Money and Happiness in Our Lives

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“Money cannot buy peace of mind. It cannot heal ruptured relationships, or build meaning into a life that has none” (DeVos). Philip Pirrip from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens would agree wholeheartedly with Richard Devoe’s statement. This novel follows the journey of Pip, who strives to be a gentleman so he can be worthy of the girl he loves, Estella. As Pip comes into a sum of money, he discovers that wealth is not what makes him truly happy, and it cannot get him what he truly desires, Estella. Throughout the novel, Pip loses valuable relationships with people he cares about due to their lack of wealth. Money can not buy happiness, as exhibited by Pip, Estella, and Miss Havisham.

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Pip proves throughout the book that money can not buy or bring him happiness. After Estella had rejected him, Pip admitted, “I used to think... I should have been happier and better if I had never seen Miss Havisham's face, and had risen to manhood content to be partners with Joe in the honest old forge”(343). He believes his life would have been better without Estella, without Miss Havisham, and without the money from Magwitch. Joe, Pip’s brother-in-law, and father figure is the kindest person in the novel. Despite Pip’s knowledge of this being true, Joe’s low station as a blacksmith makes Pip decide to never see Joe again. Towards the end of the novel, Pip loses all the money given to him by Magwitch and is in great debt. He falls ill, and Joe is the one who comes to take care of him and pays off Pip’s debts with the little money he has, even after the terrible way Pip treated him. Pip realizes that it is not money that makes him happy, but it is the relationships with people he cares about that do. Despite Pip reuniting with his family and finding true happiness, other characters in this novel were unable to do so.

Estella Havisham was raised by a wealthy woman to never love, and in never loving, she was unable to find true happiness. “I have the heart to be stabbed in or shot in, I have no doubt, and, of course, if it ceased to beat, I would cease to be. But you know what I mean. I have no softness there, no—sympathy—sentiment—nonsense” (299). Throughout her childhood, Estella was not only never given love, but she was taught to never love anyone. She never experienced love in any form because of the wealth she was raised with, and this left a lasting impact on her entire life. She entered a loveless marriage and was abused by her husband, Bentley Drummle until his death. If Estella had never been adopted by Miss Havisham, she may have led a common life and received love, therefore allowing her to love Pip in the way he loved her.

Miss Havisham may have suffered the most in this novel because of her wealth. She fell in love and got engaged to Compeyson, who left her at the altar by leaving a letter after she agreed to buy a brewery that was left to her half-brother Arthur. This damaged her for the rest of her life, and she stopped all the clocks at the time she received the letter, and never took off her wedding dress. In Chapter 29, Miss Havisham tells Pip, “I'll tell you...what real love it. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the smiter - as I did”(302). Miss Havisham will never recover from Compeyson’s manipulation, which she would have never had to go through if it was not for her inherited wealth. Due to her fortune, Miss Havisham will never find happiness.

Although most of the characters could not buy or be happy with a lot of money, some would argue that Magwitch found happiness from money. “Yes, Pip, dear boy, I've made a gentleman on you… sure as ever I earned a guinea, that guinea should go to you. I swore afterward, sure as ever I speculated and got rich, you should get rich. I lived rough, that you should live smooth; I worked hard, that you should be above work” (403). After Pip gave Magwitch food and a file when he was a young boy, Magwitch spent his life working in the sheep industry making a fortune so he would be able to repay Pip for his generosity. Finally repaying Pip made Magwitch extremely happy, but it was not the money itself that brought him happiness. “In jail and out of jail, in jail and out of jail, in jail and out of jail… That’s my life pretty much… after Pip stood my friend” (434). Serving Pip and feeling self-righteous was what made Magwitch happy, not the money. Therefore, money did not buy him happiness, it was hard work that did.

As proven by a multitude of characters in Great Expectations, money can not buy anyone happiness. Estella is unable to love because of her fortune, Miss Havisham is traumatized from being manipulated for her wealth, and Magwitch found happiness, but not in money. In today’s world, money still can not buy happiness. Happiness is found in relationships and love, not in materialistic items like money.

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