Essay on The Theme of Imprisonment in Great Expectations

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The Theme of Imprisonment in Great Expectations

The renowned poet, Richard Lovelace, once wrote that "Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage." Although many think of a prison as a physical building or a jailhouse, it can also be a state of mind. A great number of people are imprisoned mentally and emotionally. Charles Dickens expresses this message in his eminent novel, Great Expectations. This book is about a simple laboring boy who grew into a gentleman, and slowly realized that no matter what happened in his life it couldn't change who he was on the inside. On the road to this revelation, Pip meets many incarcerated people. Through these people, Dickens delivers the message that people can be …show more content…

After arriving at this realization, Miss Havisham pleads to Pip, "If you can ever write under my name, `I forgive her,' though ever so long after my broken heart is dust, pray do it!" (370). She is released from her imprisonment by this statement because she realizes that she has caused Pip's heart to be broken in the same manner as her own. Rather than achieving any kind of personal revenge, she has only caused more pain. Miss Havisham comes to this awareness because of Pip's love and forgiveness towards her, reinforcing the novel's theme that people are liberated by their internal confinement by love.

The character Estella is imprisoned within herself because of her inability to love. Ever since Estella was a child when it came to a boy, Miss Havisham taught her to "break his heart" (54). Being taught to break boys' hearts imprisons Estella within herself for she is confined and excluded from others because it is extremely difficult for her to care for or form bonds with people. Estella finally realizes what Miss Havisham has done to her when she tells Pip, "there are sentiments, fancies . . . which I am not able to comprehend. When you say you love me, I know what you mean as a form of words, but nothing more" (336). This statement shows Estella's grief with her total incapability to love or form any emotional attachment to another. This grief is a change in Estella from the coldhearted behavior

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