Dickens is a humanist. In his writings, he did make an effort to expose the many stereotypes that we come across. But he would never jest at them. On the contrary, his sympathies are with all of them. He projects them with all their weakness, without making them villains. Even in the case of Miss Havisham and Estella, in spite of their unkind attitude towards Pip, there would be few readers who do not feel sorry for them.
Apparently, Pip wins the case, because he was in no mood to play and he didn’t. But if we look closely, it becomes obvious that it was Miss Havisham who had the last laugh. True, she couldn’t make him play as such, but she did make him play a different game without telling him so. And this game was no less difficult either. Rather, a more difficult one.
The game in which Pip had to call Estella was just “as bad as playing to order”. But this time round, there was no escape. She had decided that “he could do that”. The way she “flashed a look at him” exhausted the possibility of escape. He must obey; else, he would have to see her fury.
Truly, Pip was standing here in a “mysterious passage”. He was not sure where he was. Neither did he know where he was going to end up. He knew his life was going to change, but whether it was going to be for the better or for the worse, it was indeed a “mystery” that time alone would be able to resolve.
Yet, in this strange place that was “so melancholy”, there was a ray of hope, there could be seen some light at the end of the tunnel, there was a “star” that shone brightly. That star was the scornful, unresponsive, haughty, self-possessed Estella. That her light came along “like a star” signifies Pip’s soon-to-be passion for her. Whether she will return his feelings is of course a question.
But Dickens never leaves the reader in the dark. He tells us “she answered at last”. And when you are reading the work of an author of Dickens’s stature, you may rest assured it’s going to be climax of the story as well. She’ll answer at last.
This bildungsroman novel is a depiction of Pip’s encounters with different kinds of people through the journey of his life, from his seventh year till the mid-thirties. These are the models that make Pip what he is in the end: a true gentleman. Of the specimens that he meets, two typical and significant characters are those of Miss Havisham and Estella. Both raise hopes in his life and cause much turbulence too. The passage under consideration throws lights on one of the important thresholds that Pip was about to cross.