Great Expectations Essay Sample
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Great Expectations Essay Sample
Pip, the young orphan boy from the forge was soon to become a young gentleman of great expectations. With a series of unpredictable events, unforeseen emotions, and a great deal of moral development we learn what it took for this young boy to learn how to be what he had always dreamed of becoming- a true gentleman.
Never knowing who his parents were or what his true identity was we learn from the start that Pip has an ongoing voyage of self discovery. He started life as a blank canvas along with his identity.
It is strange that this young boy should have such an astonishing course of events throughout his whole life. It makes us as readers wonder on to how and why things went the way they did. The plot involves many coincidences that bring people together from different social classes, the point of this being to show the readers of the time of Charles Dickens that money and social status do not denote moral virtue and that we as humans are all responsible for each other and not just for ourselves and those who are a benefit to us.
Pip as a young boy is very wary of his surroundings. It comes across to us that he is very innocent and vulnerable, for example in the first chapter in his introduction we see that Pip is almost like a blank canvas, as he does simple things such as imagining his parents as “derived from their tombstones. The shape of the letters on my father’s tombstone, gave an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair”. This gives us the impression that he will take anything to heart and that he is easy impression. He gets very shaken up by the incident with the convict – “‘Oh! Don’t cut my throat, sir,’ I pleaded in terror”. He feels “powerless” towards this man, and we see this is the start of pips moulding and his very eventful life.
His elder sister whether consciously or not teaches simple respect by “bringing him up by hand” which is a basic guideline for his life. It teaches him to be wary of things. Pip had always as a boy imagined himself to grow up to be an apprentice at the forge with Joe, and never even imagined anything else. This was all to change, starting with the introduction of Estella.
“She wants this boy to go and play there.”…the first words announcing Pips future discovery of Satis House. Here he was introduced to Estella, a young girl around the same age as Pip, who has been formed by the psychotic Miss Havisham into being cruel and heartless. She is also of higher status and is much wealthier than Pip. She would constantly mock Pip for his social background and would make him feel inadequate in her company “He calls the Knaves, Jacks, this boy!” He still however seems to fall in love with Estella. Her behaviour and criticalness towards him upset Pip to the extent that his new ambition was to become a gentleman.
When Biddy moved into the forge, it was always assumed that this would be the person for Pip to marry. She had always shown compassion to Pip and Pip for her. However things weren’t to be as simple for the young Pip. Three men come to the door at Pip’s forth year of apprenticeship. They tell him that he will become a gentleman because he has just inherited a large fortune from a mysterious benefactor. It is requested that “Pip should be taken from this place, and be brought up as a gentleman-in a word, as a young fellow of great expectations”. Pip from now on becomes a totally different man. He says “My dream was out; my wild fancy was surpassed by sober reality; Miss Havisham was going to make my fortune on a grand scale”.
We note here that he assumes that the anonymous benefactor must be Miss Havisham, and we learn that this is a vital mistake later in the story. Joe refuses the compensation for loosing an apprentice. He is too proud and says that Pip can go free. Joe wants Pip to have the best opportunities and he feels he would be selfish to keep him on for himself, and even refuses the compensation for loosing an apprentice – “Lord forbid that I should want anything for not standing in Pip’s way”. We see here true gentleman like qualities, putting Pip’s interests before his own, even though it may be hard for Joe to work at the forge by himself without so much money coming in.
Pip, on his way to the carriage to take him to London looks on through the marshes dismissing the memories of the convict, looking rather snobbishly to his old town. He starts to then turn snobbishly towards Joe even though he’s the only one that has ever shown compassion towards Pip. Pumblechook and Trabb now treat him with a lot of respect where as Joe and biddy are worried about how much Pip has changed. Already we can see that Pip is becoming a snob towards his home town. This shows exactly how the visits to Satis house have affected him.
When Pip arrives in London we see it is not as Pip expected, it’s a squalid place that is full of awful lawyers. He imagined a place of great things but instead he finds a corrupt place of Jaggers; “Ugly, crooked, narrow, dirty, rather than paved with gold.” There is an irony in the expectations of Pip and what he actually sees.
