine the Pip who ends the novel ever being happy with someone like Estella, although Dickens later rewrote the ending to suggest that at some point the two might get together. 

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In Great Expectations, how does Estella treat Pip at their first meeting?

Estella treats Pip very scornfully when they first meet. They first encounter one another when she lets him into Satis Hall, where he has come to meet Miss Havisham. From the start, Estella seems haughty and proud. She makes no effort to smile or be pleasant, and she calls Pip "boy" over and over, although they seem to be the same age. As Pip recounts:

She seemed much older than I, of course, being a girl, and beautiful and self-possessed; and she was as scornful of me as if she had been one-and-twenty, and a queen.

Estella has been raised to be cold by Miss Havisham. This is Miss Havisham's way of getting back at all men because of the hurt she suffered when her betrothed left her at the altar. Pip, of course, doesn't understand this and assumes when he comes into his great expectations that Miss Havisham is behind his new status. He believes she wants to raise him up to be a gentleman so that he can marry Estella, but that could not be further from the truth.

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In Great Expectations, how does Estella treat Pip at their first meeting?

When they first meet, Estella treats Pip horribly.  She makes fun of his appearance, his stature (social status) and how he speaks.  She mentions his clothing and his thick-soled shoes.  She repeats the phrase "common boy" when referring to him or even speaking directly to him.  Then she teases him for calling the Jacks (in a deck of cards) Knaves.

In fact, she seems eager to make him cry. Miss Havisham raised her to be cruel and reject any form of love. She herself was never taught to love or how to feel loved.  So her first encounter and many more after that with Pip are all very hard on him.  He so badly wants to win her over, only to finally realize that she will never have him. 

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In Great Expectations, how does Estella treat Pip at their first meeting?

In Chapter XI of Great Expectations, Pip returns to Satis House and finds it occupied with guests, but Estella is even crueler to Pip, hitting him and calling him names.

When Pip arrives at Satis House for his second visit, Estella comes to lead him into a gloomy room with a low ceiling. There are some people already in the room, and Estella tells Pip to stand by the window and wait until he is called. Later, Estella calls to Pip and again they walk along a dark passageway.

"Well, miss," I answered, almost falling over her and checking myself.
..."Am I pretty?"
"Yes; I think you are very pretty."
"Am I insulting?"
"Not as much as you were last time," said I.
"Not so much so?"
She slapped my face with such force as she had.
"Now?" said she. "You little coarse monster what do you think of me now?"
"I shall not tell you."

Estella then accuses Pip of waiting until he is upstairs to report her cruel act to Miss Havisham or Mr. Jaggers, who is also there. Then she asks him why he does not cry; Pip replies that he will never again let her see him cry. After this, Miss Havisham has him walk her around a room with a rotting cake. She tells Pip it is her birthday. After this they return to the first room and Miss Havisham has Pip and Estella play cards. All the time that they play, Miss Havisham draws Pip's attention to Estella's beauty, which she enhances by placing jewels on her throat and hair.

Later, Pip encounters the pale young gentleman, who insists that they box and follow the rules of the Marquis of Queensbury. Pip proves the stronger. So Pip says "good afternoon" to him and returns to the courtyard. There Estella stands "with a bright flush on her cheeks." "You may kiss me if you like," she tells Pip. Although Pip kisses her, he feels as though the kiss were given the coarse common boy as a piece of money might have been, and that it was worth nothing.

It was a mere token prize to the boy who won the fight--nothing more.

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In Great Expectations, how does Estella treat Pip at their first meeting?

Estella is scornful and arrogant to Pip on their first meeting. She calls him "boy" over and over again, even though they are about the same age. She does this despite the fact that he is very respectful of her and calls her "miss." Pip notes that she acts as if she is older than he is. He attributes this to her being a beautiful girl and very self assured. He says she behaves as "if she had been one-and-twenty, and a queen."

What Pip doesn't know at this point is that Estella has been deliberately brought up by Miss Havisham to be proud and scornful of the male sex. Miss Havisham means for her to break Pip's heart in revenge for her own distress and heartbreak at having been left at the marriage altar many years before.

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Why doesn't Estella return Pip's affection in Great Expectations?

There are two main reasons Estella does not return Pip’s affection.  One, she is incapable of feeling affection.  Two, she does have brotherly affection for him, but she wants to use her romantic affection to get back at Miss Havisham.

Estella plainly tells Pip that she cannot love him because she does not have the ability to love.  Miss Havisham raised her to be cold and heartless, and have no feelings.  She tells him 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, p. 162)

It is actually out of a sort of affection that she tells him this.  She is trying to spare his feelings.  In her own way, she does care for him.  What she really means is that she has no ability to LOVE romantically.  She cannot be in love with him.  She thinks of him as a brother, because they grew up together.  She also has no desire to marry for love.  Miss Havisham raised her to get revenge on men, and she intends to kill two birds with one stone.  She will offend all of the gentlemen suitors by marrying the dolt Drummle, and she will affend Miss Havisham by not involving her.

