How does Dickens use characters in Volume One to present the themes of ‘Great Expectations’? Essay Sample
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How does Dickens use characters in Volume One to present the themes of ‘Great Expectations’? Essay Sample
‘Great Expectations’ is a novel by Charles Dickens about a young, working class boy called Pip, brought up by his sister. Pip mysteriously inherits a large amount of money and is given the opportunity to become something he thought he would never be…a gentleman. The novel explores themes such as: Revenge, Family and Education.
Another theme of ‘Great Expectations’ is the distinction of classes in Victorian society and their importance. In Victorian times, there were lots of ways of deciphering which class a person was from, by simply looking at, or listening to them. When Pip first meets Magwitch, he notices that he is “a man with no hat”, the sign of a lower class person, although Pip is too afraid to look down on him due to this at the time. Higher-class people were thought to be superior to people in the lower classes and they hardly ever mixed or socialised. There was very little mobility between classes. Victorian society is in vast contrast to our own modern society because nowadays, people are a lot more accepting of others and are less discriminative of people who are dissimilar to themselves. Victorians in higher and lower classes were treated very differently to each other, whereas in modern times everybody is treated relatively equally and status, jobs, titles and money are a lot less significant.
The class system is relevant to ‘Great Expectations’ because this is the main theme of the novel and it is present from start to finish. ‘Great Expectations’ is all about the barrier between higher and lower class people and how it is shameful for higher class people to be seen mingling with people who are not of equal class, but also how the classes can all be deeply connected in someway. In addition, ‘Great Expectations’ also shows the bigotry and narrow-mindedness of the higher classes because when Pip’s windfall allowed him to become a gentleman, he became part of the social hierarchy, whereas previous to his inheritance, he was considered unimportant and was mocked by Estella, a proud higher-class girl who called him “common”.
Because the novel is from Pip’s point of view, readers will tend to think how he does, and at times, consider the higher-class people to be swollen with pride and self-righteous, although further in the novel we feel more distant towards him because he also becomes snobby, conceited and self-concerned.
Charles Dickens himself believed that the higher-classes were not as significant as Victorian society made them out to be, and that they did not deserve to be perceived as more vital in society, than the working class people were. He criticized Victorian society and believed it to be shallow and materialistic. Dickens saw wealth as a great corrupter, and he, like Pip, started life as a working class boy. In this novel, Dickens shows us how wealth can produce the least attractive kind of behaviour in some of the affluent characters and that the most loveable and amiable characters, and those who we can understand and sympathise with, are the characters that are from a poor, working class or criminal background.
Pip is the main character of the novel and it is narrated by Pip himself. On one hand, because the novel is written in first person, we have to rely on Pip’s opinions, and sometimes, Pip may be wrong. On the other hand, the novel is very clever because we can still relate to the other characters views and observe how they feel towards Pip. The novel is written from Pip’s adult point of view so it is quite humorous in parts and also quite detailed and complex.
The first theme Pip fits into is the theme of the class system. Pip was once content with his position in society, and when he was a child, he was quite happy to follow in the footsteps of his kind-hearted, honest, blacksmith brother-in-law, Joe Gargery. He did not regard himself as lower class because he had never really met any higher-class people to compare himself to. Joe worked for a living and Pip saw this as perfectly normal. There was always food on the table, somewhere to live, clothes for him to wear and other material comforts, so he did not consider himself poor or underprivileged. Another reason he did not get this impression is because Joe, the one person he looked up to, never complained about the conditions they were living in or the amount of money they were earning. The kinds of people that Pip was acquainted with were of the same circumstances and were living in the same environment, so Pip did not know any differently. They lived a harsh life but not an unrespectable one.
Everything changed the first time Pip met Estella because she insensitively made him aware that he was not as high a standard as her, or any other high-class people and that there were better ways of life to live. She made him become very self-conscious when she teased and ridiculed him because “he call the Knaves, Jacks”, and also because he had “coarse hands” and “thick boots”. She also made him feel inferior to her by calling him “boy”. “She was as scornful” of him “as if she had been one-and-twenty, and a queen” and “her contempt was so strong, that it became infectious” to Pip, and he began to resent himself and think cynically about things he had never thought about before. There is a point in the novel, after his first meeting with Estella when Pip gets extremely frustrated and has a tantrum because he loves Estella and she made him feel like a failure.