There are small clues throughout that Pip has not been born into nobility, because he has to be taught table manners by Herbert. Pip finds it hard to pick up certain aspects of this, and when he apologised to Herbert he simply replies “‘Not at all, I am sure!’ in the most cheerfullest manner” However Herbert also teaches Pip that to be a gentleman does not mean that you need to be wealthy and seek money. He tells him that most gentle men are not brought up as gentle men should be and give this group of people a bad name. He says that manners are nothing unless they are based on sound moral principles. Herbert would be a good example of a true gentleman along with Mathew Pocket because they are not quick to judge and Herbert is very patient with Pip.
Mathew pocket was more of a gentle man by saying to Miss Haversham that “No varnish can hide the grain of the wood, the more varnish you put on the more the grain will express itself”, meaning that her fiancé by trying to cover up the fact he is marrying her for her money, the more obvious he is making it. He uses Miss Haversham’s story to show Pip that any person of any class can get emotionally hurt.
The pocket family are a comical interlude in the book; Mrs Pocket is too concerned about social status to be a good mother or wife. Maybe trying the hang on the little wealth she has left, audience cannot hate her exaggerated snobbery because it is used to show Pip how odd a true snob looks, “There was something comical in his distraught way”.
Even though Wemmick is wealthy he still finds the time to look after his deaf aged parent and we see a different side to him. This makes Pip examine his conscience because he is a better person than Wemmick, not as high up in status but he managed to just let Joe and is ashamed even though he used to be his dad. When Joe visits London even though he doesn’t feel comfortable and looks quite comical he tries to put on heirs and graces for Pip’s benefit, “looked all round the room to look for a suitable spot on which to deposit his hat…and ultimately stood it on he extreme corner of the chimney-piece…here his hat tumbled off the mantle-piece, so he stood up and fitted it in the same exact spot.” He managed to show that “there was a simple dignity in him” when he knew he was making a fool of himself and was embarrassing Pip. He knew he was not wanted and so he left.
Miss Havisham calls Pip in just to show him what Estella looks like now. Jaggers torments Sarah pocket at dinner with Pip’s great expectations. Pip is reminded that he has neglected to visit Joe. He feels bad but instead of visiting we learn that Pip starts to send gifts to Joe. Each time the gifts get more expensive and bigger, heightening the rudeness.
Estella who has shown Pip coldness his whole life is getting of his attention and love. Pip himself even says that he’s “never had an hour of happiness” when he’s with her. Estella replies “I know”. Yet Pip is still madly in l0ve with her. It shows that outward appearances are more important to Pip at the moment because he still hasn’t learnt to look at people as they are inside. Joe who has given Pip all the help and support he had needed his whole life had been neglected by Pip. He has the idea of a gentleman wrong.
When Herbert thinks that Estella isn’t right for Pip after Pip has told Estella of his true feelings for her, he tells Pip what he thinks. Only a true friend would do that for him, and a true gentleman.
Both Pip and Estella have been brought up in a dysfunctional way. They are both like puppets on string. They both had their lives manipulated in some way shape or form when they were young making their lives corrupt.
Pip lives an idle and purposeless life in London where he and Herbert join a club. We do see that he is starting to come “accustomed to my great expectations”. He is irresponsible towards Herbert because he is rubbing it in his face that Pip can afford to go to the club and live in a life of decadence all the time and Herbert can’t but he doesn’t show off that he is poor or whatever.
Soon after, he is informed that Mrs. Joe has died. Although Pip never liked his sister, he was shocked by her death “That place could possibly be without her is something in my mind seemed unable to compass”. The funeral was pompous and farcical, and was too grand; we see that there are even cakes, like plum cakes and cut up oranges, and other refreshments for the wake. Pip meaning it only to be a way of showing his appreciation but really looking like he was trying to show off his wealth. When biddy doubts that Pip will come to the forge more often to Joe it makes Pip angry and look down on biddy insensitively.
Pip now has an income of five hundred pounds per year and arrangements are made for Pip and Herbert to have a partnership, helping out Herbert. The extra money corrupts Pip making him live a life of decadence and unknowingly rubs it in Herbert’s face, that unknown to Pip, is actually deeply in debt.
