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Great Expectations

 

Men are but simple creatures; consequently, when faced with a being that we believe to be far superior to ourselves, there are but a few options allowed to us. Under various circumstances, situations can arise where we praise or envy those that we believe to be superior. However, under the unalterable conditions that Pip, from Great Expectations was under the influence of, there is the possibility of neither praise nor envy arising, but love. Pip is but a common boy, a blacksmiths apprentice whose hands are both course and common, the complexion of Pip is not through his own doing, but rather due to inevitable circumstances. He therefore shares with humanity the common dream: to move up in the standings of society and social class. Part of this core and essential dream is Estella; therefore, love of this core and essential dream, is also given to Estella. In this novel, it is surely not love of Estella’s emotions, character, or personality that Pip adores, because he would have otherwise surely been better off with Biddy. Therefore, Pip must love Estella’s uncommonness, her composure, her posture, and her stunning beauty that Pip finds irresistible.

One cannot love unconditionally: worship, love, adulation, and exaltation must all have their respective limits, for it is impossible to love someone who violates every single one of your virtues and beliefs. Therefore the question of how Pip could love “against reason, against promise, [and] against peace”, a figurative cold-blooded murderer of hearts, of love, and of human kindness, such as Estella, arises. The answer, however, comes quite readily: circumstances. The restraining circumstance which bounds Pip to Estella lies within the context of the previously mentioned core and essential dream. It must be remembered that dreams of course, go beyond reason, cause the betrayal of promises, and forfeit the dreamer’s tranquility. Dreams of “indescribable majesty and […] charm” (467) that still remained even after “The freshness of [Estella’s] beauty was indeed gone”, were the dreams of a once young Pip who fantasized about what it would be like to not have course hands and to not be a common peasant. While the old chap, Pip, surely matures and grows, it is clear that his dream does not come of age, and does therefore not fade into the but petty existence of memories which no longer influence our actions. However, considering this is not a Hollywood Movie, we must remember that even dreams have but limited influence upon the mind. Just because I want to be a pirate and have sword fights, does not necessarily mean I am going to actually go and become one. But then again, think of a particular day “struck out […], and think how different [life’s] course would have been. Pause, you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day” (68). It is because of this restricting “chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers”, that Pip loves Estella against himself.


          

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