© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
 

Analysis

Shadows

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Shadows always abound when Estella is around. (Whoa. We’re poets, and we didn’t know it.) Pip often notices a shadow passing across Estella’s face. When she arrives in London for the first time, Pip asks, "what was the nameless shadow which again in that one instant had passed?" (2.32.47), and when Pip and Estella are reunited in the (rewritten) end of the novel, Pip sees "no shadow of another parting from her" (3.59.46), which is a good thing, right? The negative nature of the sentence ("I saw no shadow"), while telling us that Pip and Estella live happily ever after, serves to emphasize the shadow part more than the happily ever after part. In this way, Estella remains kind of shadowy to us. Shadows also remind us of things like the Wicked Witch of the East and other evil things. Pip does not protect us from the shadows in his story, but he exposes them in full. Pip understands humans to be composed of darkness and light, shadows and sun. He realizes that Miss Havisham did not intend to hurt those around her, but that she was too overwhelmed with pain. Miss Havisham finances Herbert’s career, and, thus, Pip’s career. In this way, she is both good and bad. Shadows in this novel remind us of the truths that are hidden and of the incredibly complex nature of humans.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
back to top