I first read Great Expectations as a wide-eyed thirteen year old, and though I was not yet of an age to be capable of analysing myself, I sort of found myself in Estella. No, I am not an adopted child, nor even brought up by a Miss Havisham kind of figure. Neither have I lived as a recluse most of my life, taught to scorn those who had not the privileges I did. I’m strictly not beautiful (someday I plan to orate on the postulates of true beauty, but here I imply physical attractiveness), and so I have no real right to be proud.
But here’s the catch. I’m proud. Terribly. I don’t know why. I can’t even define this sense of pride. Let’s just say it’s that indefinable something that makes me believe I’m different from the rest. Not superior. Simply different. And it isn’t only vain pride, I actually am different. There are certain things about people and society I simply cannot comprehend, and their incomprehensibility somehow cuts me off from people big time. I’m isolated in my understanding of this world. Rarely do I see someone agreeing to my views; even rarer are those who see and believe what I do. For those who don’t, I have only pity to offer. Someday the truth will shine down on them like some abstract sun, lighting up their souls and making them capable of vision.
And that is not all. What Estella and I share chiefly is the coldness of heart, the indifferent attitude, and the cynicism. Of course, it’s not possible to be human and sensitive, and not to feel strongly about some things in life. But then, there has always been this sincere lack of passionate feelings, for anything or anyone. Even in the initial stages of a crush, there has hardly been anything more than vague stirrings of the soul. (Not, I admit, in the case of my first crush- that one was different.) Sooner or later, the dust seems to settle down on my feelings, and all emotion disappears into a vast limbo. I have watched patiently while my friends, in the “first bloom of youth” (as Dickens calls it), mooned over a cricketer, a film star, or any other pimply teenaged boy. But I never felt that kind of a feeling. I don’t know what I’m saying here, but I’m trying to express in words what I feel (yes, feel), not what I think. Even today when I see my sister gushing over some trifle, I fail to understand the emotion. She is way older, but I believe I’m wiser (told you I was proud). She simply thinks I’m ante-diluvian, with long, wispy white hair.
When Pip passionately declares his love for her, Estella responds with cold cynicism. She declares herself incapable of feeling in any form. “It is in the nature formed within me” , she says. The emotion of love is something that she fails to understand-it is simply a form of words; but nothing more. She decides to marry Bentley Drummle because she is simply tired of the life she leads. There are no charms in it for her. This tiredness, this weariness is something that has come upon me quite recently. I have no idea where I am going… or what I’ll do next. It’s this vague sense of purposelessness that seems to be engulfing every aspect of my life. Suicide would have been an option if I was not afraid of the pain that it involves. Oh yes, I’m scared of pain…dreadfully so. And I’m tired of the life I’ve led, especially in the last five years. I’m greatly tempted to marry, like Estella, simply for a change of situation. But that would be wronging my unsuspecting partner. And whatever I do, I shall not do that. For deceptions and hypocrisies are not exactly my cup of tea.
Cynicism is usually the scar that experience leaves behind. Estella is a cynic because she is conditioned to be one. Miss Havisham teaches her the ways of the world; Estella is not only adopted to Miss Havisham’s care, but also to her cynicism. Mine is a little different. My parents aren’t cynics, so I cannot have been imbued with their cynicism. No, my cynicism has been born out of an observation of this world and her ways….
The biggest difference between Estella and myself is perhaps the fact that she really doesn’t have a heart to feel. I do. I feel, and have been feeling for a long time now. Estella’s cynicism and indifference prevents her from feeling, till life teaches her otherwise. My life has taught me that it is better to be cynical, and not feel, and therefore not get hurt. I’m scared of any emotional excess.... I seem to have seen and felt a lot more than I should have, and don’t want to go there anymore.
This post may seem like the outpourings of a confused soul. Perhaps they are. This was, at best, an attempt to analyse myself, and the way I think. This exercise of self-introspection is usually best carried out within the safe confines of a diary. I don’t know why I’m choosing to put this up on my blog.