Charles Dickens “Great Expectations” Coursework

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In my essay my essay I am going to be exploring what techniques Charles Dickens uses to create characters and themes raised through them. The three main characters I will be focussing on in my essay will be: Pip, Miss’s Havisham and Estella. I will be exploring how these three characters are used my Dickens for the development of interesting themes throughout the book.

Dickens has created Pip as the key character in great expectations. Pip is the narrative voice in the novel telling he’s life story. Pip originally started of being a nice kind hearted young boy as seen at the start of the novel in which he helps the convict “Magwitch” by giving him some food and the file. Dickens has also shown Pip as being rather gullible also, this is shown by Dickens in a variety of ways for example when Pip believes that a horrible man will tear his liver out whilst he sleeps unless he does as he has been told. Pips gullibility is used by Dickens to raise the key theme in the novel “Pips love and obsession for Estella”. Pip is immediately sucked in by the charms of Estella from the moment he meets her at Miss Havishams house. This is Pips changing point in he’s life “when he meets Estella”. Because Pip has fallen for Estella it really hurt Pip when Estella referred to him as ‘common’ he decides from this negative comment from Estella that he is disgruntled with the life he leads and felt being a blacksmith is not good enough for him as is not going to impress Estella.

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Pips life becomes devoted to Estella and wishes to become a gentleman in order to impress Estella. This is when Pip discovers he has inherited a large some of money from a mystery benefactor who is to be remained omnibus. Pip assumes this mystery benefactor is Miss’s Havisham. This is because Miss Havisham tricks a lures gullible Pip into thinking this just as she likes to keep every one in suspense as to who she will be leaving who her money and belongings to when she dies (q). Pip becomes extremely discourteous and snobbish when he inherits this large some of money from this mystery benefactor and forgets and looks down and is embarrassed of he’s old good quality friends like Joe for example when Joe comes to visit Pip in London he states “If I could of kept him away by paying money, I certainly would have paid money”. This implies that the quantity of embarrassment of Joes presents was extremely high to Pip because Joe has little money and also means that Pips life has become very money orientated.

This shows Pip is not a true gentleman at all even though he has established table manners, obtains a lot of money now and lives in London. Dickens uses this to create the theme of irony, it is ironic because the only true gentleman through the novel is Joe, Pip talks to him like he is not a gentleman because he thinks he haves to have a lot of money and live in London to be a true gentleman this shows how Pip has changed greatly since he has inherited the money. Dickens also uses this to create the theme of self-knowledge because although Pip is given money and becomes wealthy and is taught table manners and how to speak in a formal style he loses the true values of being a true gentleman in the process.

It is only through Joe he humbly realises the worthlessness of his previous behaviour and the emptiness of his ambitions. As Joe stays a blacksmith at the forge he has remained a kind hearted honest man throughout where as Pip has become extremely snobby and horrible. This is when Pip helps Herbert Pocket into a business career and later on realises this is the only gentleman like thing he has done since he moved to London(q). After 11 years of devoting he’s life to Estella his chance meeting with Estella had a happy out come after all, as Dickens created a romantic kiss at the end of the film.

Dickens perceives/creates Miss Havisham as an old, spiteful, bitter, manipulative woman. Miss’s Havisham hates all men due to the expense of one man standing her up on there wedding day which left Miss Havisham with a broken heart. Miss Havisham was unable to recover from this incident and found it incredibly hard to move on from that day and remained in the wedding dress she was stood up in ever since and remained surrounded in decaying food which had been left from her wedding day, Pip states “she was dressed in rich materials- satins and lace and silks- all of white, her shoes were white.

And she had a long white veil dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair, but her hair was white.” Through her bad experience in men she seeks revenge in all men and uses Estella as her ‘tool’ (q). Miss Havisham wants all men to be unhappy and unsatisfied with there lives just like she has and Pip happens to be the most convenient one (man). In the end Miss Havisham actually feels guilty for what she had done to Estella and Pip and realises she has created a mess of her self, making Estella into a heartless horrible cunning young lady and also turning Pip into a horrible snobbish man through the efforts of trying to be a gentleman for Estella and cry’s “what have I done” repeatedly and shouts to Estella (q) which shows that she finally does establish some sought sympathy towards love despite of her negative

experience/hang up with the emotion. She then out of guilt try’s to help Pip with he’s plan for Herbert Pocket (to start him up into a business career) and leaves her cousin “Mathew” a legacy on Pip’s recommendation. Miss Havisham then remains the rest of her life living in guilt as to what she has done to Estella and Pip. Dickens raises many themes through Miss’s Havisham such as: Humanity, Miss Havishams wealth brings her to no happiness and comfort at all. Miss Havisham uses her wealth as an instrument to upset her greedy relatives and to work her revenge back on the male sex through Estella. This raises the theme of humanity because the terrible human values Miss Havisham had prevailed over her wealth and made her unhappy for the rest of her life. Justice, Miss’s Havisham extremely cruel and uses Pip and Estella at the beginning of the novel and towards the end on the novel Justice takes place and Miss Havishams realises the damage she has done to two people lives and has to live the rest of her life in guilt.

Estella’s appearance may be beautiful but due to her twisted upbringing from Miss Havisham she has been created/influenced in to a heartless, self possessed, cruel, bitter and twisted young lady. Estella does not fully establish she has been used by the sick twisted old women and that she her self is no more than Miss Havishams ‘tool’ to get her revenge. Estella has been well educated and uses this to her advantage to talk down to Pip (q). This makes Pip feel much lower then Estella and is where Pip decides he wants to become a gentleman, so Estella cruelty to Pip effected Pip to the extent that he wants to change he’s life so he feels he is on the same level of her in terms of education and wealth. This shows that Estella’s words are very effective/powerful to Pip.

Dickens raises the theme of justice again, Estella falls in love with a brutal ill-mannered man named Bently Drummle and was determined to marry him. Bently Drummle was such a nasty person even Miss’s Havisham tried talking Estella out of marrying him (q). Estella does any way and realises what she through away when she rejected Pips love and through her hard experience with Drummle it softens her heart and she becomes very humble and she hopes to be friends with Pip because she is to humble o hope for anything more. But romance between Estella and Pip happen at the very end of the story and finishes with Estella and Pip kissing.


My favourite character created by Dickens he’s the novel “Great Expectations” was Joe because he remains a humble honest kind-hearted man throughout the novel, Pip states ” Well he’s a dear fellow- in fact , I think the dearest fellow that ever lived”. Which I agree with because he is satisfied with working at the forge as a blacksmith and money does not influence he’s life like most of the rest of the characters. The most Interesting character to me created by Dickens was Miss’s Havisham because what makes a person interesting is when a person does something unusual. If some one does everything normally its not interesting because there is nothing unique to talk about. Miss’s Havisham is unusual because she chooses to live in decaying rotting surroundings from her wedding day that has been left for many years and wares the same wedding dress since that day which implies she is unable to move on from that one heart braking day.

She is also unusual because she uses Estella and Pip and try’s to destroy there lives because of her hatred towards all men, due to her negative experience with one man. I came across three main theme used by Dickens frequently throughout the book they were the themes of: Self-knowledge, Irony, Justice and Humanity. But overall there was an underlying theme of natural Justice through the novel. The characters that remained loyal and honest was rewarded. Examples: honest, faithful Herbert Pocket deserved and got his happy marriage to Clara, Joe and biddy deserved there happiness together due to there loyalty and hard work the forge, and in the end when both settled and become humble Pip and Estella was allowed a happy future once they both humbled and realised how vain and foolish they became.

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