Pip and Estella: Expectations of Love

Jennifer Gribble


From the time he first sees her at Satis House, Estella is, for Pip, the source of his most intense feelings, the centre of the dreams and hopes that are to give his great expectations their deepest meaning. And yet, this "centre" is generally regarded as the weakest aspect of Great Expectations-Dickens being notoriously inadequate in his dealings with love between men and women, and Estella, it would seem, lacking not only a heart but also other flesh-and-blood characteristics that might establish her as a credible object of Pip's affections. Furthermore, there is some doubt that it is actually Estella who inspires Pip's feelings: "he doesn't love her, she is unlovable and unloving, he only loves what she represents for him". At any rate, his feelings for her are decidedly curious-romantic, self-lacerating and impotent to a degree that Dickens, it is often argued, does not see.

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