Great expectation is a novel about a young boy who grows up to be a man with great expectations. He goes to London from the marches of Kent to become a gentleman. ‘Great expectations’, a Bildungsroman, (a novel which traces the spiritual, moral’ psychological or social development and growth of the protagonist from childhood to maturity) explores themes such as ambitions, money, class, self knowledge, justice, humanity, and pride. The novel is seen as semi autobiographical, as dickens has written the novel in first person narrative. Dickens explores the issues of class education and the penal system throughout the novel as pip is the narrator of the novel, this tells us what he thinks now that he has become mature and it also shows the reader the way he looks back and thinks that he was foolish when he was young.
In chapter one the reader learns that Pip “never saw” his father or mother. His parents died when he was small, leaving Pip alone. This makes the reader feel pity for Pip as he doesn’t have a father or mother. As he doesn’t have a family this makes Pip feel that he doesn’t have an identity. The reader also learns that, Pip had “five brothers” who gave up trying to get a living exceeding early in that universal”. Pip and his family went through poverty as they constantly were struggling. They also had bad living conditions and couldn’t handle it anymore. Pip is solitary and very unsettled. He is a “…small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry”. Pip might have a bad life when he grows up as he is frightened of everything. The encounter with the convict teaches us that is innocent and doesn’t know what’s right and what’s wrong. A feature of a Bildungsroman that is present in great expectations is ancestry as it talks about Pip’s parents. Pip is the protagonist who has suffered the lost of his family. ‘Great expectation’ shows us pips life as he strives through poverty and his bad living condition.
Chapter two tells the reader that Pip lives with his sister and she bought him up “by hand”, meaning she beats Pip up and is very cruel to Pip. Pip’s sister is dreadful to pip even though he doesn’t even have his parents. Pip, Mrs Joe Gargery and Mr Joe Gargery are not as poor as they are shown in the novel, they do have some savings, but only used on special occasions like Christmas. Pip and Joe get along with each other very well. Pip takes Joe as a friend and thinks Joe is a great man. Pip and Joe are “fellow suffers”, they both have something in common as they both get beaten up by Mrs Joe Gargery.
In chapter three the author shows how Pip as he takes food to the convict. Pip is shown scared, and intimidated. He is frightened by everything, and compares himself to a “goblin” as they as mischievous and evil. Pip is disobedient by stealing food and taking it to the convict. Dickens had used the term “blade to blade” to suggest that pip is being dangerous and the convict can kill him. Pip is frightened by the “spider’s web, hanging from twig to twig”, he is terrified that it might fall on him. Pip feels guilty and fearful as he is doing something he shouldn’t be doing. A ghostly feeling is created by the “oppressed conscience like a phantom”. This shows that Pip is scared of ghosts and feels that there is a ghost that is watching him. The setting, “marsh mist was so thick”, explains what kind of place Pip is in and it seems as a sinister, cold and gloomy place. Charles Dickens shows Pips feelings by the setting used; he has also used menacing word to show how terrified Pip is.
In chapter eight, pip visits Miss Havisham’s home. He is confronted with a strange environment and with two different people, who he has never met before. Dickens shows the obvious class difference between Pip and Miss Havisham. “She was dressed in rich materials-satin, laces and silks”, this description shows that Miss Havisham is wealthy as she wears expensive clothes. This contrast with Pips “thick boots” which indicates that Miss Havisham is socially superior to Pip realises he is a working class and feels “humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended, angry and sorry”.
The word “sorry” suggest that he is regretting going to Miss Havisham’s house. Pip feels bad about himself and the way he is, Pip is hurt as he is insulted by Estella. Before he visited the satis house he has never questioned his class and social status. In the earlier chapters Pip did not displayed and discontentment of his status. This is because all his family members are also working class. Using the first person narrative, dickens is able to create sympathy for Pip because he has shown his emotions, by being the narrator. Estella is very rude to Pip as she is higher class women. “He calls the knaves, jack, and this boy”. The way she says ‘this boy’ shows us that she treats Pip with disrespect as Pip is from a lower class family than her, but Pip finds out he is lower class in chapter eight after looking at Estella. Pip has fallen in love with Estella and wants to woo her. Pip desires to find a place in the society and for people to know who he is.
Pip has changed through chapter ten to fourteen; he has changed his thoughts and views about Joe. “…I was truly wretched, and have a strong conviction on me that I should never like Joe’s trade. I had liked it once, but not now” Pip is ashamed of Joe as he is not an upper class person. He also blames Joe for him not being a higher class person. Pip doesn’t tell Joe anything now. “I said nothing to him”, this indicates that Pip does not trust Joe like he did before, and he also doesn’t take Joe as a friend anymore. Pip doesn’t tell Joe as much. Pip wants to be high class person “it is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home”. Pip has started feeling discomfited of where he lives and how it looks because it is not the way an upper class house would look like. Pip has become more aware of the class system and the novel has linked onto a Bildungsroman as great expectation talks about everything involved in a Bildungsroman since it talks about Pips life like an autobiography. It also ancestry and education, as the protagonist Pip has lost his father and Pip has not been educated.
Great expectation also talks about Pip’s desire, going to London and becoming a gentleman. As well as talking about Pips desires Charles Dickens has also mentioned Pips social life and the conditions he lives in. The other theme that makes Great Expectation similar to a Bildungsroman is love the fact that Pip is falling in love with Estella.
As Pip is the narrator of the novel you get two perspectives as Pip tells story of younger Pip. Pip is also small and uneducated. The reader knows the feelings of Pip as he is the narrating it himself. Dickens wants the reader to feel pity for Pip. Dickens tries to tell us what Pip is like in the beginning. Dickens is successful in establishing Pips character, as he makes the reader feel pity for Pip. Dickens wants the reader to find out Pips thoughts now that he is older.