Alienation In Great Expectations

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In the novel Great Expectations, Charles Dickens makes many of the main characters suffer by alienation, with each character suffering differently. Pip, the protagonist, seeks to marry Estella, the fair but cruel daughter of Mrs. Havisham, a crazy old lady who had locked herself in a room for twenty years. Pip, feeling that he is of a lower class than Estella, jumps at the opportunity to become a gentleman, and becomes so devoted to becoming a gentleman that although those that he wishes to fit in with look down upon him, he disowns the “lowly” people who truly want to accept him. Estella has been brought up Mrs. Havisham to bring about the doom of all mankind, and she does so by breaking every man’s heart she can get her hands on. However, in doing this she has lost all emotion, and is alienated from other people by her inability to relate to other people. Havisham, who had been showed up on her wedding day, desires to destroy all mankind, but locks herself in a room for twenty years and does not talk to anyone save Estella. In all three examples, the characters are alienated by their desires and their goals. Pip, a sadly ignorant child, was brought up “by hand” by his sister Mrs. Gargery. He illustrates his harsh childhood by saying that “Having at that time to find out for myself what the expression meant, and knowing her to have a hard and heavy hand, and to be much in the habit of laying it upon her husband as well as upon me, I supposed that Joe Gargery and I were both brought up by hand.” (5) Even as a child, because of this harsh upbringing and his somewhat secluded home, he is not able to grow up with the other children and thus, is different from them. He has never played with another child before, and illustrates that when he says to Miss Havisham “If you complain of me I shall get into trouble with mysister, so I would do it if I could; but it's so new
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