Book Review Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens tells a story about Pip’s great expectations. The story takes place in England in the 1860’s when the social class itself was a form of imprisonment. The theme of imprisonment is frequently intertwined in this novel. Many think of a prison as a stale building, but it also can be a state of mind. Pip, Estella, and Miss Havisham are three characters from Great Expectations who struggle with imprisonment on a day to day basis.
Pip, the main character and protagonist of Great Expectations, suffers from imprisonment quite a lot in this novel. As an adolescent, he has an encounter with an escaped convict. Pip carries the imprisonment of the multiple secrets he must keep to himself as a result of this experience. In chapter one of Great Expectations, the Convict says, "Keep still you little devil or I'll cut your throat!" (Dickens 4). This quote is said by the Convict when he approaches Pip and orders him to talk to him. Secondly, he suffers imprisonment of his social class. Pip laments about his career as a blacksmith, mainly since Estella looks down upon him for it. Finally, throughout the book, Pip is imprisoned within his great expectations. For instance, when he started visiting the Satis House, he aspired to become a gentleman. Pip eventually gets to experience life as a gentleman that he has been so impatient to fulfill. Pip's prisons are the ones that affect the tone of the book the most.
Estella suffers from multiple imprisonments as well. Miss Havisham completely controls Estella's head. Estella is brainwashed by Miss Havisham to have "no heart." In chapter forty-nine of Great Expectations, Miss Havisham says, "I stole her heart away and put ice in its place" (Dickens 384). Miss Havisham says this quote when talking to Pip at the end of the book when she is explaining to him how she made Estella a terrible person and she regrets this. Estella’s inability to feel emotions towards any male is what leads her to downfall. Towards the end of the book, Estella marries Bentley Drummle and it is, unfortunately, an abusive and unpleasant marriage. Estella is imprisoned in this situation also. In these ways, Estella is in her own prison.
Miss Havisham is stuck in one of the most torturous prisons of all. She even ends up taking her life because of it. Ever since she received a letter from her fiancé calling off the wedding, she has never seen the light of day. She stops all the clocks in her house twenty to nine and stays in her wedding dress. She lays the place to waste. In chapter twenty-nine of Great Expectations, Miss Havisham says, "What real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the smiter—as I did!" (Dickens 231). Miss Havisham is reflecting on how she feels about love and is telling Pip how she has had her heartbroken. She plots her revenge against the male sex by encouraging Estella to break all men’s hearts. Miss Havisham teaches Estella her twisted ways, which eventually imprisons Estella. Grieving the situation Miss Havisham imprisons herself by continuing to live in the past.
Pip, Estella, and Miss Havisham are three characters from Great Expectations who struggle with imprisonment on a day to day basis. They are imprisoned by themselves and multiple other characters. Social class was a prison of its own. Throughout the book, they are affected by different characters which make them change how they act towards others. The theme of imprisonment was frequently intertwined in the book Great Expectations.
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