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30 'Great Expectations' Quotes Explained For Students

Find the best 'Great Expectations' quotes here.

Are you a 'Great Expectations' fan?

Perhaps you are a student preparing for examinations? Your search for answers ends here!

'Great Expectations' is a classic book by Charles Dickens. We have put together 30 famous 'Great Expectations' quotes and explanations just for you.  

For more classic literary quotes, check out these Achilles quotes and Toussaint Louverture quotes too.

'Great Expectations' Quotes About Growing up

Charles Dickens, in his remarkable novel, has effectively expressed how childhood can shape a person's character. Here are some great quotes from 'Great Expectations' about growing up!

1. “My sister's bringing up had made me sensitive.”

-Pip, page 69.

Explained: Pip complains about being mistreated by his sister (Mrs. Joe Gargery), as a child, which made him sensitive to people’s behavior toward him.

2. “So fur as I could find, there warn't a soul that see young Abel Magwitch, with us little on him as in him, but wot caught fright at him, and either drove him off, or took him up…”

-Magwitch, page 385.

Explained: Magwitch faced the same fate. In this quote, from chapter 42, Abel Magwitch explains how his becoming a convict is a result of his own childhood experiences.

3. "You should know... I am what you have made me.”

- Estella, page 338.

Explained: Brought up and taught by Miss Havisham, Estella learned only to break hearts, which results in her breaking Pip's heart later in the novel. She resents Miss Havisham for the way she has brought her up. There is a sense of irony in this dramatic quote.

'Great Expectations' Quotes About Love

Charles Dickens has depicted the importance of real love through his characters.

These Pip quotes and Magwitch quotes from 'Great Expectations' are so interesting.

4. "I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be."

-Pip, page 258.

Explained: This is one of the most famous quotes from 'Great Expectations' (chapter 29). It shows the undying and unconditional love that Pip had for Estella. Even if she wasn't nice to him, he loved her with a whole heart and wants to marry her. It also hints at the idea that we should not change who we are in order to be loved, as Pip loved Estella unconditionally.

5. “The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible.”

-Pip, page 258.

Explained: In chapter 29, it is evident from the quote that Pip was the only person who could see beyond Estella's cold heart. This defines the true meaning of love.

6. "I’ll tell you what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world…”

- Miss Havisham, page 267

Explained: Miss Havisham understood what true love is. In chapter 29, Miss Havisham explains to Pip how she had loved a man in her life with true devotion and asks Pip to love Estella the same.

7. “But I loved Joe–perhaps for no better reason than because the dear fellow let me love him…”

- Pip, page 44.

Explained: It is evident from this quote that Pip loved Joe (her sister's husband). In chapter six, Pip recognizes and accepts his love for old Joe, as he was the only man who cared for him.

8. “Love her, love her, love her! If she favors you, love her. If she wounds you, love her."

- Miss Havisham, page 267.

Explained: In this quote from chapter 28, Miss Havisham lures and urges Pip to love Estella no matter what so that her revenge can be fulfilled. She knows how much Pip loved Estella and she wants his heart to be broken by her.

9. "I, being at my grimiest and commonest, should lift up my eyes and see Estella looking in at one of the wooden windows of the forge. I was haunted by the fear that she would … exult over me and despise me."

-Pip, page 119.

Explained: In this quote, from chapter 14, Pip reveals his fear that Estella would mock him. After being exposed to disdain in Miss Havisham's house, Pip felt that he was not worthy of her love.

'Great Expectations' Quotes About Hardships

Charles Dickens has showcased in the life of his characters the gruesome hardships faced by each one of them, suffering and striving to become a better person.

10. “Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but—I hope—into a better shape."

-Estella., page 542.

Explained: In chapter 59, Estella reveals what suffering does to a person. She says that life has ultimately taught her how cold-hearted and wrong she had been, and aspires to become a better person thereafter.

11. “… in seclusion, she had secluded herself from a thousand natural and healing influences; that, her mind, brooding solitary, had grown diseased…”

-Pip, page 444.

Explained: In chapter 49, Pip feels sorry for Miss Havisham and reveals why she has become so cold-hearted. After being betrayed Miss Havisham lost faith in love and locked herself in seclusion which stopped her from healing. Pip says that her loneliness has become a disease that is cast upon Estella too.

12. “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts."

-Pip, page 178.

Explained: In chapter 19, Pip regrets his ingratitude and being unfair to Joe. He feels sorry for himself and realizes what he has become and what he has done. He accepts his tears of sorrow and feels softened by them.

13."O Lord, be merciful to him a sinner!"

