Isolation and exile in Great Espectaitions

I will be discussing the ending scene of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and how the different themes within the ending attribute to the biblical story of the fall of man. To fully encapsulate the various similarities between the biblical story and that told by Dickens, you first have to start at the beginning. In the beginning of Great Expectations, Pip and Estella are portrayed as the young and innocent individuals. This mirrors the beginning of the story of the fall of man where pure and perfect Adam and Eve live in the garden of Eden together. The story of the fall of man continues on to have the two, Adam and Eve, tempted by the snake with the promise of knowledge only to end up as impure beings and to be exiled from the perfect garden that they were created in. I believe that in Great Expectations, Magwitch is representative of the snake who tempts Pip into helping him only to give him his wealth in the end. This wealth then in turn leads to his fall in morality and overall treatment of others making him the impure man. His exile from the garden can be represented by the ending in that it ends with him and Estella alone in the graveyard together. The fog in this scene is used to further represent the isolation of the two from the rest of the world and Pips statement about never seeing a future without Estella mirrors the story of man in which Adam and Eve are left to find their way through a new world with only each other for company. This, I believe, represents how they alone are left to carry the burden of their mistakes and the choices they have made through their lives. While Joe’s wife may have met her “divine justice” in receiving a major head injury that left her unable to continue to abuse Pip and Joe, Pip and Estella are forced to be alone with each other till the end. 

3 thoughts on “Isolation and exile in Great Espectaitions”

  1. I liked reading your comparison to the story of the fall of man, but I would have loved to see you expand on certain points. How are Pip and Estella both portrayed as innocent in the beginning? Personally, I might argue that Estella is more of a villain, especially in the beginning, and that she might be seen as an extension of the trauma Pip endures from his sister. I also don’t think that Magwitch is very much like the snake, because he spent years earning his wealth for the purpose of giving it to Pip so that Pip would have a better life, not to cause him harm. In the Bible story, the snake gives Adam and Eve his knowledge to cause them to sin and be rejected by God. I also think there’s more to explore of the idea that Pip and Estella are siblings in a way, and what this means for their relationship, and the overall themes of the novel. If they can be considered siblings, this brings up a question of a parallel between Estella and Mrs. Joe, because both are abusive to Pip, at least initially. Therefore, the two relationships can be seen as a commentary on the nature of these types of relationships. It also brings up interesting questions about the nature of Pip and Estella’s relationship, and complicates the idea that they end up in a romantic relationship at the end of the novel.

  2. I think this is an extremely interesting take on the strained relationship between Pip and Estella, as well as the role that Magwitch plays in each character’s life. I want to know more about how Estella’s character parallels that of Eve in the Bible. In Genesis, Eve is first to be deceived by the serpent, and she leads Adam down the same path of deception and ultimately causes their exile from the Garden of Eden. Could you possibly find ways in which Estella is deceived by Magwitch and causes Pip to fall into the same trap? I would love to see how Estella and Magwitch mirror Eve and the serpent.

  3. I am writing about isolation in my Essay, but I was surprised to find you pointing it out at the end of the novel. I love the Adam and Eve reading, but I am more partial to Havisham being the snake, since she corrupts Estella and then Estella corrupts Pip. It seems to me, however, that at the end of the Novel Pip, if not Estella as well, has been cured of his corruption. He has family at home and friends he lives seemingly happy with abroad and Estella is only an ominous character at the end to me, because I can’t tell if she’s going to corrupt him again.

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