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In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens presents Philip Pirrip (Pip), the narrator of the story, as a young common boy who comes into fortune. Set in London and Kent, England around the 1830s, seven-year-old Pip encounters an old convict who threatens him into stealing food and a file. This meeting initiates a series of events that would change Pip’s life, following his elevation of status to his understanding of morals. Different people and different situations force Pip to change perspective throughout various points in his life. Through a wealthy woman, a journeyman, and a convict, Dickens implies that using revenge as a motivating factor often results in more harm to the avenger than to the victim of revenge. Miss Havisham, a rich but eccentric old lady, raises her adoptive daughter Estella into a weapon to exact revenge on men but her plan results in her being unloved and alone until her death. While Miss Havisham originally intended Pip to divert her from her melancholy days, she sees him as a guinea pig for Estella to test on now that Pip’s under her charm. The fact that Pip continuously visits Satis House gives Miss Havisham the chance to constantly divert his attention to Estella’s cold beauty, sometimes whispering, “Break their hearts, my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!”(87) Since a man had broken her heart and swindled her, Miss Havisham finds pleasure and satisfaction in breaking men’s hearts through Estella. By training Estella to humiliate and use men’s affections for her, Miss Havisham wants the victims to suffer broken hearts as she did. Little did she know that her adopted daughter would use her teachings against her, as shown when Estella removes herself from Miss Havisham’s side, prompting the older woman to lash out. Sharp words rise between them, and Estella states, “I am what you have made me. Take all the praise, take all the blame, take all the success, take all the failure; in short, take me”(280). While Miss Havisham seems bewildered by what she deems as a rebellious act, Estella lays it out that she is simply what her “mother of adoption” (281) molded out of an innocent child. Since she was raised to break hearts, Estella applies Miss Havisham’s teachings against even Miss Havisham herself, simply because she’s incapable of loving others. This brings up the point that Miss Havisham’s means of revenge on men also hurts her. Upon Pip’s confession of his deepest feelings regarding Estella, “Estella looked at me merely with incredulous wonder” while Miss Havisham “seemed all resolved into a ghastly stare of pity and remorse”(334). This event opens Miss Havisham’s eyes to what she’s done as she tells Pip, “..I saw in you a looking-glass that showed me what I once felt myself, I did not know what I had done”(367). She acknowledges that her misery has made Pip suffer as well as herself. Since Miss Havisham trains Estella in breaking hearts and being cold to protect her from suffering, Estella has no way of loving without having any sentiments. The most ironic aspect of Miss Havisham is that she raises a heartbreaker after having her own heart broken, which brings her satisfaction but also misery since her adopted child feels nothing for her, exhibiting the evidence that revenge oftentimes ruins the avenger in addition to the victim. Flared by the embers of jealousy and resentment against Pip, a violent and slouchy man named Dolge Orlick desires vengeance to right himself, but his terrible personality gets him in trouble in the end. Although Orlick was formerly Joe’s journeyman, he despises the clear favoritism shown to Pip. He torments Pip ever since the other was a boy, and when Pip asks Joe, his blacksmith brother-in-law, for a half-holiday Orlick intervenes, “Now, master! Come. No favouring in this shop. Be a man!”(104). Mrs. Joe, Pip’s sister, becomes the first victim of Orlick’s deep grudges after they argue, with her insulting him and he saying, “I’d hold you, if you was my wife. I’d hold you under the pump, and choke it out of you”(105). Afterwards, Mrs. Joe becomes seriously ill and dies years later due to her injuries inflicted by Orlick. When Biddy, a clever and wholesome girl, moves into Pip’s household, he makes sure Orlick, who likes Biddy, doesn’t get close to his friend. Later on, Orlick leaves the forge and gets a job at Satis House, but Pip gets him fired. These events cause Orlick’s resentment and anger towards Pip grow, and he attempts to murder Pip. Before any murder happens, though, Orlick spills the truth and reasons of his hate: the attack on Mrs. Joe “was your doing–I tell you it was done through you”(392), the fact that Pip “dared..come betwixt me and a young woman I liked”(390), and that Pip “cost me that place”(390) at Satis House. Orlick exclaims to Pip, “I’m a-going to have your life!”