Reading Great Expectations Essay
Reading Great Expectations
Show how Pip is affected by its standards and values. At the beginning of the novel, Dickens presents Pip as a boy who does not really know much about life outside of the forge, and keeps himself to himself. He is an innocent boy who has been brought up to respect his elders and betters. When Pip meets Magwitch, the convict, Dickens shows that he is a kind boy, because he helps by getting him food and a file. We also learn how gullible Pip is, because he believes Magwitch when he tells Pip there is a terrible man who will kill him if he does not do as he is told.
“I looked all round for the horrible young man, and could see no signs of him. But, now I was frightened again, and ran home without stopping. ” This shows the reader that Pip is very nai?? ve, and also very timid. He is not the sort of boy who would stand up for himself. His visits to Satis House, his first acquaintance with a higher social class, are like a stepping-stone towards London. What he learns there, about how people live and talk, would influence him in the future. These visits are what make him ashamed of being “a common labouring-boy” and lead him to aspire to the status of a gentleman.
Estella refers to him as “common” and says he has “coarse hands” and wears “thick boots”. He becomes resentful that he has to live in the country, and work as a blacksmith, a thing that he looked forward to before he met Estella. He says to Biddy, “I am not at all happy as I am. I am disgusted with my calling and with my life. ” He also becomes discourteous, and feels as if it is someone’s fault that he has to become a blacksmith, just as his sister felt resentful at having to bring up him.
In his fourth year of apprenticeship to Joe, Pip’s wishes are granted. Jaggers the lawyer, informs him that he is to come into handsome property, and will become a gentleman. He also informs him that he cannot know the identity of his benefactor, but Pip believes that it is Miss Havisham, and that she is preparing him to marry Estella. “My dream was out… Miss Havisham was to make my fortune on a grand scale. ” From the moment Pip learns of his “great expectations”, he sees himself as superior to everyone else, and becomes self-centred.
Pip says, about his family’s reaction to his news “they both heartily congratulated me; but there was a certain touch of sadness in their congratulations, that I rather resented. ” He is so obsessed with himself that he does not stop to consider the feelings of Joe and Biddy and what effect his leaving will have on them. Pip’s previous kind-heartedness and innocence are being replaced by pride and a sense of superiority. He tells Biddy that Joe is “rather backward in some things… in his learning and in his manners. ” Pip’s neighbours and relatives change their attitudes towards him as a result of his new wealth.
Pumblechook, who once compared him to a pig, now treats him as an equal, and calls him his “dear friend. ” Mr Trabb, Pip’s tailor, is also very obsequious towards Pip when he hears of the changes in his situation. From this we can see how important money was to people at this time, and also how people treated you differently if you had it. The possession of money immediately gave people a higher status. Pip accepts that his “great expectations” have indeed made him into a different person and he therefore accepts that people treat him differently.
Pip’s first impressions of London are that its immensity scares him and that it is “rather ugly, crooked, narrow and dirty. ” The first things he sees are the gallows yard of Newgate Prison and the Debtor’s Door, which give him “a sickening idea of London. ” He is also not very impressed with Barnard’s inn, where he is to stay. He describes it as “the dingiest collection of shabby buildings ever squeezed together in a rank corner. ” He also says, “So imperfect was this realisation of my great expectations, that I looked in dismay at Mr Wemmick. “
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