The Name “Estella” in Great Expectations

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The Name “Estella” in Great Expectations


The name of the characters in a Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations, is very important. In the case of Estella, the name indicates her personality, her relation with other characters and even the way in which she moves along the novel.

            In Spanish, the word for star is “estrella”.  Since Spanish is a “romance” language, estrella is undoubtedly derived from the Latin word for star.  Stars are cold but beautiful to see. The same is true for Estella: she has a cold personality but she is very pretty. Estella was given to Miss Havisham at night - which is when stars appear. The first time Estella appears is in chapter 8, in the Pip’s first visit to Miss Havisham's house. The first impression Pip has about Estella is also characterized by ambiguity: he thinks she is pretty but she is proud. Miss Havisham obliges Estella to play cards with Pip. The first time that the card game appears the battle of sexes occurs since, after her frustrated marriage, Miss Havisham educates Estella to scorn men and in the card game Miss Havisham wants to see a victory of a woman over a man. Estella wins but the most important thing here is that Estella does not want to play with Pip because she thinks he is common. This shows the pride and the superiority in which Estella is presented in her relation to Pip, and it's also important because, from this moment, Pip wants to be educated to be at the same level that Estella – he hopes that he can reach out and touch a star.

Stella (without the first 'e') is the name of Sydney's beloved. Probably he gave his beloved this name because she was married in the real life and so, he could not reach her. Stars are far away and they cannot be reached. In the novel, Estella is presented as an impossible dream for Pip. In the same way Pip has expectations in a material level, Estella would be Pip's love expectation.

In Christianity, the star is related to the Virgin Mary. Stars are also used for orientation, to guide us at night. In the novel, Estella appears as a light, it is Pip's orientation and he always has her in his mind.

            If we look at the sky we can see different kinds of stars.

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"The Name “Estella” in Great Expectations." 26 Mar 2017

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One of them is a star that moves and shines in an intermittent way. That's Estella's movement in the novel. Joe, who is always in the countryside, and Mr. Jaggers, who is always in London, are characters who appear in series of chapters. In contrast to this, Estella appears in that intermittent way. Estella is also intermittent in the way in which Estella's story is presented by the different accounts of several characters.

                                    We have to give a jump to chapter 29 for the following appearance of Estella. Nevertheless, in the previous chapter, when Pip is told that Estella has come back and she would be glad to see him, Pip goes immediately to Miss Havisham's. In his coach, where he's thinking about Estella, two convicts go with him. This contrast is curious and we will see another contrast of the same kind later. In this chapter, Pip finds Estella very changed and prettier, Estella also thinks Pip is very changed. Estella has come back from France and now she has to go to London. When Estella and Pip go for a walk she recognizes she doesn't remember she hit him in one occasion and she also admits she has no heart. After this, Pip thinks he's still an inferior being compared to Estella – the star is still very far away. Later, Miss Havisham tells him that Estella has been educated to be loved and that night Pip dreams of marrying Estella.

An important chapter is chapter 38. At this moment of the narration we have the discussion between Miss Havisham and Estella. Miss Havisham tells Estella that she has forgotten her and Estella, who gives Miss Havisham the treatment of “mother in adoption,” thinks that's not true. The old lady asks for Estella's love and she answers she has not been educated to love, emotion is something she can not feel. In spite of this new proof of Estella's coldness, Pip is jealous when he sees Estella flirting with Drummle and Estella tells Pip she will not deceive him, she has been educated to make men suffer but she is incapable to do any harm to Pip. Pip is blinded by his love for Estella, he has gotten too close to the star and is blinded by its light; he's incapable of seeing that Estella can not feel any emotion.

            In the last chapter of the novel when we see the consequence of Estella's rejection of Pip’s love. Pip meets Estella in Satis’ House. Pip thinks Estella has lost part of her beauty. Both of them talk and Estella recognizes she has thought about Pip. Due to Drummle's bad treatment, Estella has learned to value what she had. All this takes place in a very peculiar setting: at night, with the stars are shining and in a ruined house. It’s a very clear pathetic fallacy that comes to represent what they have become with the passing of time. They have not fulfilled their own expectations.

            The great lesson Estella learns is that goodness does not come from a high social rank, it comes from inner nature. As a star is a heavenly body that has its own light. Estella is a cold character who has a positive inner quality, which is honesty. Estella is an example of how a woman, with good inner principles, has been a human failure because of the bad education she has received.

1.      Underline titles of novels.

2.      You begin your paper with an interesting topic, discussing the various meanings and consequences of the name, Estella.  However, the second half of your paper is devoted to Estella’s plot summary.  If you intended the second half to defend your statements in the beginning of the novel, then you should have put the two together. 

3.      You should explain your statements concerning the various meanings of the name, Estella.  You do explain how she is cold and beautiful although you do so later in the paper.  You also explain how she is unreachable but you never explain how she is a guide to Pip nor how she is intermittent.  Where in the novel is she a guide to Pip? Where does she take him, meaning just how does his life progress because of her as his guide?  What exactly do you mean by intermittent?  All of these questions could have been discussed in your paper instead of writing out the plot summary. 

4.      Your thesis statement should also give a descriptive outline of what you will discuss in your paper.  The name, Estella, indicates that character’s beauty with a cold personality, Pip’s inability to reach her, her role as a guide and her intermittent appearances in the novel.   This example of a descriptive thesis statement tells us exactly what you are going to discuss in the novel.

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