Many characters within the world's greatest stories are trapped by unalterable events or circumstances over which they have absolutely no control. These characters feel contained, isolated and have inner fears that they dare not share with others. They become set upon a certain course in life they had no intention of travelling upon, often because of the desires of another character, or events that forecast their lives entirely. In the novel Great Expectations, the character of Estella was that of an individual whose course in life was predetermined by circumstances and events over which she had no control.
Estella was trapped early in her life by her forced relocation from her mother and father to a life with Miss Havisham, an eccentric, rich, old woman. As a child, Estella's parents, Abel Magwitch, a man convicted of several crimes, and Molly, a murderer, faced many difficulties, both with each other and with the law.
Molly had already taken her daughter from Magwitch, forbidding him to see her for reasons not entirely revealed in the novel. When Molly was later tried for murder, she was defended by a lawyer named Mr. Jaggers, who within the same period of time happened to have been dealing with Miss Havisham. Havisham was looking for a child at the time, a girl in particular. After putting two and two together, Jaggers arranged to have Estella sent to Havisham's residence, seeing an opportunity to save her from living a life with a mother who didn't truly love her and was in enough trouble as it was. Jaggers knew that Molly had committed the crime she was accused of, but would do his best to defend her. He realized that if she received a guilty verdict, it would be prudent to have the child live with someone else. Jaggers recounted his last conversation with Molly as Estella's mother before the trial, in which he brought up the issue of allowing Estella to leave her and live with an adoptive mother: "Part with the child, unless it should be necessary to produce it to clear you, and then it shall be produced. Give the child into my hands, and I will do my best to bring you off. If you are saved, your child will be saved, too; if you are lost, your child is still saved."Ã¯Â¿Â½ (c.51, p.416) Molly was defended well by her lawyer and was found innocent. She proceeded to become Mr. Jaggers' housekeeper in repayment for all he had done for her. Estella was taken from her mother and delivered to Satis House where her life was to be altered completely. From these events, Estella was trapped into a life with the miserable Miss Havisham.
Estella was further trapped by Miss Havisham and her unusual methods of parenting that resulted in a contained and isolated life for her adoptive daughter. Estella knew nothing of her former life, but only the one at Satis House, Havisham's ruined residence. She was brought up by Miss Havisham as a weapon to wreak havoc on the male sex. This was mainly for one reason: a man, the fiancÃÂÃÂ©e of the miserable Miss Havisham, had jilted her on her wedding day years ago, and it had affected her every moment since. Estella was cruelly designed to be a cold-hearted, emotionless woman to do unto men what a man had done to Miss Havisham. Estella was often thrown in the way of men by Havisham, including Pip, the protagonist of Great Expectations. Her adoptive mother would not cease to torment Estella's possible suitors by thrusting her into the paths of men who admired her beauty, only to have Estella abandon them, much as Havisham's fiancÃÂÃÂ©e did to her. Estella had been so trapped by her upbringing that she knew what she was doing to these men, yet she continued to do it, as she felt it was normal. She went as far as to ward Pip off, as she cared somewhat more for him than the others. When she met him for the first time in years after their being apart, she warned him of her upbringing, of how she could not do anything but break his heart as she was meant to: "You must know that I have no heart...oh! I have a heart to be stabbed in or shot in, I have no doubt, and, of course, if it ceased to beat, I should cease to be.
But you know what I mean. I have no softness there, no--sympathy--sentiment--nonsense."Ã¯Â¿Â½ (c.29, p. 238) Through Miss Havisham's selfish desires, Estella was trapped into an emotionless life she did not want to lead, denying her a potential life filled with friends, changing emotions and ultimately, happiness.
Finally, Estella was trapped by her own personal obligations to Miss Havisham. Estella felt she had owed Miss Havisham for all she had done for her, considering she had taken her in and raised her as her own child. Furthermore, she came to rely upon Miss Havisham for financial support as she had no source of income herself. To allow this support from her adoptive mother to continue, Estella had to do as she was told. Estella was, as mentioned before, repeatedly thrust into the lives of other men by Miss Havisham, the purpose being to simply abandon them later. Pip was one of them and Estella found herself to have been a puppet in Miss Havisham's play, playing opposite her childhood companion in repetitive scenes. She related this information to Pip upon their initial meeting in London, explaining how she was made to rely upon her adoptive mother, and how they had no choice but to do as they were told: "We have no choice, you and I, but to obey our instructions.
We are not free to follow our own devices, you and I."Ã¯Â¿Â½ (c.33, p.266) Pip himself came to the realization that he was a pawn in Miss Havisham's reenactment of her traumatic life much later than Estella. From the beginning of her relationship to Ms. Havisham, Estella was trapped into being too dependent on her and relying too much on her finances.
In conclusion, Estella, the supposed heroine of the great drama that is Great Expectations, was thoroughly entangled in a web of lies and secrets by not being able to live with her own parents, by being brought up to live a life she never wanted to lead, and by being made to rely on others and never achieving independence herself. She suffered what so many characters and real people face every day: entrapment in events and circumstances she could not have prevented or controlled. This lack of freedom resulted in her demeaning and cruel behavior, and ultimately, a sad and miserable life devoid of happiness and riddled with lies.