1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, is his thirteenth novel which is a blidungsroman, or a coming of age novel. Pip, an orphan who is about six years old, encounters an escaped convict in the village churchyard while visiting the graves of his mother, father, and siblings. The convict scares Pip into stealing food and a file to grind away his shackles from the home he shares with his abusive older sister and her kind, passive husband Joe Gargery, a blacksmith. The next day, soldiers recapture the convict while he is engaged in a fight with another convict; the two are returned to the prison ships they escaped from. He is unclear with his thoughts about a father, he is always testing and questioning the men around him and trying to pull ideas of what a father would or should be like. There is Joe, who is emotional and kind, wanting a emotional relationship amongst people and then there is Jagger, who is all about the profits and making more money than others, he cares to be wealthy and high class in society. Jagger is described as an over powering animal who Pip wants to avoid becoming, but at the same time, it is a great possibility that Jagger is a reflection of what Pip can and may become. His feelings and heart is torn by Estella who is adopted by Mrs. Havisham, who has trained her into destroying men. She has lost the ability to love and care, later on asking for Pip's forgiveness (eleven years later, aat the end of the novel) after the death of her absuvise husband's death.
Notions of and obsession with society and class lead the protagonist of Great Expectations into self-destruction and a loss of dignity. In the world of this novel, society is divided among class lines, creating impenetrable barriers between social classes. When characters attempt to break through these barriers, they only find loneliness and loss. Society is both exalted as a productive and efficient means of organizing human chaos and it is revealed to be internally rotten.
Those characters in Great Expectations who dream the most, hope the most, and plan the most are ultimately wounded by their dreams, hopes, and plans. Likewise, when characters realize their dreams, they do not find the happiness that they expected. Characters use their dreams, hopes, and plans to erase or undo the past.
Great Expectations is a novel about the loss and rediscovery of innocence. Innocence is lost when it is introduced to society and to a societal value system. This encounter establishes a habit of self-consciousness and self-absorption within in the protagonist leading to his ultimate denial of his identity. Innocence is understood as the human state of being unaware of any other values than one’s own and it is characterized by a solid sense of identity.
In Dickens's Great Expectations, love is closely tied to destruction, and it is the protagonist’s guiding light and reason for living. Love is defined and portrayed in many different ways: as romance, narcissistic love, filial love, infatuation, obsession, and unconditional love. Love both blinds the protagonist and sets him free. Love is closely tied to appearances, and, therefore, to deception
Friendship is closely tied to loyalty and is tested often in Great Expectations. Friendship is not found to be indestructible and immune to human folly. Friendship quietly and gradually disintegrates when wealth and social are introduced. Characters who are obsessed with their future often forget the past and the relationships that dwelt there. Loss of friendship and betrayal wounds the protagonist.
"I had heard of Miss Havisham up town – everybody for miles round, had heard of Miss Havisham up town – as an immensely rich and grim lady who lived in a large and dismal house barricaded against robbers, and who led a life of seclusion."
-Pip’s hometown is socially stratified. He lives in the "village," and Miss Havisham lives "up town." Apart from reminding us of a certain Billy Joel song, this delineation between the wealthy and working class in Kent is palpable and is reinforced by the gate that guards Miss Havisham’s decaying riches. Early on, we see how great privilege is closely linked to loneliness.
"I wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so too."
-Pip takes all his cues from Joe. He learns how to interact with the world through his brother-in-law. Here, we see Pip focused on what the he lacks rather than what he has. His introduction to "society" makes him fully aware of the absence of things. Pip wants to belong to Miss Havisham’s world, but he does not have the key to unlock it.
"Whenever I watched the vessels standing out to sea with their white sails spread, I somehow thought of Miss Havisham and Estella; and whenever the light struck aslant, afar off, upon a cloud or sail or green hill-side or water-line, it was just the same. Miss Havisham and Estella and the strange house and the strange life appeared to have something to do with everything that was picturesque. "
-The horizon in Great Expectations is often tied to the concept of dreams, hopes, and plans. Sometimes, Pip looks out onto the marshes and sees nothing but low, flat, wet land that leads to nothing. However, whenever the horizon is populated by sails or other things, Pip instantly feels closer to his dreams. His fear is having nothing on the horizon, nothing to live for, and nothing upon which to hang his hopes. The marsh land is almost like a mirror of Pip’s mind.