Miss Havisham humiliated him in front of her as well. Pip overreacts here slightly because although he is being insulted, we have already identified that Pip has a very active imagination and a hint of over sensitivity. We know this because at the beginning of the novel when Pip has to steal food from his own home to give to Magwitch, he has bizarre experiences of cracks in floorboards that can shout, “Stop thief!” and dead hares that can wink. He also imagines that everybody around him knows about what he has done and he is overcome with guilt. He is a very naï¿½ve child. I was quite shocked when Pip let Estella upset him as much as she did because before he met her, I felt that Pip was quite a strong character, as he had handled abuse from his bully of a sister for his whole life, and had overcome a traumatic episode with two runaway convicts.
Estella denounces Pip a “stupid, clumsy labouring-boy” and although this hurts him, he cannot help falling in love with her. He describes her as “beautiful”, “pretty” and “self-possessed”. Pip values what Estella says so much, that he starts to accept what she is calling him as true and believes himself to be what Estella calls him. She teaches him to hate himself, his background and his way of life. She is a very powerful influence and is excellent at messing with Pip’s mind, leading him on to believe things that are not true and causing him to doubt himself. Estella knows what she wants and will go to great lengths to get it, encouraged by Miss Havisham, who has taught her to break boy’s hearts and has chosen Pip for Estella to practice on. Miss Havisham is also the cause of many of Pip’s heartbreaking moments and she destroys his life.
Pip’s desire to become a gentleman started after his first meeting with Estella and he becomes frustrated because he thinks that even in his widest dreams, he would never be on the same level as her. Estella frustrates Pip further because he knows that he is not good enough for her. Pip becomes half-hearted towards becoming a blacksmith because of his strives for a rich and enviable life and also his love for Estella. The reason he loves Estella so much is because everything she has, he wants but cannot have. She is also very beautiful and leads Pip on to believe she likes him at times but then blows him off when he shows interest. Another reason is because Pip is desperate for love in his life. Pip becomes more determined to do something better with his life than become a blacksmith, so he can prove Estella wrong, but this leaves him torn between Estella and Joe, because he does not want to hurt Joe’s feelings. These are the two dearest people in his life and the two people which he loves the most, but he knows that in the end, someone will end up getting hurt.
Another way we can tell that Pip has become small-minded and affected by the class system is when he finds out that his benefactor is Magwitch, the convict. He is devastated because this man is not only a poor, dirty, foul, escaped criminal but Pip hates him because he made him steal food from his own family and scared him as a young boy. I do not know whether Pip would have accepted the money if he would have known that it belonged to Magwitch in the beginning, because although he really wanted to be of the same high class as Estella, accepting the money from a convict would have defeated the object because he was trying to become as detached and unconnected from his old life as possible. Pip assumes that only a gentleman can have the kindness to be a generous benefactor, but later discovers how wrong he is.
The second theme that Pip is represented by is the theme of family. Family had always come first for Pip but when he met Estella, Pip became ashamed of his family because they, like him, were working class and common. This is what he had been taught to believe by Estella. He had been, in a way, brainwashed by her and wondered what she would think of his family. He then begins to think that they were second-rate compared to Estella. This is the part of the novel where the reader is in major disagreement with Pip. Estella is presented as a home-wrecker and readers do not take kindly to her because she hurts Pip’s feelings and because Pip is the narrator, we can see how much she is really damaging his self-esteem.
Pip is the only one who feels true affection for Estella, and as a reader I feel helpless because I do not want Pip to hurt the feelings of the characters that love him the most, for example, Joe and Biddy. Although Pip does start to feel ashamed of his family, he does feel some guilt, especially towards Joe because all Joe has ever shown him has been love and adoration, and Pip is not returning this, as he did in his younger years. Pip feels less guilty about abandoning Joe because he is not his real son, and although Joe has been seen as a father figure, has cared for Pip, and offered him a job; he is willing to risk his friendship with Joe to become a gentleman. This shows Pip is selfish and self-interested. Because Pip and Joe had quite a carefree attitude to life, Pip may feel that Joe does not take their relationship too seriously and therefore is convincing himself that leaving Joe to become a gentleman is more acceptable. Pip has plainly taken advantage of Joe, and because he is always so kind, lenient and easy-going, Pip feels as though he can do as he chooses and he knows that Joe is not going to protest. Although Joe is upset because Pip will not be working with him, all he ever wanted for Pip, was to for him be happy and he is not going to take Pip’s dream of becoming a gentleman away from him, even though he may feel used and like the years they spent together meant nothing to Pip. Joe is optimistic and tries to make the best of every situation.
