Many professors, analysts, and common readers believe that Great Expectations was possibly the best work of Charles Dickens. Perhaps it was because of the diverse themes displayed by Dickens, which modulate as the story progresses. A clear example of the measures taken by the author to create diversity, is the application of irony. Dickens uses Rony to create suspense and conflict in plot events related to Estella, Miss Havisham, the convict, Joe, and Mrs. Joe.
The relationship between Pip and Estella is very complex and ironic. It keeps the reader entertained, with the humor of sophisticated children. A major irony, of situation, occurs when Estella kisses Pip after insulting and degrading him. The reader becomes confused with Estella’s actions and feels sympathy for Pip. The confusion causes conflict, which keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. On page 104 Estella says, “Come here! You may kiss me, if you like.” This is something unexpected, which livens up the story.
Dickens portrays Miss Havisham in a very unique way. There is a dramatic irony between Miss Havisham and Pip. It is ironic how she wanted to watch him become miserable, just because he is of the male gender, and ironically she grew to like him. She even paid for part of Pip’s expenses for the partnership. Yet what is more ironic is that Miss Havisham does not praise herself for the good deed. In the beginning of the novel, Miss Havisham displayed a harsh, cold attitude toward Pip. This is displayed in her deceptive act on page 69, where she says, “Well, you can break his heart?” As the novel ends Miss Havisham’s attitude completely changes. She realizes the pain she has caused Pip and apologizes to him. Because of her positive change, she becomes more likeable to the audience.
A third person to have an odd effect on Pip is the convict. One of the greatest examples of irony is brought out, in the sudden confrontation between Pip and the convict. On page 12, the convict speaks to Pip, ” Get me a file.” Pip listens to the convict and brings him food and a file. It is ironic how a simple task such as this, changed Pip’s life forever. Pip obeyed the man, and later in life the man repaid him. It is ironic how the convict takes from Pip, then later gives back.
Great Expectations: Pip’s Transition
In the novel, Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens the principal character, Pip, undergoes a tremendous change in character. I would like to explore with you the major incidents in Pip’s childhood that contribute to his change from an innocent child to someone consumed by false values and snobbery.
Pip’s transition into snobbery is, I believe, a steady one from the moment that he first meets Miss Havisham and Estella. Even before that Pip started to his fall from innocence when he steals from his sister to feed and free “his” convict. But that was not easy for young Pip as his conscience played on him as he heard the floor boards screaming in vain attempts to alert Mrs. Joe. It is obvious that Pip was not comfortable doing this deed for “his” convict as he thought for a while before taking the pork pie, which was so appreciated by Magwitch.
At Satis House it is almost straight away made clear to him from Estella’s language, that she considers him to be inferior. It is here that, he is for the first time introduced to a girl whom he is later to fall madly in love with. It is here that he is referred to only as boy. It is here that he forms his “Great Expectations”.
From these experiences Pip finds out about what he considers polite society, but Satis House is a place where society is anything but polite. This is exemplified by Estella’s blatant lack of regard for Pip’s feelings; she points out to him for the first time his faults such as his “coarse hands…. thick boots” and the fact that he is nothing but “a common labouring boy”. This not only points out Pip’s own faults but also leads to his awareness of Joe’s.
Estella is the main incident in Pip’s life that ultimately leads to his obnoxious and contemptible behavior in the future. This is because of his love for her, even after their first encounter he describes Estella as “very pretty” yet “very insulting”. Unperturbed by this description, Estella continues her disgraceful treatment of the young and impressionable boy when she feeds, and treats him as if he were an animal, continuing to address him like an animal, she does not bother to learn his name, still referring to as boy.
She also confuses him; when he fights with the young Herbert Pocket he is permitted to kiss the beautiful young girl, but then she slaps him, knocking him back and shocking him.