Great Expectations: SymbolismIn life, symbolism is present all around us. Whether it is in the clothes wewear, the things we do, or what we buy, everything has a meaning. Symbolism isalso present in literature and it is shown in Charles Dickens Great Expectations.
The symbols of isolation, manipulation, the tragic hero, and wanting to besomeone else are seen throughout the book through the characters of Estella,Magwitch, Miss Havisham, and Pip.The character of Estella represents the symbols of isolation and manipulation.By acting as an adult when she was still young, she separated herself from Pipand others. This was due in large part to the way Miss Havisham, her stepmother,raised her. She had no emotion, as Miss Havisham used her for revenge on men. Onhis first visit to the Satis House, Pip overheard Miss Havisham tell Estella”Well? You can break his heart.
” 65. By doing what Miss Havisham tells her to,she shows she is just as heartless as her stepmother. She also representsmanipulation in how she played with Pip’s feelings, who has strong feelings forher eventhough he also cannot stand her. She tells Pip “Come here! You may kissme if you like.” 102. Although the kiss may have meant a lot to Pip, it didnot mean anything to Estella as she was just playing with Pip’s emotions.The character of Magwitch represents the symbols of isolation and the tragichero.
In this case, he was physically isolated from society because he was aconvict and was looked upon with disgust. When Magwitch confesses and apologizesto Joe for stealing the food, Joe replies “poor miserable fellow creatur.” 43.
Magwitch also illustrates the symbol of the tragic hero. Throughout most of thebook, Magwitch is looked down upon by Pip. Magwitch talks about his gratitudefor Pip when he helped him as a convict many years ago. “You acted noble, myboy,” said he.
356. “Noble Pip! And I have never forgot it!” 356. He showswhy he is a hero when he explains to Pip that he was the benefactor and the oneresponsible for making him a gentleman and helping him achieve his greatexpectations. “Yes, Pip, dear boy, I’ve made a gentleman on you! It’s me wotdone it!” 359-360. After his death, however, Pip feels guilt and sadness whenhe learns what Magwitch spent most of his life trying do.
As a result, he showsthe readers why he was the tragic hero.One character who represents the symbols of isolation and manipulation is MissHavisham. For most of her life, she has refused to let go of her past as shecontinues to wear her wedding dress and keep her wedding cake. Her decayingdress and cake are symbols of how her life rotted away. It also depicted thestate of the Satis House, where she was isolated from the rest of society. Thehouse is used as a metaphor to show how they decayed and crumbled as time passedon.
Miss Havisham also illustrates the symbol of manipulation. She had raisedEstella as a heartless stepdaughter whose main purpose was to seek revenge onmen. This central motivation of revenge resulted from the fact that she was arejected lover.
Her plan is shown when she tells Estella to go play with Pip.”Well? You can break his heart.” 65. As a result, she made Estella into ahuman monster with no emotion. Near the end, Miss Havisham dies a hopelessneurotic.
The one character who shows the symbol of how people always want to be someoneelse but than decide they are better off with whom they are is Pip, the story’sprotagonist. As a boy, Pip wishes to be a gentleman. With unknown help fromMagwitch the convict, Pip’s dreams come true. After attaining his fortune andhis expectations, Pip is miserable.
“As I had grown accustomed to myexpectations, I had intensibly begun to notice their effect upon myself andthose around me.” 305. He noticed the negative effects as he was in debtbecause of his lavish spending and he also realized how much he neglected Joeand Biddy, his two best friends as a kid. In the end, Pip changes as he becomesa loyal friend to Magwitch in his time of need, tries to repair his relationshipwith Joe and Biddy, and goes from almost total destruction to moderate businesssuccess.
He also shows how people gain from giving. The only good fortune fromthe money he received from his private benefactor, Magwitch, was giving it toHerbert.As shown from the examples above, symbolism plays an important part in CharlesDickens Great Expectations.
Many symbols such as isolation, manipulation, thetragic hero, and wanting to be someone else are present throughout the novel andare brought to life by the characters. People in today’s society must realizethat a lot of what we do symbolizes something about us and helps explain who weare as people.