Due to Pip’s egotistical attitude, his relationship with Joe deteriorates and when Pip abandons all of the people that love him, it shows us that Pip is self-seeking and is turning into the hard-hearted kind of person that we recognize Estella to be. This is quite appropriate because both Estella and Pip were orphaned as children and come from the same backgrounds and lacked maternal love, as Estella was only brought up by Miss Havisham as a part of her plan for revenge against men, and Pip was orphaned as a baby by his older sister who feels he has wrecked her life and who did not really want him.
It looks possible that Pip and Estella are both going to share the same fate too: lonely and unhappy. Being orphaned by his big sister Mrs Joe, who “brought him up by hand” might have rubbed off on Pip, and this may have been where his negative, unsatisfied and wanting attitude came from because Mrs Joe was always moaning and faultfinding towards life. This is quite ironic because at the beginning of the novel, Pip’s personality was the complete opposite of hers, and for the first time in the novel it shows that Mrs Joe may have also been a playful and happy child like Pip once was, and how a person can change so much. Another example of change is how, by the end of the novel, we cannot distinguish any similarities between Joe and Pip’s attitudes, as we could at the beginning of the novel.
Overall, Pip’s family and close friends have become second best to Estella and his new life and he realises that the people who’s lifestyles he envied at the beginning, for example, Miss Havisham and Estella, are very discontented with life, even though they have everything money can buy, and that the poorer people he knew at the beginning of the novel are the happiest characters, because even though they lacking in material positions, they have love and friendship to live by. Pip is lucky that these people have not disowned him because of his egocentricity and that they are still forgiving and loving towards him. By the end of the novel, Pip recognizes that these are also the people who he most enjoys the company of. I think that this situation is true to the saying: “money cannot buy happiness”.
The second character that I am going to discuss is Magwitch, the convict that Pip supplies with food and a metal file at the beginning of the novel. Apart from Pip, Magwitch is one of the first characters we meet and although he makes a great impact on us in the opening chapters, he then seems of no importance because he does not reappear until nearer the end of the novel.
The first theme that Magwitch fits into is the theme of the class system. In Victorian times, Magwitch would have been seen as a man on the very lowest rungs of social hierarchy. He is filthy and unhygienic. He is a poverty stricken criminal with no material possessions. He is lonely and unloved. But even with all of these imperfections he is still a very determined, positive and confident person, which makes him an especially strong, likeable, and in some ways, comic character to the reader, although this does not come across at first. This is an additional example of how the lower class characters are a lot more attractive that the higher class snobby ones.
Although Magwitch is described as an animal, for example, in the way he eats, and the way he treats Pip at the beginning of the novel, there are a few subtle lines which hint to us that Magwitch is not as cold-hearted and beast-like as he first seems, and as readers, we are left feeling sorry for him. When Magwitch re-emerges to confess to being Pip’s benefactor we still understand him to be a disgusting creature because the novel is from Pip’s point of view, and he does not agree with Magwitch’s return because he was once an object of fear and caused Pip to be disloyal. He returns as almost a different man because he shows us that he is not hard-hearted and ruthless but that he has feelings and a heart of gold. Pip also sees him for the vulgar, ill-mannered, unrefined man that he once was and is slow to accept that Magwitch loves him, as he is the only person to ever show kindness towards Magwitch. This is another reason why we are left feeling sympathy for Magwitch.
We can tell Magwitch is lower class because he has a “terrible voice”. He has a common accent and uses slang and improper words, which do not make sense. He is also quite direct and frightening because he is not scared to tell Pip exactly what he is going to do with him. Magwitch is a “fearful man, all in coarse gray”. The coarse grey clothes are a sign of poverty because they were dark and did not show up the dirt as much. Magwitch was “a man with a great iron on his leg”, which shows that he is an escaped criminal. Because Magwitch was dragging this “great iron” behind him, he would have walked with a limp, a zombie-like walk, and this may have scared Pip. Magwitch was also ” a man with no hat, and with broken shoes” which shows how deprived and poor he is. He is “a man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped and shivered and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head.” This description of Magwitch indicates that he has been on a treacherous walk to try to escape. We feel pity for Magwitch here and we feel the depth of desperation that he is really in. Magwitch seems very impatient because he is cold and hungry and in terrible pain.