(391). Orlick literally means that he’ll kill Pip, but he also means to take Pip’s place as a well-liked, respectable gentleman which shows his resentment stems from jealousy. Even though the man manages to escape, police capture him afterwards for robbing and torturing the local seedsman, Mr. Pumblechook. What Orlick has here isn’t just deep hatred that’s cruel and scornful, but it’s a petty passion against those who are less miserable than him. These events demonstrate that because of his violent ways, Orlick comes into misfortune due to his need for vengeance instead of righting himself and living properly. Former criminal and convict Abel Magwitch, a man who seeks retribution on his old partner Compeyson for betraying him in court, makes obviously poor choices that greatly impacts his life.  Pip, along with Joe and a unit of soldiers, witness Magwitch and Compeyson fighting in a ditch down by the marshes. Upon being captured, Magwitch asserts that he was trying to detain the other from escaping, fiercely proclaiming, “He lies! He’s a liar born, and he’ll die a liar…Do you see what a villain he is? Do you see those grovelling and wandering eyes? That’s how he looked when we were tried together. He never looked at me”(33). Magwitch risks his chance for freedom by holding up Compeyson. Although he nearly finishes filing off his leg iron, Magwitch gives up escaping to get back at Compeyson, resulting in him being shipped off to New South Wales and receiving a death sentence if he returns. This scuffle in the marsh indicates that revenge prevails over freedom and chance of a new life. Magwitch receives a harsher punishment than Compeyson due to his appearance and past run-ins with the law, and his fury motivates him to retaliate against his traitorous former partner in crime at the expense of his freedom. Another event which demonstrates Magwitch’s poor decision of vengeance over liberty can be seen in the attempted getaway where Pip and his friends try to smuggle Magwitch out of the country on a boat. After seeing that Compeyson stands aboard the four-oared galley that chased them, Magwitch reaches over and grabs the man. When Magwitch resurfaces and comes aboard the galley, he “had received some very severe injury in the chest and a deep cut in the head”(410). Magwitch later dies in jail of  illness and injuries. Having faced the same dilemma of choosing between revenge and freedom twice, Magwitch decides that bringing down Compeyson no matter what satisfies him much more than the prospect of a life void of hiding away. These decisions clearly causes damage to him in the end. For instance, Magwitch sustains fatal injuries from struggling with Compeyson in the river. These wounds gained from his underwater battle ultimately leads to his death, which proves that having revenge as a motive eventually leads to suffering for the person seeking it.  Since Magwitch dies, he loses his chance to see Pip grow even more and possibly even reunite with his family. Magwitch’s life imprisonment and ultimate death signifies how reprisal does not solve conflicts and bring satisfaction but rather leads to adversity. From the numerous pages of Great Expectations, Charles Dickens describes multiple themes and topics involving criminality, morality, identity, and more. Retold from Pip’s perspective, the novel offers readers a whole cast of characters, ranging from major characters like Estella and Magwitch to minor ones like Trabb’s boy and Molly. Yet, each character has their own backstory, their own life, fragments merely sprinkled and spilled into Pip’s life. Three specific people who come from different backgrounds such as Miss Havisham, Dolge Orlick, and Abel Magwitch share one thing in common: their actions driven by the inclination for revenge bring hardships and difficulties. Miss Havisham reclines in her mansion, wasting away in emptiness, and dies unloved by the cold person she raised; Orlick, for his abhorrent nature and hostile acts, serves his sentence in jail; Magwitch, a kind and generous man at heart, dies at peace in his jail cell. While the nature of their reasons for their vengeance vary from pitiful to petty to almost justifiable, those who seek revenge do more harm than good both to themselves and others. As Douglas Horton says, “While seeking revenge, dig two graves–one for yourself,” which pertains to the implication that the path of retribution undoubtedly leads to misfortune.

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