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Great Expectations Love Quotes

"If I could only get myself to fall in love ... with you – you don't mind my speaking so openly to such an old acquaintance?"
"Oh dear, not at all!" said Biddy. "Don't mind me."
"If I could only get myself to do it, that would be the thing for me."
"But you never will, you see," said Biddy. (1.17.53-56)

Thought: This is Pip at his most charming. We love it when someone tells us that he wishes he could force himself to fall in love with us in order to solve all of his problems. We can’t help but feel like cough medicine or some other concoction meant to provide a cure. In this moment, Pip identifies his inability to control love as well as the way in which he has been blinded by love. He is so blind that he can’t see that Biddy is affected by his confession. Both Pip and Biddy are afflicted with unrequited love at this moment.


The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with ... the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. Once for all; I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. Once for all; I loved her nonetheless because I knew it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection. (2.29.2)

Thought: So, Pip is not necessarily in love with Estella, but he may just be in lust with Estella? He sees her faults clear as day, but he has not power over this love/list. Even though loving Estella promises sadness, destruction, and pain, Pip cannot help but be drawn to her. She’s like a Siren from Homer’s Odyssey. She’s impossible to resist, and there’s something a little out of the ordinary or fantastical about the strength of her power over Pip.


"I have not bestowed my tenderness anywhere. I have never had any such thing." (2.29.75)

Thought: According to Estella, she has never loved anything in her life. Not even her jewels. As readers, we never really ever get to know Estella, because the extent of her relationship with Pip is a few card games, some dark passage ways, and brief, cryptic conversations in which she tells Pip to stop loving her. Estella is almost inhuman or robotic in her lack of humanness, in her coldness, and in her lack of emotion.


Before I could answer (if I could have answered so ... difficult a question at all), she repeated, "Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!" (2.29.85)

Thought: Pip is Miss Havisham’s puppet, and Miss Havisham is acting out the revenge that she has for so long wanted to take on her former fiancée. In this moment, Miss Havisham is like a wound-up toy that is malfunctioning – all the wires are popping out and it’s beginning to smoke. She works herself into a frenzy as she manipulates Pip’s emotions. To Miss Havisham, love seems to be both unattainable and the tool that she uses to wound those around her.


She said the word often enough, and there could be ... no doubt that she meant to say it; but if the often repeated word had been hate instead of love – despair – revenge – dire death – it could not have sounded from her lips more like a curse. (2.29.88)

Thought: When love is spoken of in Satis House, the opposite of love is always invoked (silently). Perhaps love is not love without hatred and sorrow present as well. The Roman poet, Ovid, once said, "love is a kind of warfare," and, indeed, love always seems to be followed by destruction in the world of Great Expectations.


"Told me! You have never told me when you have ... got your hair cut, but I have had senses to perceive it. You have always adored her, ever since I have known you. You brought your adoration and your portmanteau here, together. Told me! Why, you have always told me all day long. When you told me your own story, you told me plainly that you began adoring her the first time you saw her, when you were very young indeed." (2.30.21)

Thought: Try as he might, Pip cannot hide his big, big love for Estella. This passage might not strike our modern sensibilities as being strange, but in a Victorian society, when everything pertaining to sex and love was suppressed, repressed, and contained to tea-time banter and glove-stealing, the fact that Herbert not only notices Pip’s love but names Pip’s love is kind of remarkable. This naming indicates Herbert’s knack for keeping it real and it also reinforces just how far gone Pip is. Again, we wonder how Pip can hang such passion upon a woman who is as cold as a glacier.


By degrees she led me into more temperate talk, and ... she told me how Joe loved me, and how Joe never complained of anything – she didn't say, of me; she had no need; I knew what she meant – but ever did his duty in his way of life, with a strong hand, a quiet tongue, and a gentle heart. (2.35.40)

Thought: As opposed to Pip’s feverish, inconsistent, and irrational love of Estella, we are here presented with Joe’s even, constant, and unconditional love of Pip. The two kinds of love contrast with each other heavily.


"At least I was no party to the compact," said ... Estella, "for if I could walk and speak, when it was made, it was as much as I could do. But what would you have? You have been very good to me, and I owe everything to you. What would you have?" "Love," replied the other. "You have it." "I have not," said Miss Havisham. (2.38.36-39)

Thought: Here we stumble upon a third kind of love, a love that is all-consuming in a different way, in a conditional way. Miss Havisham creates the monster Estella in order to carry out her plans for revenge, but the monster turns on its creator and bears no love for the creator. The creator is therefore wounded by the missile she has built. Having raised Estella, bought her pretty things, given her all her jewels, Miss Havisham expects Estella to love her in return.


"Estella," said I, turning to her now, and trying to ... command my trembling voice, "you know I love you. You know that I have loved you long and dearly." (3.44.37)

Thought: Just as Pip questions Miss Havisham’s definition of "love" when she employs the word, hearing darker connotations in the sound of it, we can’t help but think that when Pip uses the word "love" here, he means something else. When we hear him profess his love in such a way, we can’t help but think of the love he’s thrown away and how that love is so very different from this love. Great Expectations is like a library full of little books about different kinds of love.


"Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, ... part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since - on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!" (3.44.70)

Thought: This is pretty much one of the best love speeches ever. What’s interesting is that in describing his love to Estella, he grounds this description in images of nature and of the landscape that surrounds him. Estella is superhuman in his eyes; she is found in the very particles around him. Here Pip maturely grasps the irrationality of his love and reasserts his philosophy that humans are innately good, and that Estella is innately good.