Magwitch is quite a violent man because we see him threatening Pip, a small and vulnerable boy in eerie surroundings. The reason he was so convincing to Pip that he would kill him is because he was literally starving to death and was in desperate need of food. He knew that the only way to get what he wanted was to scare Pip into it because he was a weak target. When Pip brought Magwitch food, he was extremely surprised because he was not expecting Pip to come back, to not tell the authorities or to bring him any food at all. Pip did not see this as an act of kindness because he was acting out of fear but Magwitch saw Pip as the only person to ever show consideration for him as he had lived most of his life in places where he was not well thought of or inhumanely treated. We also see that Magwitch is violent when he fights the second convict but later in the novel we can sympathise with Magwitch because we find out why they are enemies.
The story of Magwitch is ironic because although he is of no significance or status and he is presented as such an animal at the beginning of the novel, he has the riches to become a gentleman, something he has never experienced. He has a chance to be seen differently for once in his life and yet, he gives everything he has ever worked for, to Pip, who wastes it all in a short amount of time and when he finds out that it belonged to Magwitch, he is ungrateful. But still, Magwitch does not care. Pip is the only thing that has kept him alive and he feels that Pip is the closest person to him, almost like a son.
He feels Pip will make the most out of the money and will have greater joy out of it that he ever could. We feel empathy towards Magwitch at this point because he loves Pip but has never been cared for by him and Pip has actually tried his hardest to forget him. Another reason we feel so close and compassionate towards Magwitch is because he tries to change Pip from an arrogant, self-centred man to a loving and caring one. I think Magwitch is the person who finally makes Pip see that money does not mean everything and that family and loved ones are important too. Magwitch would have been a great father to Estella as he has so much love to give. At the beginning, Magwitch is probably the most hated, terrified and disgusting characters but by the end we realise that Magwitch is one of kindest hearted characters throughout the whole novel.
Magwitch is also used to represent the theme of revenge. He has been treated so badly and insignificantly through his whole life by society and he uses Pip as his revenge against it. It is as if Magwitch is trying to prove to the world that he can create something special and sophisticated and to prove that not everything associated with him is substandard. Both Pip and Magwitch were lower class and Magwitch is showing people who do not believe that a lower class person can successfully become a higher-class person that it can really happen. It is as if Magwitch is proving himself to all the people that doubted him and punished him through Pip and at the same time helping a loyal friend’s dreams to come true.
He is proving that anyone at all can reach the top of the social hierarchy given the right amount of money and education and anyone at all can also earn a fortune – even a criminal. Magwitch is an example of how one of the first characters and one of the most vital to the storyline can be of the lowest class and that one persons ‘Great Expectations’ for another to become a gentleman, can become reality if you put in lots of determination, hard work, optimism and hope into it, hence the title of the novel. Although Pip did prove to be a successful gentleman for a short while, he soon realised that it was not all he had envisaged it would be and became dissatisfied, so in the end I do not think that Magwitch carried out his task of making Pip into a gentleman. The reason Pip was not a successful gentleman is because he had already experienced the other side to life and the novel shows that in Victorian society you could either live a happy but poor life or a wealthy, spoilt and life of always wanting more.
The third character I am going to assess is Miss Havisham. The main theme that she symbolises is the theme of revenge. Miss Havisham is the most arresting character of the novel because she is so morbid, dull and lifeless and quite a direct character. Miss Havisham is one of the strongest characters and this is quite ironic because in Victorian society, women were thought to be second rate to men and stereotyped as the weaker sex. This is the case in most of the female characters of ‘Great Expectations’ as the men seem out of power, disliked, indecisive or weak. The reason for Miss Havisham’s deadly attitude towards life is because she was jilted on her marriage day by the one and only man she ever loved.
She is used by Dickens to highlight the pointlessness of Revenge because although she thinks that she is getting her vengeance on the world through Estella and she feels that she is the one getting the better out of her ex-fiancï¿½ by doing this, she is actually sacrificing her life and happiness to make others unhappy and to destroy their lives although she does not realise it. She assumes that because one man broke her heart then the rest of the male population are the same. She dwells on the past and the unhappiness in her life so she is never going to be able to move on. The word that sums Miss Havisham up the most is the word ‘stubborn’. She needs to learn to forgive and forget and live life for the present and not let her history get the better of her. Her revenge is ineffective because she ends up hurting the people that care for rather than settling the score with her ex-fiancï¿½ who is no longer concerned about her. Miss Havisham is quite pathetic because instead of disregarding her past, she is forfeiting her own well-being and mental state.