Pip is now learning from Wemmick that selfless good deeds can bring happiness. He teaches Pip family values, making him think back to Joe and how he left him without visits.
On a stormy night while Herbert is away Pip is visited by the convict who Pip wants to dismiss as a ghost of the past. However Pip is moved by his tears and so decides to let him stay. Magwich later tells Pip that he is the benefactor of Pip’s large fortune. Pip decides to let the Abel Magwich stay because he is being chased by the authorities. The money earned by the convict was used to make Pip a gentle man. He learns that he has neglected Joe for a convict, who he had previously thought was Miss. Havisham. This makes Pip feel terrible. Ironic he has been paid for by the lowest of the low, a convict, instead of what he thought to be Miss Havisham, the highest of the high. Pip is bemused by Magwich who has taken such delight in seeing the man who he has turned into a gentleman.
Pip decides to stop accepting the money from the convict. As he does this he realises that his whole opinions about class and status are hypercritical. He has been shocked out of his snobbery and shaken out of his lethargy.
We learn about why Magwich went to jail and how one of his companions, Compeyson got off with a lighter sentence just because he sounded like a gentleman. This concept of a gentleman being liked to social status is mocked in Magwich’s story. Pip pleaded with Estella not to marry Drummel but she brushes him aside. His restraints to not punch Drummel show moral development and maturity.
All around him he can see odd and matching couples such as Herbert and Clara being the almost perfect, and Drummel and Estella being the odd couple. This shows that there is something corrupted about money and status in the upper classes instead of coupling with a person you truly love.
Pip goes to see Miss Haversham and is moved to pity by her loneliness. Pip badly burns his hands when he tries to stop the fire on her dress. This is a selfless act in which he also hurts himself. Since this night they have both become more reflective, and both start to talk openly with one another instead of putting on a front all the time.
Pip realises that Jaggers actually tried to do the right thing about Estella as a child. The meanest of the mean people in Pip’s eyes have turned out to be compassionate and caring for people. This may show Pip that outer appearances aren’t everything and that if one person who displays this type of character can be this kind it may make Pip see he could be kinder than he is being.
Pip shows heroic qualities when faces with Orlick by not going to the police because this will only incriminate Magwich and is also concerned about Joe and Biddy, and also Herbert who can no longer help. Also he states “A better man than I had been to Joe” to Magwich. We see here that Pip has finally realised how he has treated Joe and knows that his directions have been wrong. In knowing that Magwich is dying tells him what he has wanted to hear for most of his life, that his daughter is alive and well and that he loves her.
Pip is nearly arrested for debt and falls dangerously ill. Joe is sent by Biddy to look after him. Joe may not even be as well of as Pip but it shows that paying off the debts without a fuss shows the true character of a gentleman.
When Miss Haversham dies, most of her fortune was given to Mathew Pocket. We now see that even the bitter twisted Miss Havisham has turned out to have a heart after all, and realising that Mathew pocket is in need of money, and after her being so cruel hearted to all the pockets, she left them her unused large fortune. She had morally developed as well as Pip.
By going to the east Pip fulfils his great expectations of working his own way up to earn his own money and learn real moral values. He learns the real value of money and all along we see that Pip wasn’t in need of the money given to him by the convict and this was really just a lesson for Pip to learn.
Pip accepts the marriage of Joe and Biddy. He doesn’t make a fuss about it whatever his intensions may have been. He forgets his own feelings and becomes happy for Joe and Biddy. They have a son called Pip. Elder Pip realising the good in this is very happy and proud that they have a son called Pip. He could be angry that they even had a child together but instead he is very pleased for Joe and supports him. We see now that Pip has fully understood the true moral values of being a gentleman.
“No shadow of another parting from her” as he says at the end of the last chapter about Estella. She in herself has managed to become her own person.
Social status does not denote social morality. Pip had to learn to gain a true perspective on life and how things are. If you only have a small perspective then your world will crumble around you. Pip does eventually become a gentleman but without a false idea about what one is. It is ironic that his whole life Pip has had a good example of a true gentleman to follow – Joe – yet money and power can corrupt even the more innocent of minds.