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Great Expectations: Self-Sacrifice

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In Great Expectations, the author uses self-sacrifice as a meaningful symbol. A few characters in the book are continually sacrificing a part of themselves to others or sacrificing physical aspects to others. Characters Magwitch, Pip, Miss Havisham, and Estella are examples of people who self-sacrifice themselves throughout the book. Magwitch, a convict who is wanted by the law, desires to financially aid Pip by converting him into a gentleman; Pip, an innocent boy who has yet to learn about the ways of life, had to sacrifice his time with his family members Joe and Mrs. Joe to move to London to become educated and wealthy; Miss Havisham has sacrificed and devoted her time to getting vengeance on men, one of which made her life miserable; and finally, Estella has given her time and loyalty to Miss Havisham, sacrificing her life to commit to Miss Havisham's wishes. All four of these characters have one characteristic in common: they are self-sacrificing throughout the book.

Pip felt great joy once he received the news that an unknown benefactor was going to convert him into a gentleman. He effortlessly seized the opportunity and traveled to London for education and money. The obvious question that he wanted an answer was from whom did he receive these blessings? It is later introduced in the book that the escaped convict, Magwitch, is the benefactor. Magwitch asserts that he plans to facilitate Pip in becoming a gentleman because of his courage and his trustworthiness when they met previously. Magwitch found him worthy of the wealth that he accumulated, and decided to allocate a large portion of his wealth to Pip. Here, Magwitch greatly self-sacrifices himself by generously giving Pip a portion of his wealth, a physical attribute, considering that he has his own troubles to deal with. Due to Magwitch's self-sacrifice, Pip also self-sacrificed himself because he had to leave his family behind to live a new life in London. Both individuals, due to their sacrifices, have been able to be more philanthropic and warmhearted. Magwitch was a criminal, yet he is helping an innocent boy to become a gentleman and wealthy. Pip realized that his family and friends mean more to him and that he should not take them for granted. He treated them bitterly, but felt extremely guilty, which suggests that he deeply cares for them and wants to be unselfish.

Miss Havisham and Estella are portrayed as cruel individuals who only desire to hurt others mentally. This can be easily seen when Pip meets them for the first time. However, they have self-sacrificed themselves in this book.



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