Holding Their Oppressors Accountable: Pip and Catherine II

One of the connexions that I was particularly interested in was Pip’s condemnation of Miss Havisham’s duplicity and his hope that Estella will leave Drummle behind to Catherine II’s animosity and outrage concerning Heathcliff’s treatment of Hareton in Wuthering Heights. One of the things that I realised these two characters have in common is that they both have come to terms with the truth and want nothing more than to free their loved ones from the manipulation of their superiors. 

In chapter 44 of Great Expectations, Pip takes his newfound knowledge about his benefactor straight to Miss Havisham and condemns her for leading him on and coercing Estella into an unhappy marriage, for the sake of petty vengeance. This is precisely the same manner Catherine II forges her alliance with Hareton in Wuthering Heights. After having suffered directly from the hands of Heathcliff and has become accustomed to his cruel, tyrannical behavior, Catherine II implores Hareton to advance his station by informing him of the displacement that Heathcliff has caused him. Whether this is out of spite for Heathcliff, genuine love for Hareton, or perhaps a combination of both- Pip’s actions are directly informed by his infatuation with Estella. Interestingly enough, both Estella and Hareton react in the same manner- and while they acknowledge that they have been wronged, they do not hold their oppressors accountable. Estella claims that her marriage to Drummle is of her own will, her own doing and Hareton, on numerous occasions, chastises Catherine II when he believes her tone regarding Heathcliff borders disrespect or treachery. 

These parallels, among many others throughout Dickens’ novels, nonetheless makes me curious about the extent to which he was familiar with the tropes of Bronte’s novel, or whether or not these narrative techniques are normative for novels written during the Victorian era.

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