Task: In chapter 8, 14 and 49, Pip a boy from a humble background meets with a rich and eccentric lady Miss Havisham. An atmosphere is built that reveals aspect of Pip’s changing character. Dickens wants the reader to feel sympathetic towards Pip. How is this achieved?
The aim of this coursework is to identify all techniques used by Dickens to create sympathy towards Pip.
Pip is an orphan boy living with his overbearing sister and her kind husband Joe Gargery. As an infant Pip was unable to say his name Philip Pirrip, Philip being his Christian name and Pirrip being his father’s family name so he shortened his name and called himself Pip and came to be known as so. Pip is from a family in the lower social class but everything is turned around when he receives a great expectation later in his life.
Pip and Miss Havisham first encountered in chapter eight at her manor, Satis House when a visit is arranged for Pip to come and play with Estella. The visit was arranged, in chapter seven, by a merchant obsessed with money, Uncle Pumblechook, Pip’s pretentious uncle. Miss Havisham is in the upper class and Pip is in the lower class so for him to be at Miss Havisham’s is an honor. Their differing social background is important as it introduces Pip to the upper class which eventually leads to Pip’s one and only desire to become a gentleman so that he may be worthy of having Estella.
The Satis house has a grey eerie atmosphere and a setting of imprisonment which is likely to seem as though to Pip. When he first encounters the house he must feel as though his freedom has been taken away from him when he the gates are shut and locked with keys. A feeling of awkwardness must have developed in Pip when he sees that all the clocks are stopped at 20minutes past nine and Miss Havisham is in a wedding dress seated by a decaying feast on a grand table. Pip is more than likely to think that he is a mad house. He would seem scared, as well as confused in Miss Havisham’s manor.
Miss Havisham is a filthy rich and eccentric lady whose life is defined by a single tragic event. Compeyson, her ex fiancï¿½e, jilting her. Due to this Miss Havisham has dedicated her life to total darkness and has shut the outside world out of her life. With all her clocks stopped throughout her whole house she has no sense of time. She wears a wedding dress with one shoe on her foot all the time and has
a decaying feast on a grand table in her dining room. Since her heartbreak Miss Havisham has neither heart nor feelings and seeks revenge which is why she adopted Estella and has brought her up to have no heart and play with those of boys. Estella is a beautiful girl who is of the same age as Pip, as well as being his one desirable love throughout the whole story. Despite Estella continuously calling Pip ‘boy’, criticizing him and reminding him of his lower class he still falls in love with her and allows her to be the one to drive him to his desires of being a gentleman.
Pip is introduced in the story in three different stages of his life; as a child, when we are introduced to his background and lifestyle. As an adolescent, when he is first introduced to Estella when he goes to Miss Havisham’s manor, Satis House, to play. And as an adult, when he receives a great expectation from his secret benefactor, Magwitch, then later becomes a gentleman.
We, the reader, first sympathise with Pip, the main character, in chapter 1 when we first acknowledge that he could not even pronounce his own name ‘My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name being Philip, my infant tongue could make both of my names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip.’ Knowing this tells us that he is unable to read his own name, which means he was most probably not educated because he could not afford it. This draws sympathy towards him as when think deeply about this. We are usually able to read our own name by the age of 4yrs or so, so for someone not to be able to read their own name must be emotionally upsetting for them.
Acknowledging that Pip is an orphan ‘Philip Pirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that of Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias and Roger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried’ also creates sympathy as we naturally place ourselves in Pip’s shoes and try to feel what he feels. Not only that his parents are deceased and he has never set eyes on them before, but to also find out that five of his brothers are deceased as well will be traumatic for him. We can feel the pain he would feel knowing this when we put ourselves in his shoes, thus gaining sympathy for him.
When Pip is suddenly startled and threatened “Hold your nose!” cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from among the graves at the side of the church porch. “Keep still, you little devil, or I’ll cut your throught!” Pip is at his parents and sibling’s grave grieving then is suddenly attacked. As if he isn’t hurt enough! He might even become scared to visit his family’s grave again. This, yet again draws sympathy towards Pip because we have first learnt that Pip is an orphan and his five siblings are dead and now he is being attacked by an escaped convict. It seems as though he is an unfortunate boy.
Pip living with his over-bearing sister, Mrs Joe, may also be considered as sympathetic especially as she has a stick named tickler which she uses to cane Pip and her husband Joe Gargery.