Miss Havisham is upset with how Estella turns out.  She wants a daughter she can feel affection for, or who will at least feel affection for her.  She accuses Estella of being cold toward her, which is unacceptable, and Estella accuses her of hypocrisy.

“You should know,” said Estella. “I am what you have made me. Take all the praise, take all the blame; take all the success, take all the failure; in short, take me.” (ch 38, p. 206)

Estella cannot love Miss Havisham.  She informs her that she has her love, as she has been taught to love, and no more.  Estella blames Miss Havisham for the kind of life she had, and the kind of person she has become.

It is one of the great ironies of the book that Miss Havisham's creation turns against her, and Miss Havisham finds herself wanting love, familial love, and not able to get it because of how she has treated those close to her.

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Why is Estella mean to Pip in Great Expectations?

Estella is so mean to Pip in the novel because she has been taught to be this way by Miss Havisham. Estella is a beautiful girl and is Miss Havisham's ward, and Miss Havisham plans to use her to wreak revenge on men.

Miss Havisham was badly traumatized when she was left at the altar. She has never recovered from the experience, as Pip discovers when he is sent to visit her. She still wears her yellowing wedding gown and has her moldering wedding feast set on a table. It is as if time stopped when she was betrayed.

Because a man broke her heart, Miss Havisham raises Estella to break men's hearts. She wants her ward to be mean, arrogant, and coldhearted. She wants Estella to entice men to fall in love with her so that she can watch Estella reject and hurt them. In the case of Pip, he falls into the trap very nicely, falling in love with a woman who can't return his affection.

Miss Havisham, however, comes to regret the way she brought up Estella. When, late in the novel, she asks her ward why she is so cold to her and can't love her despite everything she has done for her, Estella says that it was Miss Havisham who made her this way. In her desire to hurt others, Miss Havisham has hurt herself and Estella, who lacks the capacity to be affectionate.

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Does Pip love Estella in Great Expectations?

Pip believes he loves Estella, and he is certainly enamored of her for many reasons. First, Estella is beautiful, and Pip is an impressionable young man who is bowled over by her beauty. Moreover, Estella represents everything to which Pip aspires. He longs to be part of the upper class that Miss Havisham and Estella represent. The irony of Estella’s situation is that she does not actually represent Miss Havisham’s upper class in reality; her background is even more lower-class than Pip’s, as she is the daughter of a convict. Pip does not know this early on when he first meets her and believes he has fallen in love with her.

Another aspect of Estella that attracts Pip, ironically, is her haughty manner. Estella treats Pip as if he is beneath her, which is the way Miss Havisham has taught her it is appropriate to treat men. While another young man, perhaps one with a greater sense of self-esteem or self-confidence, would be rebuffed by this, Pip finds it alluring. Estella’s behavior toward him only serves to reinforce his longing to be part of her class and to feel as if he belongs.

This is consistent with his belief that his secret benefactor is a wealthy person—specifically Miss Havisham herself—who has recognized that Pip’s qualities make him someone who should be accepted. Pip does seem to love Estella, but regardless of whether the feelings of love are real or not, he certainly wants to be accepted by her. In the novel's final scene, Pip and Estella leave the ruined grounds of Miss Havisham's house hand in hand, which suggests that the two might share a loving relationship now that they are older and wiser.

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In Great Expectations, why does Pip love Estella?

In the final chapter of Great Expectations, Pip visits Satis House where he encounters Estella, whom he has not seen for years.

The freshness of her beauty was indeed gone, but its indescribable majesty and its indescribable charm remained.

Her "majesty" and her "charm" are what Pip has always loved. Upon first seeing Estella, whose name denotes "star," Pip is struck by what he perceives as her superiority, a "majesty" that holds a magical "charm," in the sense of allurement, for Pip.

On the day of his first visit to Satis House, little Pip, whose entire world has only been the forge and the marshes, is mesmerized by the beauty of the young lady who leads him up the stairs to the strange room where an even stranger Miss Havisham sits. And, when Estella demeans him as "a common laboring boy," Pip's hyper-imaginativeness and exisential sense generates Estella into a paragon of beauty and social class, the goal to which he must aspire or be inferior:

I took the opportunity of being alone to look at my coarse hands and my common boots. They had never troubled me before, but they troubled me now....I wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so too.

With Estella as representative of the pinnacle of his aspirations, Pip fails to perceive any faults in her. Instead, encouraged by Miss Havisham to "love her, love her!" he commences his efforts to become a gentleman in order to be worthy of her. Estella, the star," is the wish, the unattainable desire, the reach which exceeds Pip's grasp. Indeed, she is one of his illusionary "great expectations" as Estella is the mere daughter of two convicts, a common person albeit one who possesses uncommon beauty. And, yet, in his romanticized vision of love, Pip retains his perception of "majesty" and "charm" in Estella to the very end.

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In Great Expectations, what does Pip's reaction to driving by the prison with Estella reveal about his image of her?

Pip and Estella have tea together.  She informs him that she is going to Richmond to reside with a socially influential lady.  Estella allows Pip to kiss her cheek, but she still treats him with an attitude of distance.  This is not a deterrent to him.  His admiration of her does not falter.

