I have never read a declaration of romantic love so strong, so desperate, and so agonizing as Pip’s love for Estella in Great Expectations. So here are some quotes from the book to put it in the picture.
A love against everything
“The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. Once for all, I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. Once for all; I loved her none the less because I knew it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection.”
A love that did not grow from a state of comfort
“I never had one hour’s happiness in her society, and yet my mind all-round the four-and-twenty hours was harping on the happiness of having her with me unto death.”
A love when hope is lost
“I know. I have no hope that I shall ever call you mine, Estella. I am ignorant what may become of me very soon, how poor I may be, or where I may go. Still, I love you. I have loved you since I first saw you in this house.”
What Estella means to Pip
“You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since—on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!”
Pip’s plea to Estella not to marry Drummle
“Estella, dearest Estella, do not let Miss Havisham lead you into this fatal step. Put me aside for ever—you have done so, I well know—but bestow yourself on some worthier person than Drummle. Miss Havisham gives you to him, as the greatest slight and injury that could be done to the many far better men who admire you, and to the few who truly love you. Among those few, there may be one who loves you as dearly, though he has not loved you as long, as I. take him, and I can bear it better, for your sake!”
A love that’s still there even after separation
“… I had loved Estella dearly and long, and that, although I had lost her and must live a bereaved life, whatever concerned her was still nearer and dearer to me than anything else in the world.”
Tell me, would you be as heartless as Estella when a man addresses these words to you?