It is commonly thought that parents should not beat their children so for a siblings to do so must be highly hated. Mrs Joe is portrayed as a mean abusive woman who is the head of the house. She not only has control over her younger brother, Pip, but also over her husband. You sympathise with Pip on these terms because you would of expected him to be living in a happy home where he would not get caned especially how he is an orphan. But he does not.
In Chapter 8 Pip is in Uncle Pumblechook’s house. As they ate breakfast at eight o’clock, Mr Pumblechook sternly grills Pip on multiplication questions whilst Pip is still on an empty stomach, “his conversation consisted of nothing but arithmetic.” This is sympathetic towards pip because we already know that he is an illiterate and now he his being continuously asked mathematical questions. Yes, he knows his maths and can answer the questions within time but obviously he will find it hard to concentrate about Mathematics on an empty stomach.
The food which he has been given to him as his breakfast, “Besides giving me as much as a crumb as a possible combination with as little butter, and putting such a quantity of warm water into my milk that it would have been more candid to leave the milk out altogether,” this is just another reminder of Pip’s lower social class. Usually when a child is at some one else’s home that person would try o be a good host for that guest no matter their social class. This is just one sympathetic thing towards Pip but the next sympathetic thing towards Pip is the fact that Uncle Pumblechook “sat at ease guessing nothing, eating bacon and hot roll in (if I may be allowed the expression) a gorging and gormandising manner.” This just seems so mean. At least Uncle Pumblechook could have some heart and at least treat Pip as an equal, but instead he makes Pip feel even more at unease by firing him with arithmetic questions whilst he is there scoffing his face with his full breakfast.
Despite Estella being told of Pip’s name, she still continuously calls him “boy.” It is as if she is trying to remind him of their social difference. They of the same age yet he still allows her to disrespect him. This is sympathetic because most children would argue their case to be called by their name if a child of the same age was calling them boy.
Even though Estella has no respect for Pip whatsoever, he still falls in love with her. “Though she called me ‘boy’ so often, and with a carelessness that was far from complimentary, she was of my own age. She seemed much older than I, of course, being a girl, and a beautiful and self-possessed; and she was as scornful of me as if she had been one-and-twenty, and a queen.” Pip has noticed that Estella is treating Pip by his class and knows that she is being rude to him yet he still falls for her love trap.
The way in which Miss Havisham uses Pip is sympathetic. She orders Pip to “play, play, play!” but deep in her mind she is intending for Estella to “break his heart.” Because she is heart broken she is deciding to use Estella to destroy Pip, a humble boy’s heart. This is unfair towards Pip and to make it worse he has already fallen for Estella.
When Pip cries as he leaves Satis House, “…leaned my sleeve against the wall there, and leaned my forehead forward on it and cried.” Pip has seem what it is like being in the upper class and is starting to feel shame for his behaviours which had never troubled him before, “They had never troubled me before, but they troubled me now as vulgar appendages. I determined to ask Joe why he had ever taught me to call the picture-cards, Jacks, which ought to be called Knaves. I wished Joe had been more genteelly brought up, and then should have been I too.” “I was so humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended, angry, sorry” For someone to start regretting the way they were brought up is very shameful but for Pip we end up sympathising with him.
Sympathy arises when Estella asks Pip “Why don’t you cry?” and he replies “Because I don’t want to.” Then Estella “laughed contemptuously” when she gets him back by saying “You do, you have been crying till you are half blind, and you are near crying now.” This leaves Pip criticising himself saying that “I was a common labouring-boy; that my hands were course; that my boots were thick; that I had fallen into a despicable habit of calling Knaves Jacks; that I was much more ignorant than I had considered myself last night, and generally that I was in a low-lived bad way.” Yet again I would like to state that is an inner disgrace to regret the way in which we are brought up and the class we are born in. It is not exactly like we can pick and choose how we want to be and live like. Although this is an inner disgrace we still sympathise with him because he never chose to view this whole new life but was merely forced to and he has now fallen in love with the beautiful Estella and therefore has started to hate his bringing up, only in order to impress Estella and be worthy of her.
