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Notes on Great Expectations Themes

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Great Expectations Topic Tracking: Love

Love 1: The home Pip grows up in, under the domineering hand of Mrs. Joe, isn't exactly bursting with love. Only Joe seems to translate his love for Pip into kind behavior.

Love 2: Miss Havisham and her ruined old bridal chambers suggest that Manor House is a place where love has a bad name and little chance of thriving.

Love 3: Miss Havisham's words of encouragement to Estella--"Break their hearts, my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!" (109)--suggest that she's using Estella as a conduit for revenge on men.

Love 4: Pip and Biddy are very honest with each other, and it seems obvious that they should fall in love. But Pip has grown helplessly devoted to Estella, and he realizes his expectations are too great--as with blacksmithing, he knows loving Biddy might very well make him feel like he's settling for less than what he really wants.

Love 5: Herbert's story of Miss Havisham, how she was swindled for her money and abandoned on her wedding day, explains why she is so resolutely bitter about love.

Love 6: The love Wemmick shows for his father, the Aged P, suggests that love may be a more viable emotion at home than in the world of business and money.

Love 7: When Pip is separated from Estella, he realizes that he loves her beyond reason. His love is illogical, as well, because Estella has never given Pip one reason to believe she shares his feelings.

Love 8: When Pip and Estella return to Miss Havisham's together, the old woman's behavior makes it clear that she takes a perverse delight in having made an irresistible, yet loveless girl out of Estella.

Love 9: Estella begins to realize what Miss Havisham's done. In teaching her to be proud and harsh to others, the old woman has made Estella largely incapable of love.

Love 10: Pip isn't able to confess his love to Estella until he realizes that they are not destined to be together in some master plan of Miss Havisham's. He's given up hope that she could return his love, and can now only regret he didn't say something sooner.

Love 11: Miss Havisham finally realizes she's done wrong, that there can be no revenge against love. She's wasted her life being miserable, and probably ruined Estella's life by making her incapable of having a loving relationship. At last, Miss Havisham seems to regret her actions.

Love 12: Pip comes to love Magwitch for his sweetness and his generosity. He's miserable at the thought of Magwitch's death, and on his benefactor's deathbed, does Magwitch the kindness of reassuring him that his daughter is alive and loved by Pip himself.

Love 13: Biddy is right in the end--Pip can't love her. She and Joe, however, do find love, and their happiness, for Pip, is very consoling.

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