Essays

Fairy Tale Conventions And Great Expectations

Fairy Tale Conventions And Great Expectations (Hainstock 1) Great Expectations and Fairy tales Tolkien describes the facets which are necessary in a good fairy tales as fantasy, recovery, escape, and consolation – recovery from deep despair, escape from some great danger, but most of all, consolation. Speak- ing of the happy ending,all complete fairy stories must have itHowever fantastic or terrible the adventure, it can give to child or man that hears it,a catch of breath, a beat and lifting of the heart near to tears. (Uses of Enchantment, pg.143) Great Expectations shares many of the conventions of fairy tales. The one dimensional characters, the use of repetition, and the evil women seem to make the similarities strikingly strong. However, are they strong enough to conclude that it is indeed a fairy tale? It can not be ignored that it also falls short on some important areas, such as the traditional fairy tale ending.

Is there enough evidence to classify it either way? Fairy tales have characters of complete good or complete evil. There are no characters who posses both of these qualities. In reading Great Expectations it is plain to see that there is indeed total goodness and total evil. This can be seen in many of the characters. There is no goodness to be found in Orlick. He plays the role of the bully.

His hot temper results in the near death of Mrs. Joe and in the near death of Pip. Compeyson is another who has no goodness to be found in him. He is full of evil and hate. It was said that He had no more heart than a iron file, he was cold as death and he had the head of the devil (348).

He broke the heart of poor Miss Havisham so he could have her money. He also longed to kill his enemy, Magwitch, and ends up reporting him to the officials to get him put to death. Nowhere in this tale do either of these men show one ounce of compassion or (Hainstock 2) goodness. They can both be regarded as the enemies and the Bad guys of the story. Joe is a character who shows complete goodness.

He is kind hearted and gentle. His generosity and forgiveness is demonstrated countless times in the story. When the escaped convict speaks about the food he stole from Joe and asks his forgiveness, Joe’s response is not one of anger. God knows you are welcome to it- so far as it was ever minewe wouldn’t have you starve to death (40). His forgiveness is further demonstrated by his reception and willingness to take care of Pip after Pip had been so cruel to him.

He simply replies that you and me was ever friends (463). His wonderful kindness to his mean wife, Mrs. Joe, demonstrates his unconditional love. He speaks nicely of her even though she is not very nice to him. Biddy shares these characteristics with Joe. She still cares for Pip even though he has been rude to her and pushed her out of his life. Biddy and Joe are both totally good.

However good and evil is not always so clear cut. Some characters appear to fit the fairy tale pattern of being all bad or all good but when they are further explored it cannot be said that they do not fit totally into either side. Consider Molly. She was a jealous woman, and a revengeful woman; revengeful to the last degree (405). She had murdered another woman.

She told her husband (Magwitch) that she had also killed their daughter (which was not true). But when given the option to give up her child so it would have a chance at life she agreed selflessly: If you are saved, your child is saved too; if you are lost, your child is still saved (413). (Hainstock 3) Mrs. Joe Gargery is also an example of an more rounded character. She is mean and seems to be without a heart.

She always went on as to all the illness I had been guilty of, and all of the acts of sleeplessness I had committedand all the times she had wished me in my grave (28). Yet had Mrs. Joe been all bad she would not have raised Joe by hand, she would simply have cast him out. Mrs. Havisham appears to be coldhearted and evil.

However when the reason for her anger and resentment for men in discovered her feelings are better understood. In the end she realizes the harm that she has done, to herself, to Estella and to Pip. She begs that Pip will take the pencil and write under my name, I forgive her (403). She repeats over and over again What have I done, What have I done. (403) Fairy tales do not, as a general rule, represent the middle class citizens.

In a fairy tale, people are either extremely rich or extremely poor. In Great Expectations, this is not the case at all. In fact there are very few characters who would not be considered middle class. Most have to put in a honest days work to survive, most live in plain houses, and finally almost all of them are under the leadership of someone else. This shows that they are not at the top of the ladder.

Miss Havisham and Mr. Jaggers are the only two that would not fall into the middle class society. In this respect the characters are not like the characters of fairy tales. Repetition is an important element in fairy tales. It is used to emphasize a point.

It is important because it may take someone a while to grasp what has happened. If it is repeated they have time to understand it. Repetition is very prominent in Great Expectations. When Pip comes into his good fortune and is (Hainstock 4) leaving town, he goes into see Mr. Pumblechook, who is continually saying May I, may I and then shaking the hand of Pip. He repeats this several times. This is done to signify his changed attitude towards Pip now that Pip has come into money.

He is self-seeking in his acts of kindness as he is only kind to those who are in a higher position than him. Repetition is also seen in the life of Pip. In the beginning of the story he is a kind and loving boy, but as the story goes on he becomes hard and cold to the very people he was once so close with. However, near the end of the story, his behaviors and feelings from the beginning of the story come back. Although he has definitely grown and changed considerably, it should be noted that his changes bring him back to the l …