Great Expectations Essential Quotes by Theme: False Expectations
by Charles Dickens

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Essential Quotes by Theme: False Expectations

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 14

It is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home. There may be black ingratitude in the thing, and the punishment may be retributive and well deserved; but that it is a miserable thing, I can testify.
Home had never been a very pleasant place to me, because of my sister’s temper. But Joe had sanctified it, and I believed in it. I had believed in the best parlour as a most elegant saloon; I had believed in the front door as a mysterious portal of the Temple of State, whose solemn opening was attended with a sacrifice of roast fowls; I had believed in the kitchen as a chaste though not magnificent apartment; I had believed in the forge as the flowing road to manhood and independence. Within a single year all this was changed. Now it was all coarse and common, and I would not have had Miss Havisham and Estella see it on any account.
How much of my ungracious condition of mind may have been my own fault how much Miss Havisham’s how much my sister’s, is now of no moment to me or to any one. The change was made in me; the thing was done. Well or ill done, excusably or inexcusably, it was done.


After a year of visiting Miss Havisham’s home, being exposed to the higher class life, and especially to the snobbery of Estella, Pip has come to have different expectations of what his life should be like. He feels he is born for greater things than being a poor, “common” boy. Estella’s contempt for his laboring class lifestyle had colored his vision. When Miss Havisham provides the funding for his apprenticeship to Joe in the blacksmithing trade, Pip inwardly views it with the same contempt that Estella does. As much as he loves Joe, he decides that he no longer wants to be like him. His home, subject to the moods of his tyrannical and violent sister, has always been an unpleasant place. Now, it is contemptible. Pip feels the contempt, though he is unsure whether it has its source in Miss Havisham’s influence or his sister’s. Regardless, Pip is beginning to turn his back on his home and expect better for himself, even if it means turning his back on Joe.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 34

As I had grown accustomed to my expectations, I had insensibly begun to notice their effect upon myself and those around me. Their influence on my own character, I disguised from my recognition as much as possible, but I knew very well that it was not all good. I lived in a state of chronic uneasiness respecting my behaviour to Joe. My conscience was not by any means comfortable about Biddy. When I woke up in the night—like Camilla—I used to think, with a weariness on my spirits, that I should have been happier and better if I had never seen Miss Havisham’s face, and had risen to manhood content to be partners with Joe in the honest old forge. May a time of an evening, when I sat alone looking at the fire, I thought, after all there was no fire like the forge fire and the kitchen fire at home.


Pip is living the life he has long wanted—the life of a gentleman. He resides in London, with his good friend Herbert Pocket, under the tutelage of Mr. Pocket, the father of Herbert, for no particular purpose but to fit into society. However, it is not quite as enjoyable (or as cheap) as he thought. He and Herbert run into substantial debt through their high living. Estella, though living in Richmond near London, seems as unreachable as ever. Pip begins to notice that his new lifestyle has begun to affect those around him, not just Herbert. He knows that influence is negative. He knows that he has abandoned Joe and Biddy, despite their love and support for him. He begins to realize that his life would have been better and happier if he had remained at home with Joe, continuing his apprenticeship to become a blacksmith. This realization will come too late, as his sister will soon die from the injuries that she sustained in the attack.

Essential Passage 3: Chapter 41

“My poor dear Handel,” Herbert...

(The entire section is 1,538 words.)