Great Expectations has always been one of my favorite books. It’s the story of bad choices and broken hearts and discovering what is most important in life. The main character, Pip, is all of us, aspiring for greater things than he has and prioritizing things that he shouldn’t, getting his heart broken by the cruel Estella in the process.
Every time I read Great Expectations, I see how I am Pip. I want things I shouldn’t, I have enough pride to make me feel that I’ve strayed, and I often prejudge people for ridiculous reasons. Great Expectations makes me see my weaknesses and shift uncomfortably in my chair to think of who I am.
One such weakness is my struggle to be honest with myself. The most honest thing I think I’ve written in the past three months is this. It is so hard for me to be completely honest when I talk about my life, mainly because I’m afraid of what kind of monster I’ll see when I do. I don’t publish the honest stuff, because the honest stuff hurts. But I have to.
The truth is that when I read Great Expectations, I’m not always Pip. I’m Estella, too.
I’m not really accessible. I’ve had my share of Pips, good guys who have admired me and good guys who I have hurt a little because I don’t reciprocate the feeling. I guess the only difference between Estella and I is that I don’t like hurting the Pips in my life as much as she enjoyed torturing hers. That’s one difference, and I guess that there is another, the fact that rather than a mother-figure making me who I am, I have made myself who I am.
That’s not really who I am, though.
Maybe I’m Miss Havisham. Abandoned and brokenhearted, she made Estella who the girl is, her little Frankenstein to pay the world back for its cruelty. Except maybe Estella, in my case, is the girl I’ve made myself. She’s heartless because she’s a defense, not a human being. She’s cruel because she’s revenge, not a girl. She’s just the thing the old woman uses to protect her own feelings.
Well, this Estella is exhausted.