During Pip's adolescence he comes of age after he visits Miss. Havisham's house and begins his relationship with Estella. Pip senses the changes in himself and quickly puts the blame to his surroundings.

[What could I become with these surroundings? How could my character fail to be influenced by them?]

The year Pip spent visiting Miss Havisham presented to him an alternate lifestyle that he may not have been aware of otherwise. He begins to reflect on his own life and see it as inferior to the type of life that Estella lives. He begins to feel ashamed of his home, his background, and his future occupation.

It is a most miserable thing to be ashamed of home.... Home had never been a very pleasant place to me, because of my sister's temper. But Joe had sanctified it, and I had believed in it. I had believed in the best parlor 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 glowing 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 Havishams'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 inexcusable, it was done. [place within the complete text of the novel]

Pip's shame makes him feel guilty. He continues to work at his apprenticeship diligently, but only because of his intense loyalty to Joe. He continues to feel a strange sense of dread at the thought of being seen by Estella, whom he places so high above him.

Questions

1. Pip notices the change in his attitude and admits to himself that it could be attributed to Miss Havisham. Does this portray Miss Havisham negativelyy because she caused Pip's ungracious feelings, or positively because she opened Pip's eyes to the type of privileges he can strive toward in the future?

2. Both Jane Eyre and Great Expectations are written from the point of view of the main character remembering the past. Why might Brontë and Dickens have chosen to write in this method?

3. [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 of 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 every thing that was picturesque.]

Why did Dickens associate Miss Havisham and Estella with picturesque beauty?

4. How might Miss Havisham's house look in comparison to a wealthy home today? What did a typical Victorian house look like in terms of size and layout? How might Joe's house have looked?


Victorian Web Overview Charles Dickens Great Expectations

Last modified 23 February 2008