Saturday, February 13, 2010

Influence of Biddy and Estella on Pip in 'Great Expectations'

In Dickens’s Great Expectations, we find throughout the novel the hero, Pip, learns through sufferings. He develops and gets maturity through society, through the development of his selfhood, and his realization of which people actually cares about him. Pip would not have to worry about any of these issues if it were not for Estella’s influence in his life. the influence of Biddy is also not less important from moral point of view.

At the beginning we see him as a naive but after meeting with Estella, Pip has completely changed. It is the turning point of his life when he first meets with her. So, Estella displays an enormous power over his thinking unlike Biddy. But the influence of Biddy is more admirable than Estella. Biddy is always pleasing to him whereas, Estella is always tormenting to him. After, the meeting with Estella Pip becomes ambitious, whereas from Biddy he gets practical preparation for his future life. So, it is seen that the influence of Biddy and Estella on Pip is very far-reaching which will be clearer in the later discussion. There are marked gaps in their 1st meeting, their family bond and their treatment with Pip. When Pip first meets with Biddy, she is presented as Mr. Wopsele’s great-aunt’s grand daughter, and helps her grandmother run the evening school. An orphan girl live Pip, she is rather bedraggled in appearance in early day, her hair always wanting brushing and her shoes mending. However, Biddy’s appearance and manner improve as she grows up. When Mrs. Joe is assaulted, Biddy moves into Joe’s household as her attendant. In this novel, she also shares the quality of compassion, simplicity, self respect etc. This dignified caring attitude of Biddy is contrasted with the self-seeking, selfishness of Estella who wishes to use or flatter Pip for her own ends.

Estella is the daughter of Magwitch, a convict, and Molly, a servant for Jaggers. Although her roots are extremely common, she is raised in nobility because M. Havisam adopts her. She is the tool of M. Havisam to destruct the male hosts. When Pip first meets her he immediately overwhelmed noticing her pretty grown hair and her manner, though she is in fact about the same age he is. She despises the coarse ways of the common laboring boy Pip, but ironically Pip falls in love with her. Before meeting with her, Pip never realizes that anything could be wrong, or that there could be anything might need to change. After the meeting, Pip now begins to question everything in life. She sets a struggle between Pip’s personal ambition and his discontent, which Biddy teaches Pip the error of his ways and shows that being common is not so bad.

Biddy is gentle, sympathetic, and kind-hearted to Pip. She is much more realistic and self-controlled in her emotions than he is and can see his faults. When on a Sunday afternoon walk on the marshes he tells Biddy that he wants to be gentleman and why she gives him sensible advice. She tells him that Estella is not worthy of his love and he should not live his life to please her. She also says that indifference can work more than an active nature or feigned love for strategic purposes. In this way, she tries her best to instill realism in Pip. On the other hand, Stella’s beauty leads him to fall indirectly into Miss Havisham’s trap and he tries to change himself to have a chance with Stella. In Pip’s youth the feelings of guilt and shame continue in his way to become a gentleman to win Estella and achieve his ambition, which leads him to enhance embarrassment for Pip. He gradually more aware and ashamed of Joe’s limitations, especially his illiteracy and his lack of social ease who is actually the best sole model he has.

Pip does not want to be seen around the forge, especially for Estella. He feels depressing particularly by the thought that Estella might see him there. Later, when Pip receives his great expiations, he automatically assumes that the expectations come from M.H. and Estella is expected in these expectations. Pip thinks that he has to become a gentleman for Estella. Because of this, he begins to look down upon Joe when Joe meets with him in London. He terms Joe as stupid and common. So, we see that because of Estella’s influence, he begins to become what he thinks a gentleman should be. But his decision proves wrong, as he starts to grow within a false modesty, gentility etc. He has become so blind by the false inspiration of M.H that he even does not see the hollowness behind it. She inspires him to love Estella. He can do nothing but follow M.H’s orders as he begins to believe that after obeying her, he will get Estella.

Pip holds on to the dream of having Estella until he finds out that she is marrying Drummle. At this moment all of his hopes for Estella are rushed. His self-deception about gentleman and his hope of getting Estella lead to another Pip. He now begins to realize what a horrible man he has become, and that he has shunned all who really care for him. His utterance: “I wish I had never left the forge” shows his moral regeneration.

At an early stage of life, when Pip is raw and unfeeling enough, he could tell Biddy that he loved her if his inspirations had not stood in the way. Now at this middle age of his life, purged by his various experiences and trials, he grows into an awareness of Biddy’s true nature. At the end of the novel, he hopes to go his old home on the marches, to marry Biddy and perhaps to return to work in the forge with Joe. Later when he finally come his village he is struck seeing that she is married with Joe. Then he realizes his own faults, that she too is a person in her own right, with her own desires and feelings. In this way, Biddy helps to reveal Pip’s growing snobbery.

At the end of the novel, we see Estella and Pip, meet at the old Satis-House when they are both very changed from their past. Pip is over Estella, out of money, and has full respect for Joe and Biddy. Estella too has learned from her sufferings and has become a wiser person, able to understand Pip.