"She had adopted Estella, she had as good as adopted me, and it could not fail to be her intention to bring us together. She reserved it for me to restore the desolate house, admit the sunshine into the dark rooms, set the clocks a going and the cold hearths a blazing, tear down the cobwebs, destroy the vermin – in short, do all the shining deeds of the young Knight of romance, and marry the Princess"
-Pip’s dreams seem to be made of images, actions, and theatrical elements rather than emotions or substantive encounters. Instead of being able to imagine a real moment of happiness and understanding with Estella, Pip imagines dramatically and magically curing Satis House. It’s all very Beauty and the Beast.
"But if you think as Money can make compensation to me for the loss of the little child – what come to the forge – and ever the best of friends! –"
-Jaggers, who is used to London society, assumes that all humans are greedy and are hungry for money. Joe defies this assumption and is later angered by it. Jaggers seems unaware that relationships exist that are stronger than money. He deals with a corrupt society daily.
"Well," said he, "I believe you. You'd be but a fierce young hound indeed, if at your time of life you could help to hunt a wretched warmint, hunted as near death and dunghill as this poor wretched warmint is!"
-Six year-old Pip is completely truthful and honest. Here we see the sharp contrast between innocent youth and the corrupt criminal. Pip loses a bit of this innocence, however, by feeding the convict and by supplying him with a file. He becomes an accessory to the convict’s crime, and this evening stays with Pip forevermore, causing him huge guilt at having to rob his sister and lie to Joe.
"The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. Once for all; I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. Once for all; I loved her nonetheless because I knew it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection."
-So, Pip is not necessarily in love with Estella, but he may just be in lust with Estella? He sees her faults clear as day, but he has not power over this love/list. Even though loving Estella promises sadness, destruction, and pain, Pip cannot help but be drawn to her. She’s like a Siren from Homer’s Odyssey. She’s impossible to resist, and there’s something a little out of the ordinary or fantastical about the strength of her power over Pip.
- Philip Pirrip, nicknamed Pip, an orphan and the protagonist and narrator of Great Expectations. Throughout his childhood, Pip dreamed of becoming a blacksmith. As a result of Magwitch's anonymous patronage, Pip travels to London and becomes a gentleman. Pip assumes his benefactor is Miss Havisham, and discovering that his true benefactor is a convict shocks him.
-Joe Gargery, Pip's brother-in-law, and his first father figure. He is a blacksmith who is always kind to Pip and the only person with whom Pip is always honest. Joe is very disappointed when Pip decided to leave his home and travel to London to become a gentleman rather than be a blacksmith
-Mrs. Joe Gargery, Pip's hot-tempered adult sister, who raises him after their parents' death but constantly complains of the burden of raising Pip. Orlick, her husband's journeyman, attacks her, and she is left disabled until her death.
-Miss Havisham, wealthy spinster who takes Pip on as a companion and who Pip suspects is his benefactor. Miss Havisham does not deny this as it fits into her own spiteful plans that derive from her desire for revenge after being jilted at the altar several years before. She later apologises to Pip as she is overtaken by guilt. He accepts her apology, and she is badly burnt when her wedding dress, which she has never taken off since her jilting, catches fire when she sits too close to the fireplace. Pip saves her, but she later dies from her injuries.
-Estella, Miss Havisham's adopted daughter, whom Pip pursues throughout the novel. She does not know that she is the daughter of Molly, Jaggers's housekeeper, and Abel Magwitch, Pip's convict. Estella was given up for adoption to Miss Havisham after her mother, Molly, is tried for murder. Estella represents the life of wealth and culture for which Pip strives. Since Miss Havisham ruined Estella's ability to love, Estella cannot return Pip's passion. She warns Pip of this repeatedly, but he will not or cannot believe her.
-Jaggers, prominent London lawyer who represents the interests of diverse clients, both criminal and civil. He represents Pip's benefactor and Miss Havisham as well. By the end of the story, his law practice links many of the characters.