Miss Havisham feels that she is doing Estella a favour by training her to hate men because then Estella will not have to go through what she experienced on her wedding day. By training Estella to be cruel, remote and heartless she is jeopardising Estella’s life because although she is physically beautiful, nobody could ever love her for who she is because she would have a nasty personality. This is why Estella was foolish not to return her love for Pip because he was the only one that could see her for who she really was and loved her with all his heart. Miss Havisham was also foolish for not agreeing with Pip and Estella having a relationship because if she loved Estella, she would want a happy and loving future for her with a devoted and affectionate husband – Pip, rather than a broken heart due to a loveless marriage with Beau Drummel, who only married her to make Pip jealous. This shows Miss Havisham’s selfishness because she was willing to lay Estella’s happiness on the line as long as her revenge plan against men goes right.
Miss Havisham distances herself from the rest of the world by imprisoning herself in Satis house. ‘Satis’ actually means enough. This is quite ironic because the people who live there have quite the opposite: Miss Havisham is always wanting more revenge on men and Estella is never content with what she has and both lead very unhappy lives although they will not admit to it. Miss Havisham refuses to see leave the house after she is jilted and also refuses to see the light of day. By doing this, Miss Havisham is sticking herself in time and reminding herself of how she felt when her fiancï¿½ ran away, for example, leaving the banquet to rot with time, stopping the clocks, and keeping her wedding dress on. She must be feeling lonelier as each day goes by.
Miss Havisham should be the freest character because she has the money and the status to go wherever and mix with whomever she likes but she is actually the most trapped and isolated. Dickens’ use of the words: uncared for, abandoned, unloved, rotting and dusty to describe Satis house also signify Miss Havisham and the state of her decaying mind. She feels trapped and unable to get out, signified by the bars on the boarded windows. Miss Havisham has grown old with the house. She has been soured because her fiancï¿½ left her on her wedding day and she has got too much pride to let him get away with it. This is quite dramatic because by doing this she is risking the rest of her life and making herself miserable and driving herself to destruction. I think she shows sensitivity here because she is so upset about something that most people would be able to overcome and it shows us that under her hard core, there must be a soft side to Miss Havisham, but pride and stubbornness mean that we never get to see this side of her.
Overall, Miss Havisham is one of the strongest and most vital characters in the story because if it were not for her plan for revenge against men, Pip would not have been sent to Satis house and therefore would not have met Estella and discovered the different class systems.
I am now going to discuss Estella and her influence on the reader. Estella mainly fits into the theme of education. Estella ironically started life in one of then poorest backgrounds that there could be, her father a criminal and her mother a lower class servant who are both presented as unattractive but likeable characters, quite the opposite to Estella who is extremely beautiful with a very distasteful personality. Miss Havisham, who becomes a kind of surrogate mother to Estella, orphaned her as a child. Estella has no other family and has never really known anybody else very well until she meets Pip.
Miss Havisham wanted to bring Estella up so she could be part of her plot against mankind. She trains Estella to look down on others, especially boys, and to be proud and remote. Estella does not know any better and learns from Miss Havisham that nobody superior to her and that she can have anything she wants. She is spoilt, and Miss Havisham rewards unattractive and arrogant behaviour with praise and showers her with material possessions such as jewels to reinforce her training. Estella will do anything on Miss Havisham’s instructions and mocks Pip deliberately even though he does nothing to insult her. Pip is truly upset by this because he is so in love with Estella but we get annoyed with Pip for being madly obsessed with her because we cannot see the attraction.
I feel that Estella has been made to grow up too quickly and that she has been brainwashed by Miss Havisham not to trust anybody else. She occasionally shows genuine emotion for example, she shows enjoyment when Pip and Herbert Pocket are fighting. Here we see that she is not totally inhuman and that she does have a childish and playful side but she only shows this when Miss Havisham is not there. In Miss Havisham’s company, she is an attention-seeking creep because she wants to be praised and be reassured that she is doing well. Estella also shows emotion in the form of sadness when she is suffering from her violent marriage to Beau Drummel. Because the novel is from Pip’s point of view we do not know what Estella is really thinking and she is not seen as having any emotions or sensitivity so the reader does not know whether there is kindness and warmth under her icy and distant surface.