Pip accompanies Estella in a coach to Richmond on the way to her new home.  The coach drives through Cheapside in London and passes by the walls of the Newgate Prison.  Pip knows this place well, but he does not want to share that fact with Estella.  She asks him about the place.  At first, he pretends not to know anything.  When he does tell her that it is a prison, she "[draws] in her head again, murmuring, 'Wretches!'"  Estella has no sympathy for the prisoners at Newgate, and her attitude causes Pip to hide that he visited there.  He is ashamed to tell her.  Pip greatly admires Estella.  He wants to hide aspects of his life that she will disapprove of.  Pip sees Estella as being better than him, which is why he constantly strives to better himself and impress her.

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In Great Expectations, what does Pip's reaction to driving by the prison with Estella reveal about his image of her?

In order to get better answers, you should tell us whatever you can about where in the book you think the answer is.  I am assuming you are talking about the part in Chapter 33 where Pip and Estella happen to be driving by Newgate Prison.  Pip has just been there the day before.

When she asks Pip what that place is, he pretends at first not to know.  In my opinion, this shows that he still places Estella on a pedestal.  He thinks that she is too good and too delicate to even have to think about such things as prisons.

You can see this attitude of his in this quote from the end of Chapter 32:

I thought of the beautiful young Estella, proud and refined, coming towards me, and I thought with absolute abhorrence of the contrast between the jail and her.

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How does Joe feel about Pip in Great Expectations?

In Great Expectations, Joe is both father and friend to the orphaned Pip.  He is protective, shielding Pip from the wrath of Pip's sister, his wife, who rushes at Pip with "Tickler," a switch with which she whips Pip.  He carries Pip with him on the marsh, throwing him on top of his broad shoulders; he holds Pip tenderly by the fire as Pip works on his letters, complimenting Pip's efforts.  Early in the novel, Joe indicates his tenderness and love for Pip as he relates his meeting of Mrs. Joe:

'When I offered to your be asked in church, at such times as she was willing and ready to come to the forge, I said to her, 'And bring the poor little child.  God bless the poor little child,...there's room for him at the forge.'

After this evening with Joe, Pip declares,

Young as I was, I believe that I dated a new admiration of Joe from that night.  We were equals afterward, as we had been before; but afterward, at quiet times when I sat looking at Joe and thinking about him, I had a new sensation of feeling conscious that I was looking up to Joe in my heart.

When he returns from his first visit to Satis House, Pip complains to Joe that he is "common," as Estella has labeled him, and that he wishes he were that common.  Disturbed by hearing Pip's words, Joe tells him,

'As to being common, I don't make it out at all clear.  You are oncommon in some things.  You're oncommon small.  Likewise you're a oncommon scholar.'

On the occasion of Pip's being apprenticed to Joe, they go to Satis House together where Miss Havisham, who has requested that Joe bring Pip's indentures with him:

It was very aggravating; but, throughout the interview, Joe persisted in addressing me instead of Miss Havisham.  It was quite in vain for me to make him sensible that he ought to speak to Miss Havisham.  the more I made faces and gestures to him to do it, the more confidential, argumentative, and polite he persisted in being to me.

Joe's behavior in this scene indicates his feelings of inferiority to Miss Havisham.  Like a commoner in the presence of royalty, Joe does not directly address Miss Havisham out of respect for her higher social status.  Instead, he speaks through Pip.  This action also indicates that he perceives Pip as socially higher than he, now.

Joe's integrity, however, is insulted when Miss Havisham implies that he wishes a "premium with the boy."  "Cutting me [Pip] short as if he were hurt," Joe responds,

..."which I meantersay that were not a question requiring a answer betwit yourself and me, and which you know the answer to be full 'No.'"

Joe Gargery's love and loyal friendship for Pip know no bounds as he continues to love Pip even when the snobbish Pip neglects him.  Rushing to his aid after he is burned, Joe tenderly nurses Pip back to health, mitigating Pip's apologies for his behavior with his signature phrase, "Ever the best of friends, Pip, ol'chap!"

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In chapter 33 of Great Expectations, what do Estella's comments reveal about her personality and her feelings towards Pip?

In chapter 33 of Great Expectations, Estella's comments all reveal a detached and ironic personality, which finds great satisfaction in the frustration of those she despises. She is amused at the hatred the Pocket family feels for Pip, and she bursts out laughing when she reflects on how little they can do to harm him.

Estella's tone is composed, showing that she has her emotions under control, but her delight at the failures of Miss Havisham's greedy relations shows the malice and resentment she feels towards them. As she explains to Pip:

“It is not easy for even you,” said Estella, “to know what satisfaction it gives me to see those people thwarted, or what an enjoyable sense of the ridiculous I have when they are made ridiculous. 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.

Estella's behavior does convince Pip that she cares for him, but he takes very little convincing, since this is what he wants to believe, even though he admits to himself that she does not make him happy. When she calls him by name for the first time, he reads a profound meaning into this simple gesture and believes that she means him to “treasure it up.” However, Pip's emotions are conflicted, and alongside his willingness to believe that Estella cares for him is the notion that she has been influenced by Miss Havisham to change her attitude.

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