• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explore the ways in which Estella is presented and developed in Great Expectations

Extracts from this document...


Explore the ways in which Estella is presented and developed in Great Expectations Arguably, Dickens' novels portray the majority of the female characters in an extremely misogynistic light, and the character of Estella is no exception. Whilst modern readers may feel shocked at her portrayal, it is important to consider the Victorian era in which Dickens was writing and how its patriarchal society influenced his works. Estella is heart-breakingly beautiful and yet strikingly pernicious. She is the icy, cruel princess who plants the seeds of dissatisfaction and expectation into the na�ve and impressionable Pip. Her impact upon his life is immeasurable, and is maintained throughout the novel. Her frosty nature is developed through her twisted relationship with Miss Havisham, which defines and dictates not only Estella's character, but also her actions throughout the novel. However, whilst she is ostensibly presented as cold and hostile, she is not the automaton she seems to be, and ultimately, we can view her as a character to be pitied rather that despised. Although she may appear to be a manipulative conductress who intentionally tortures men, she is fundamentally a victim of her society, class and circumstances. Dickens introduces the character of Estella, through the young Pip's perspective, as a "very pretty and...very proud" young girl. Although her age at the time is similar to Pip's, her constant addressing of him as "boy" highlights her condescending attitude towards him, as the plosive sound captures her contempt and disgust of him. ...read more.


Estella, meaning star or love, is a prime example of this. Her name is ambiguous as it denotes several things. She is the "theme that so long filled [Pip's] heart": his thoughts and actions are constantly orbiting around her as if she is his life source, as if she is his star. However, stars do not simply illuminate beauty, but are inwardly destructive forces of energy that are raging and chaotic. Externally, Estella is pulchritudinous but inwardly she is catastrophically destructive, like a star. There is bitter irony in the sense that her name connotes love, yet she is unable to feel love or any other emotion. Estella's inability to love must be acknowledged not to be solely her own fault, as her natural development, from a very young age, was cruelly stifled by Miss Havisham. Her constant instructions to "break their hearts" and the fact that they are whispered into Estella's ears shows the persistent and pernicious guidance that she receives. She lives with these teachings her entire life and is victimised by Miss Havisham. Although readers are often infuriated by Estella's callous actions, we understand, but not necessarily forgive, her behaviour. The image of Miss Havisham embracing Estella "with lavish fondness" is tender and motherly, which undercuts the words that she constantly whispers, like a snake, into Estella's ears. This eventually destroys Estella creating a monster that is unable to love. ...read more.


The plosive sounds of her words reinforce her bitter feelings towards her late husband but also highlight her emphatic tone: she genuinely believes she has changed for the better. The presentation of Estella's character as a woman who takes pleasure in inflicting pain is shocking to contemporary readers. When she was a child she was crafted and controlled by Miss Havisham, but she maintains her cruel nature which infuriates readers. However, we come to empathise with her as we see that she is a victim of Miss Havisham, and genuinely does not know what it is to love. As difficult as heartache and emotions can be, we pity her for not being able to feel them. Dickens realistically explores what happens when society takes a child and oppresses all her natural instincts of self-discovery and awareness, and the result is the memorable creation of Estella. Although her presentation is shocking, her development from a precocious child to a cold, stoic woman is not surprising. Not only is it foreshadowed through Pip's narration, but we can also foresee it in her childhood nature. Nonetheless, Dickens does not present her development as finite, rather she is a work in progress and we witness what, for Estella, is a remarkable change. Thus, we are left with the tentative hope that she will develop some semblance of emotion. Though it may be slow, it will be hard fought for and ultimately won. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Great Expectations section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Great Expectations essays

  1. Great expectation

    While trying to find his way, he discovers shocking facts. The most important one being that Magwitch, the convict, is Pip's benefactor. This confuses Pip because all along he has believed and has been told that Miss Havisham was his benefactor.

  2. Is it possible to feel sympathy for the Miss Havisham and Estella characters in ...

    however there are also a few reasons why we should feel no sympathy for Estella whatsoever, I shall explain them in detail below. Firstly when Estella first meets Pip she makes no effort at all to be civil to him, it is during the same chapter that we get an

  1. An exploration of the ways in which issues of class and status are presented ...

    Hartley may be suggesting that characters should not be judged on their actions, but on their class position, as class position naturally displays those of superior aptitude, and as characters in the novel subvert this, they will find no peace.

  2. Great Expectations - The character of Estella

    To make him like her even more, yet she would never like him. When Estella meets Pip in London, Pip says, "It is impossible for me to avoid seeing that she cared to attract me; that she made herself winning; and would have won me even if the task had needed pains."

  1. How do circumstances cause characters to change?

    I think when the story involves more than one main character you need to use the third person. In Great Expectations, I think it needed to be in the first person because that makes you feel closer to the only main character, Pip.

  2. Lord of the Flies and Great Expectations - How circumstances cause characters to change.

    He makes up lies to his sister and Mr Pumblechook, this is one of the first signs that Pip is now also suddenly becoming increasingly dishonest. Pip realises himself that being dishonest can get him where he wants to be, but Pip has not thought about this expense.

  1. Write about the ways in which Charles Dickens presented the female characters in "Great ...

    Even though not all of Dickens' attitudes reflected what was typical of the period, many did. Great Expectations is a reflection of those attitudes that were most likely encouraged by the women in his life. The female characters physical appearance plays a big part, as it symbolised the personality of each character.

  2. Evaluation of Estella from 'Great Expectations'.

    She took no notice of me until she had the candle in her hand." (Page 74, paragraph4) Can you believe it? Not even a courteous "Hello." Tsk, tsk, tsk. As I said, Estella had been known to be quite mean to the Pipster.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work