Linking sexuality and economics, Great Expectations constructs Pip's and Estella's relationship by means of these issues. According to Ross Dabney, in Love and Property in the Novels of Dickens, Pip's relationship with Estella
is not something between two persons, concerning itself with what the two persons are; it is concerned with impersonalthings- with class, with status, with habits, occupations, gestures, and language standard in a particular social milieu. (134)
Estella creates the precedent of defining their relationship through economics when she first meets Pip and calls him a “common labouring boy" (8,89). As mentioned before, Miss Havisham continues this focus on economics by enhancing Estella's beauty with expensive jewels. Describing his thoughts upon his and Estella's first kiss, Pip, using words with economic overtones recalls, “I felt that the kiss was given to the coarse common boy as a piece of money might have been, and that it was worth nothing" (11,121). Pip compares Estella's kiss to the coldness of money but concurrently evaluates the value of the kiss. Creating a link between economics and sexuality, Pip defines the theme which will overshadow his and Estella's relationship. Citing this passage, Nunokawa writes, “capital is identified with and as a too-fascinating passion, as much as it is hailed or condemned as the means by which such passions are stilled" (123). Beginning with this moment, Pip mixes his feelings for Estella with his desire for wealth and gentility. He cannot separate the sexual act of kissing from the economic distance between Estella and him. Just as Marian's identity centers around her class position, similarly, Pip's construction of Estella hinges on the difference between his and Estella's economic status.
As Miss Havisham intended, Estella represents female sexuality to Pip, but part of her value for him comes from her wealth. Pip's false belief that Miss Havisham is his benefactress relies heavily on his notion that Miss Havisham intends him for Estella. Recalling a meeting with Estella, Pip remembers, “the air of inaccessibility which her beauty and her manner gave her, tormented me in the midst of my delight, and at the height of the assurance I felt that our patroness had chosen us for one another" (29, 260). Pip's passionate feelings for Estella immediately get translated into his financial expectations. Leading him to Miss Havisham, Pip's romantic feelings commingle with his desire for wealth. Seeing Estella as the avenue to this wealth, Pip objectifies Estella into a gift Miss Havisham will bestow on him. Acknowledging Estella as a tool of Miss Havisham's, Pip explains:
... [Estella] was not to be given to me until she gratified her for a term. I saw in this, a reason for her being beforehand assigned to me... I saw in this, that I, too, was tormented by a perversion of ingenuity, even while the prize was reserved for me. (38, 312)
Pip expands on Miss Havisham's notion of Estella as a tool. Unable to separate his desire for Estella from economics, Pip wants Estella sexually, but part of “the prize" includes her wealth. In his thoughts about Estella he accepts her as an unfree entity and creates her only in terms of his sexual desires and economic expectations. In accordance with Miss Havisham's construction of Estella, in this stage of the novel, for Pip, Estella's value comes from sexuality and economics.
Last modified 1996