Many characters face imprisonment in the novel Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. This essay explores those imprisonments, be they literal or figurative.
"'Keep still you little devil or I'll cut your throat!'
A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg."
Early on in the novel Great Expectations, Dickens introduces the concept of imprisonment, a theme that is subtly intertwined throughout the story. In this first part, the man who is speaking is imprisoned by his leg iron. The person being spoken to is imprisoned by the threats of the other.
Pip, the protagonist of Great Expectations, and also the person being threatened in the above quote, suffers from imprisonment on a day to day basis. As a child, he has a frightening encounter with an escaped convict. He carries the imprisonment of the many lies and secrets he must keep to himself as a result of this experience.
As an adolescent, he has to suffer the imprisonment of his social class. He routinely laments about his chosen career as a blacksmith, since Estella looks down upon his for it. Pip's "prisons" are the ones that affect the tone of the book the most.
Estella suffers from various "prisons" as well. Miss Havisham is an obvious one. Miss Havisham totally controls all the thought processes in Esteem's head. Estella is brainwashed to have "no heart." In this way, Estella is also her own prison. Her inability to feel emotions ultimately leads to her downfall. She marries Bentley Drummle because he does not expect her to feel anything towards him. Unfortunately, the marriage is an unpleasant and abusive one.
Miss Havisham is in the most torturous prison of all, because it eventually ends up taking her life. Ever since she received that fated...