Ultimately, Estella becomes an object of pity and we are finally left feeling sorry for her because her life is so bleak and such a failure. We also sympathise with her because she has never known true love or accepted it as she would not marry Pip and she never knew her tender father Magwitch. Miss Havisham never loved Estella because she was only ever part of her plan of revenge. Another reason I do not think Miss Havisham ever loved Estella is because she was too scared to love somebody again after her first love walked out on her and left her heartbroken. Miss Havisham does not praise Estella with love but with material possessions instead. Estella’s future looks very drab and it is probably likely that she will end up a lonely old woman like Miss Havisham up to near the last few chapters of the novel, although we know that Pip saves her from this fate. Estella will never have fond memories from her childhood because she could never afford to be a fun loving child because she was under constant demand to please and obey Miss Havisham, to take her role in Miss Havisham’s plan seriously and to learn Miss Havisham’ harsh and unenthusiastic attitude towards life.
The final character I am going to consider is Joe. The theme that Joe fits into most is the theme of family. Family is special to Joe because for once in his life he is in a situation where he is living with the people who he loves and who love him back. Joe’s father was a drunkard who used to beat his mother up. Joe is a caring man, and has been all of his life, because even though his father did cruel things to his mother, he still looked after him when he was dying.
I do not think Joe can bring himself to be demanding or harmful to anybody. The reason Joe is such a mentally weak character and tolerates with verbal and sometimes physical abuse from Mrs Joe is because he has witnessed the pain that he and his mother suffered and he does not want to put Mrs Joe or Pip in that situation by physically harming any of them. The reason Joe never stops Mrs Joe from beating him is because the only way, is to beat her back. He has the physical strength but is reluctant because he does not want to sink to his fathers level. He can cope with Mrs Joe’s beating because being a blacksmith; he is very strong so he feels that getting beat up by Mrs Joe is worth not sinking to his fathers level. Both Joe and Mrs Joe know they are lucky to have each other but do not always show this compassion. Everything to describes Joe emphasises warmth for example, the forge whereas everything to describe Miss Havisham emphasises cold, for example Satis House. These also represent the emotional
Joe feels as though Pip is the only person who really understands him. They are best friends and they both feel that they can confide in each other and tell each other anything. Although Joe is Pip’s brother-in-law, he is more like a father figure towards him and looks out for him. They have a lot in common and very similar personalities because they feel the same way about lots of things, for example, Mrs Joe beating and controlling them. Mrs Joe treats them both like children and because Joe never really had a proper education because of a disturbed upbringing, him and Pip are on par with each other despite the age difference because Joe is like a child. Joe’s lack of education does not make him less likeable to the reader but actually makes him seem more charming and adorable. Both Joe and Pip feel equal like equals towards each other.
Joe treats Pip with respect and kindness and how he would like to be treated. He is very fair, optimistic, open and not defensive. He hates arguments. Joe sees Pip as a playmate because he always comment on “what larks” they have together. Joe is very encouraging of Pip and would like him to do the best for himself. He is an honest man and gladly tells Pip about his sad background, but instead of making Pip feel sorry for him, he makes the best of the bad situation and instead of naming his father for the drunkard, violent man he was, he tells Pip that he was good at heart. This reinforces my point about Joe being unable to see the bad in people and shows that he is a very forgiving man. It is quite surprising that Joe can come from a violent background but still so loving and gentle. I suppose that it demonstrates that children do not have to be anything like their parents, for example, Estella.
On the other hand, Joe’s softness may be because he does not want to inflict pain on anyone as his father did. He knows the pain that he has suffered and would not wish it on anybody. Joe is very content with his life with Mrs Joe and Pip, his home and his job because it is in major contrast with his unhappy childhood. Joe must not have had many friends as a child or a stable relationship with anybody because he never went to school. This makes his relationship with Pip more special and even stronger. Joe does his best to make Pip’s life as a good as it possibly can be and this is why it is such a pity when Pip rejects him to go and live the life of a gentleman and leaves him alone. Joe is terrible upset that Pip feels that becoming a gentleman is more important than him but he is too scared of ruining Pip’s dream that he will not confront him.
Overall, Joe is the most likeable character and the one who we feel we can relate to the most because he is very down to earth and caring. We feel sorry for him because it is as though Pip has taken advantage of him and showed him the cold shoulder when all Joe ever showed Pip was love and devotion.
Through ‘Great Expectations’ Dickens has shown us the lives, problems and happiness’ that people from every type of background can experience and share. There is a moral to the story and this is not to look down on people who are less fortunate because you might not always be who you think you are. For example, Estella looked down on Pip for being from a working class, common background but she was unaware that her father was a criminal and her mother a servant. The nicest people in the novel are the ones who can accept people from all walks of life. Dickens also tried to show us that wealth is not everything. It can change people tremendously and it does not buy happiness.