Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations in mid Victorian England in 1861. This was a time of great change because people where being sorted into classes. English middle classes began to rise. Also the novel reflects people moving from the countryside to the city at that time. Provides, historical and social contexts and people change industrial revolution. Great Expectations deals with the social changes during the time it was written. Some of the main concerns are to be rich, to be loved, to be admired and to be happy. It is a fictional Victorian novel. In this essay, I will be looking at how Pip changes in part 1 of Great Expectations.
We first meet Pip at the beginning of the book, at the graveyard. It is Christmas Eve. Pip describes the scenery as around the graveyard as “the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea.” He is visiting his dead parents and his five dead brothers. He is thinking about his parents. when a man approaches him. He describes the man as “A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with great iron on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head.” This tells us that this man who has approached him frightens Pip.
This man is a convict on the run from the hulks (a prison ship). His name is Magwitch. He asks pip to bring him some “file” and some “wittles”. He threatens Pip that if he does not get the food he will get tortured. Magwitch says “You fail, or you go from my words in any partickler, no matter how small it is, and your heart and your liver shall be tore out, roasted and ate.” The meeting is important because it tells us that Pip is a small, easily frightened boy. He is forced to steal food from his home to feed the starving, ragged convict. Pip steals food from his family larder because he has been tempted because Magwitch said that if Pip does not bring the food Magwitch is going to tell his friend to hurt Pip. Pip did not do anything wrong he has been misguided. The meeting takes place in the graveyard with bleak surroundings. This suggests that, Dickens wanted to make Magwitch into a scary person. After meeting Magwitch, it has some after effects; it makes Pip into a criminal and a liar, by stealing the food and lying about it.
Pip runs back home, this is where we first see his sister, Mrs Joe Gargery. Pip lives with his sister and her husband, Mr Joe Gargery. His home life is strict and his expectations are to do whatever his sister tells him to do and to follow her rules. Joe is a blacksmith. Pip and Joe are, as Pip says, “brought up by hand.” Pip treats Joe like he is one of his friends. Joe is described as “a fair man, with curls of flaxen hair on each side of his smooth face, and with eyes of such a very undecided blue that they seemed to somehow got mixed with their own whites. He was a mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish, dear fellow – a sort of Hercules in strength, and also in weakness.” This is different from Mrs Joe; she is “with black hair and eyes, had such a prevailing redness of skin that I sometimes used to wonder whether it was possible she washed herself with a nutmeg-grater instead of soap.
She was tall, bony and almost always wore a coarse apron, fastened over her figure behind with two loops, and having a square impregnable bib in front, that was stuck full of pins and needles.” She treats Pip like her own son. She sometimes hits him with a “ticker”. Pip is worried about getting the food for Magwitch. He wants to get it done with without anyone finding out. At the start of the book Pip expects, as a young man, to grow up to be working class, be a blacksmith like his uncle and marry a village girl.
The suspense is building up about Christmas day and Pip is getting worried that he is going to get caught. At the Christmas dinner we meet Uncle Pumblechook, he is Joe’s uncle. Mrs Joe appropriated him, but Pip sees him as a large hard-breathing middle-aged slow man, with a mouth like a fish, dull staring eyes, and sandy hair standing upright on his head.” All the conversations at the table are being pointed at Pip, like if the young have to behave them self they are blaming it on Pip and they are also saying that Pip should be grateful that he has been brought up by hand. Uncle Pumblechook is about to have a drink and he suddenly started to cough, as Pip had filled it up with tar water. Pip is worried that they are going to find out that the pork pie is missing, so he tries to make a run. But when he get to the door the sergeant and a party of soldiers are standing there, with a pair of handcuffs, asking Joe if he can fix them. Pip sees Magwitch again. This time we see the other convict.
Although Uncle Pumblechook is upper class to Pip. He is important because he takes Pip to see Mrs Havisham. Mrs Havisham is a lady who wanted Pip to come and play. The first person Pip meets at Satis House is a girl called Estella. She treats Pip like he is a lower class person, although she is lower class her self, but Pip does not find this out until later and treats her as a higher class person. When they first meet she calls him “boy”. After this meeting he goes home and tells Joe, Mrs Joe and Uncle Pumblechook what he had done. When Uncle Pumblechook goes home, Pip tells Joe the truth about what had happened.
In chapter 18, Pip and Joe meet Jaggers, who is a layer from London. He informs Joe that Pip has Great Expectations. He calls Pip ‘Mr Pip’. He leaves the Pip’s house, after giving him some money to buy some clothes saying specifically that he does not want Pip to buy working clothes. Jaggers influences Pip and his life because Pip knows that he will be a gentleman. After the meeting with Jaggers, Pip and Joe tell Biddy what has happened. Biddy teaches him ‘letters’. Pip treats Biddy like Joe.
The time with Miss Havisham and Estella changes Pip, he becomes less mature, more arrogant, loses his self-confidence and sees himself as poor. He wants to be a gentleman. A gentleman was someone who was upper class and rich. Pip wants to become one because he wants to marry Estella, as he thinks she is upper class. Pip has changed since the beginning; he used to be a easily frightened little boy and now he is a mature gentleman. His views of other people has changed too.
Pip’s relationship with Joe, at the end of the first part is good. He does not want to leave Joe and go to the city. He looks up to Joe and treats him like a friend. But when Pip goes to London, and Joe comes to visit him he calls Pip ‘Sir’. Joe has a talk with Pip and leaves. They are not as close to each other as before. This tells us that Pip has changed from a village working class boy, to a gentleman. Pip feels embarrassed by Biddy and Joe he tries to keep his distance from them because he is embarrassed because Pip is living in London and he doesn’t want anybody to know that his sister’s husband is a blacksmith.