Positive and Negative Influences in Great Expectations, Les Miserables, and Wuthering Heights

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In any good novel, and even in life, people can be influenced in both positive and negative ways. In the three novels that we have read so far, Great Expectations, Lés Misérables, and Wuthering Heights, the main characters are faced with negative challenges and influences. Positive guides and influences also affect the characters in these books; the positive guides usually end up winning in the end. In Great Expectations, the main character of the story was Pip. Some of the negative influences that Pip faces include poverty, low self-esteem, abuse, fear, and lack of love. The poverty that Pip endured may have been the cause of his low self-esteem, as well as the influence of Estella. Estella influenced Pip by calling him a “common boy,” with “rough hands.” The abuse that Pip suffered from his sister may have also contributed to his lack of self-esteem, as well as the lack of love. An example of Pip being abused was when his sister beat him into telling her what she wanted. Pip’s abuse also contributed to his fear of authority figures (i.e. his sister). Another challenge that Pip was forced to face was that of a convict that he had helped in the beginning of the story; a convict had threatened his life out of a want for food, and Pip brought him food that he had stolen from his kitchen. Pip was wary of helping the convict; after all, he had threatened his life! This nagged at him, but in the end, the convict proved to be a great positive influence; his benefactor. Also, his compassion and love for Estella proved to be a positive as well as negative influence. Pip’s desire for Estella guided him in becoming a “gentleman”; this is an example of existentialism; the belief that any individual assumes the responsibility of their existence, allowing them to control their own destiny. The real influence in his becoming a gentleman was in fact, ironically, the convict; the convict financed his change, while Estella only fueled his desire; without one or both of these essential influences, I believe that Pip would not have become a “gentleman;” although Joe was a good influence, with Estella on his back, he did not realize this. Pip’s change was in response to Estella, he “learned” that he was just a common boy, and thus could be considered both behaviorism and existentialism, while at the same time part of Freudian psychology , because of his love/hatred for common life, and his love/hatred for Estella.

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