-Pip, page 514.

Explained: Pip utters these words as Magwitch dies. In chapter 56, he prays for him to be forgiven for all his sins as he had realized that Magwitch wasn't a monster after all.

14."... felt vaguely convinced that I was very much ill used by somebody, or by everybody."

-Pip, page 129.

Explained: In chapter 17, Pip confides in Biddy, which shows that Biddy is his ally. She comforts him by patting his shoulder as he softly cries. In this quote he is realising that he has been used.

'Great Expectations' Quotes About Wealth

Money symbolizes a sense of materialism and social status in the book. The characters in this Charles Dickens novel are shown to be blinded by this power of money

15. “We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people made up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable…”

- Pip, page 305.

Explained: In chapter 34, Pip and Herbert look at their ascending financial debts, which is when he realizes how blinded by money he was, he put money before kindness.

16. “I promised myself that I would do something one of these days, and formed a plan in outline for bestowing a dinner of roast beef and plum pudding…”

- Pip, page 163.

Explained: This quote from chapter 19, emphasizes how Pip thinks of himself as the wealthiest person who can support a village. This also reveals that Pip's money spending tendencies.

17. "I am pretty well known."

- Mr Jaggers, page 152.

Explained: Here, in this quote from chapter 18, Mr Jaggers boasts of his position as a lawyer and his social status, while he introduces himself.

18."I reposed complete confidence in no one but Biddy: but I told poor Biddy everything."

-Pip, page 106.

Explained: In chapter 12, blinded by the power of social status, Pip wants to become a gentleman, so he tells Biddy everything and wants her to teach him manners.

19. “All other swindlers upon earth are nothing to the self swindlers, and with such pretences did I cheat myself.”

-Pip, page 251.

Explained: This quote from chapter 28, depicts how Pip was slipping into self-deception, as he was trying to convince himself that he would be an inconvenience at Joe's. Although, the actual reason was that Pip felt he was too uptight to go back to his old house.

'Great Expectations' Quotes About Pip Becoming A True Gentleman

Find out more about Pip here.

20. “But, sharpest and deepest pain of all – it was for the convict, guilty of I knew not what crimes, and liable to be taken out of those rooms where I sat thinking, and hanged at the Old Bailey door, that I had deserted Joe.”

-Pip, page 361.

Explained: After being obsessed with money and his new status, Pip’s character evolves once he gets to know who his true benefactor is.

21.“I did really cry in good earnest when I went to bed, to think that my expectations had done some good to somebody.”

-Pip, page 333.

Explained: Again Pip's character is seen evolving in this quote from chapter 37 when he cries for doing a good deed. He feels he has done something good since being blinded by his "great expectations".

22. “And could I look upon her without compassion, seeing her punishment in the ruin she was, in her profound unfitness for this earth on which she was placed…”

-Pip, page 444.

Explained: In this quote from chapter 49, Pip feels sorry and compassionate towards Miss Havisham's hatred and her obsession with taking revenge.

'Great Expectations' Quotes About Miss Havisham’s Character

Book lovers will love these quotes.

Explore these Miss Havisham quotes to learn more.

23."... everybody for miles around, had heard of Miss Havisham up town—as an immensely rich and grim old lady who lived in a large and dismal house barricaded against robbers, and who led a life of seclusion."

-Pip, page 55.

Explained: Miss Havisham's life and character are seen in this quote from chapter eight, everybody knew her as a "rich and grim old lady" who was used to living in seclusion. This quote is from when Pip goes to stay in her house in the book.

24. “Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy.”

- Miss Havisham, page 105.

Explained: Miss Havisham, in this quote teaches Estella to break hearts without having any mercy on men. She uses her to get her revenge on men.

25. “I stole her heart away and put ice in its place.”

- Miss Havisham, page 445.

Explained: Later in the novel, Miss Havisham realizes how wrong she was to have used Estella in such a way.

26. “What have I done?... When she first came I meant to save her from misery like mine”

-Miss Havisham, page 449.

Explained: Miss Havisham realizes her mistake and shows regret in her words in this quote from chapter 49. She says she was meant to save Estella from a broken life like hers.

27. “I want to pursue that subject you mentioned to me when you were last here, and to show you that I am not all stone…”

-Miss Havisham, page 441.

Explained: Miss Havisham, in chapter 49, accepts to help Herbert in his business to prove that she not all evil and that she has a human heart in her.

At Kidadl, we have created lots of family-friendly quotes for everyone! If you liked our 'Great Expectations' quotes, check out these Aesop quotes and TS Eliot quotes too.

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The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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