Great Expectations: Volume II

15

My favorite passage from Volume II of Great Expectations comes from Chapter XIX. This is near the end of the volume, and Estella, the one whom Pip adores, speaks her mind to her guardian, Miss Havisham. This passage reminds me of Plato’s cave allegory, even if Dickens didn’t mean to directly invoke this image.

“I begin to think,” said Estella, in a musing way, after another moment of calm wonder, “that I almost understand how this comes about. If you had brought up your adopted daughter wholly in the dark confinement of these rooms, and had never let her know that there was such a thing as the daylight by which she has never once seen your face – if you had done that, and then, for a purpose had wanted her to understand the daylight and know all about it, you would have been disappointed and angry?”

Miss Havisham with her head in her hands, sat making a low moaning, and swaying herself on her chair, but gave no answer.

“Or,” said Estella,” – which is nearer a case – if you had taught her, from the dawn of her intelligence, with your utmost energy and might, that there was such a thing as daylight, but that it was made to be her enemy and destroyer, and she must always turn against it, for it had blighted you and would else blight her; if you had done this, and then, for a purpose, had wanted her to take naturally to the daylight and she could not do it, you would have been disappointed and angry?”

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