He who forgives the vengeful
All have sinned and fall short the glory of God, therefore, we all need forgiveness (Romans 3:23). Vengeance is a quest of causing harm to another through the desires that sin control; however, forgiveness is the act of pardoning one of a wrongdoing. Each character in Great Expectations makes mistakes, and their actions have a consequence no matter how great the mistake. Jesus, the risen Christ of all who believe, himself commanded us to forgive our brothers an infinite amount of times (Matthew 18:21-22). Great Expectations, written by Charles Dickens, is a story of revenge, and the forgiveness that follows, or may not.
Miss. Havisham, a lead character in the story, is a woman whose heart is set on revenge. She was once a woman like all others, who fell in love with a man, and became engaged to him as a result. Upon their wedding day, he left her at the altar, which latter found that he only was going to marry her because of her money. This tore her heart, and as a result, she adopted a young lady, and raised her with the intent of her causing the same pain that she feels on another, that is, have her revenge through this young lady. Pip, our main character fell in love with this lady, Estella, through the encouragement of Miss. Havisham. When this was discovered, Miss. Havisham sought forgiveness of Pip, asking him to send a letter that said that he forgave her; but Pip gave her that forgiveness right there at that second (p.337). Through Miss. Havisham’s acts of vengeance, it left Estella incapable of love, and broke Pip’s heart; leaving the one he loved unable to love him.
Another great example from Great Expectations is Magwitch. Magwitch was a white collar criminal, and he had a partner named Compeyson (this is the man that left Miss. Havisham at the altar). Compeyson had betrayed Magwitch, causing him to be arrested, putting him in jail. Compeyson himself was later caught and ended in the same jail also, but Magwitch stll was angry of the matter. Magwitch told Pip himself that if he ever saw him again, he would kill him (p.333). When Magwitch finally encountered him, he drowned him, killing him as he said he would (p422-423). Magwitch never forgave him, and murdered him through his revenge, they were responsible for the crime, the punishments that befell them were deserved, yet Magwitch sent upon a journey of vengeance that caused him to take one man’s life, and also lose his as a result.
Joe, the brother-in-law of Pip, is the greatest example of forgiveness in Great Expectations. Pip, when he introduced Joe to Miss. Havisham, was nervous and ashamed of Joe, afraid that Miss.Havisham would find him common, and that it would tarnish his name (p.94). Pip later left to learn to be a gentleman in London, changing his view of Joe completely. He treated him as if he were his subordinate, believing that he was better that Joe. He even resorts to hire a servant to impress Joe, who was already so proud of Pip already. When Pip finally realized his mistakes, he asked for forgiveness, and Joe gives it to him without hesitation (p.455). Through all that Pip had done to Joe, he was still always there to support him. When Pip becomes very ill, Joe leaves his house to come and take care of Pip, never leaving his side; he even goes as far as to pay Pip’s debt (p.447) Joe is a character that shows the love and forgiveness of Christ to all, and never holds wrongdoing’s of anyone against them.
Great Expectations is a novel written to contrast the difference of vengeance and forgiveness, and how we need the later. God, the Almighty Creator, is an example of forgiveness and love that is abundant and limitless. God loved this world and its inhabitants do much, that he sent His Son, a form of Himself, and died on the cross (John 3:30). The Lord commanded the Israelites to seek no revenge but to love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18); but as Christians, we can find reassurance in the fact that the Lord will deliver us, and that we should not repay evil with evil (Proverbs 20:22).
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. America: Oxford University Press, December 1, 1860. Print
Tyndale, William. Life Application Study Bible: NIV.Tyndale House Publishers, 1998. Print
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