In Chapter fourteen, I would like to emphasize Pip’s honesty to look within himself and say truthfully about his ashamed behaviour towards his home, “It is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home. They may be a black ingratitude in the thing, and the punishment may be retributive and well deserved for; but that is a miserable thing, I can testify” most people would not even accept the fact that they have shame for what they done and admit that the punishment may be well deserved, instead we would deny to ourselves the fact that we even did feel ashamed of home and even if we did accept the fact that we felt ashamed of home we would never admit that it would deserve a punishment.
Pips home has never been a pleasant place for him, “home had never been a pleasant place to me, because of my sister’s temper.” Pip living in a home which has never been a pleasant place for him is sympathetic. Homes are meant to be loving places full of love and joy but this obviously is not the case for Pip. When you live with siblings you would expect the home to seem more joyful whether they have a temper or not. For Pip not to find his home pleasant because of his older sibling must mean that his sister has a temper a bad as an ape!
I would firstly draw the first sympathetic point of chapter fourty-nine when Pip is ashamed to be seen in the place where he was brought up in now that he was a gentleman. “I hurried avoiding observation” Pip has become a snob since he has now become a gentleman yet he is not only feeling ashamed of his background, but being seen there as well. The place in which he was born, raised and fed in. how can anybody be ashamed of their home as well as being seen there? This is really sympathetic.
The second sympathetic point I would like to draw your attention to in chapter 49, is when Pip forgives Miss Havisham. “There was an air of utter loneliness upon her, that would have moved me to pity though she had wilfully dine me deeper injury than I could charge her with.” Despite the successful attempts she made for Pip’s heart to be toyed, played and broken by Estella, Pip still manages to forgive her. He still has he kind heartedness inside of him even though he has become a snob.
When Miss Havisham still thinks of Pip in a lower social class through the gestures she does with her hand. “She stretched out her tremulous right hand as though she were going to touch me; but she recalled it again before I understood the action, or knew how to receive it. Although Pip has become a gentleman and has money and can at least class himself as the middle class, Miss Havisham, after all these years, reminds Pip that he his still of the lower class. For split second she was going to teat him as an equal but the ‘recalled’ that he is in the lower class and therefore she does not need to touch him.
Pip acts selflessly and wants to help his friend and not himself. “Nothing, I thank you for the question. I thank you even more for the tone of the question. But there is nothing.” This creates sympathy because he acts selflessly and wants to only help his friend and not himself. He knows he needs some money to pay off all his debts but he forgets about himself and only takes enough money which is needed to help his friend.
Pip is ready to die for Miss Havisham. “I had a double-caped great-coat on, and over my arm another thick coat. That I got them off, closed with her, threw her down, and got them over her; that I dragged the great cloth from the table for the same purpose, and with it dragged down the heap of rottenness in the midst, and all the ugly things that sheltered there; that we were on the ground struggling like desperate enemies; and that the closer I covered her, he more wildly she shrieked and tried to free herself;” Pip yet again shows that he is a caring young man and is not selfish. It seems that he cannot help but put others before himself. The thing that makes us sympathise even more with pip is the fact that Miss Havisham attempted her best to toy with Pip’s heart, she managed to break it put him trough so much pain and she is constantly reminding him of their social differences and he still is ready to loose his life for her. He even ended up burn his hands and he did not know because he was so dedicated to save her life. “I was astonished to see that both my hand were burnt; for I had no knowledge of it through the sense of feeling.” This takes great dedication and a big heart to unnoticeably harm yourself whilst saving someone who ruined your total love life.
The use of Pip as a narrator some how creates sympathy. For him to tell his whole life story is one thing, but to embrace all his wrong doings as well as his right is another. Naturally, any human who is giving an account of something which includes them would tell that account so that they have no faults, but Pip made sure people knew of his faults as well as his good deeds. This is sheer honesty and makes us sympathize with him.
In conclusion I think that Dickens is successful in making the reader feel sympathetic towards Pip, in the story Great Expectations. I think this because of the points which I have stated in my piece of coursework. Pip is a young orphan boy, from a very humble background, whom has gone through a great deal throughout his life to get a great expectation, become a gentleman and be worthy the beautiful but mean Estella. Dickens was also successful in making the reader feel sympathetic towards Pip due to the way he was introduced in the story a three different stages of his life; as a child, when we are introduced to his background and lifestyle. As an adolescent, when he is first introduced to Estella when he goes to Miss Havisham’s manor, Satis House, to play. And as an adult, when he receives a great expectation from his secret benefactor, Magwitch, then later becomes a gentleman.