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Whenever I watched the vessels standing out to sea with their white sails spread, I somehow thought of Miss Havisham and Estella; and whenever the light struck aslant, afar off, upon a cloud or sail or green hill-side or water-line, it was just the same. Miss Havisham and Estella and the strange house and the strange life appeared to have something to do with everything that was picturesque. (1.15.4)
The horizon in Great Expectations is often tied to the concept of dreams, hopes, and plans. Sometimes, Pip looks out onto the marshes and sees nothing but low, flat, wet land that leads to nothing. However, whenever the horizon is populated by sails or other things, Pip instantly feels closer to his dreams. His fear is having nothing on the horizon, nothing to live for, and nothing upon which to hang his hopes. The marsh land is almost like a mirror of Pip’s mind.
She had adopted Estella, she had as good as adopted me, and it could not fail to be her intention to bring us together. She reserved it for me to restore the desolate house, admit the sunshine into the dark rooms, set the clocks a going and the cold hearths a blazing, tear down the cobwebs, destroy the vermin – in short, do all the shining deeds of the young Knight of romance, and marry the Princess. (2.29.2)
Pip’s dreams seem to be made of images, actions, and theatrical elements rather than emotions or substantive encounters. Instead of being able to imagine a real moment of happiness and understanding with Estella, Pip imagines dramatically and magically curing Satis House. It’s all very Beauty and the Beast.
The lady whom I had never seen before, lifted up her eyes and looked archly at me, and then I saw that the eyes were Estella's eyes. But she was so much changed, was so much more beautiful, so much more womanly, in all things winning admiration had made such wonderful advance, that I seemed to have made none. I fancied, as I looked at her, that I slipped hopelessly back into the coarse and common boy again. O the sense of distance and disparity that came upon me, and the inaccessibility that came about her! (2.29.38)
Inaccessibility is an idea that surfaces again and again in this novel. There are lots of keys and gates, and Estella is perhaps the most guarded and impenetrable of all. Pip seems to be constantly concerned with distance to his dream rather than the dream itself.