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UNIVERSITATEA DIN CRAIOVA

FACULTATEA DE LITERE
ENGLEZĂ, ZI

LUCRARE DE LICENŢĂ

Conducător ştiinţific,
Lector univ. dr. SORIN CAZACU

Absolvent,
DRĂGUȚ GHE.IRINA
NICOLETA- DANIELA

CRAIOVA
2018
UNIVERSITATEA DIN CRAIOVA
FACULTATEA DE LITERE
ENGLEZĂ, ZI

Social Emancipation in Great Expectations


by Charles Dickens

Conducător ştiinţific,
Lector univ. dr. SORIN CAZACU

Absolvent,
DRĂGUȚ GHE. IRINA
NICOLETA- DANIELA

CRAIOVA
2018
CUPRINS
Chapter 1

1.1 Social and Historical Background

Despite any literary controversy over Dickens' style, most critics agree that Great
Expectations is his best book. The story, while set in the early part of the 1800s, was written in 1860
during the Victorian era that began with the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837 and lasted until
her death in 1901. Virtues emphasized at that time included integrity, respectability, a sense of
public duty, and maintaining a close-knit family. The period of the novel was a time of change.
England was expanding worldwide and becoming a wealthy world power. The economy was
changing from a mainly agricultural one to an industrial and trade-based one. With increasing
technological changes came clashes with religion, and increasing social problems. Machines were
making factories more productive, yet raw sewage spilled into London streets, people lived in
terrible conditions as slums lined the banks of the Thames. Children as young as five were being
forced to work twelve and thirteen hours a day at a poverty wage.
While the world became more democratic, so, too, did literature. Unlike the romantic
literature that preceded it, literature that focused on the glories of the upper classes, Victorian
literature focused on the masses. The people wanted characters, relationships, and social concerns
that mattered to them, and they had the economic power to demand it. Novels were published in
magazines in serial form in ten or twenty weekly or monthly installments and if readers didn't care
for a particular story, circulation dropped and the magazine lost money. Consequently, magazines
worked hard to keep their readers interested, in suspense, and buying the next copy. Dickens
published Great Expectations in weekly installments that ran from December 1860 until August
1861.
In keeping with the desire to please readers, Dickens, on the advice of a novelist friend,
changed the ending of the story from a sad one to a happy one. The different ending has been a
point of controversy for readers and literary critics ever since. George Bernard Shaw felt the happy
ending was an "outrage," especially because "apart from this the story is the most perfect of
Dickens' works." Controversy aside, Great Expectations with the happy ending was a major success
for both Dickens and his magazine.

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The story is written as a first-person story, and most consider it a retrospective one. Pip, as
an older man, tells his life's story and comment on it along the way. However, the narrator's voice
sometimes gets confusing, almost as if the younger Pip is talking.
The story has a three-part structure similar to that of a play, which is fitting, given that
Dickens was involved in the theater for many years, writing, producing, and acting in plays.
The plot is complicated and twisting, full of surprises and complexities (part of the requirement of
keeping magazine audiences interested from week–to-week). Dickens includes a tremendous
number of and detail for his characters, and although some critical reviewers have suggested that his
characters were one-dimensional, out of control, and therefore not true representations of real
people, reviewer Thomas Connolly suggests that Dickens was at a high point for character
development in Great Expectations: "Dickens had learned how to make his characters complex so
that they function economically both in the basic plot and in the thematic presentation."
Other elements to be aware of include Dickens' use of humor and satire, irony, repetition to
create tension, and the use of inanimate objects to convey emotion. You can find multitudes of
interpretations as to what the novel "means;" however, most reviewers place the major themes of
the novel into three broad categories: moral, psychological, and social.
Moral themes include good versus evil, moral redemption from sin, wealth and its equal power to
help or corrupt, personal responsibility, and the awareness and acceptance of consequences from
one's choices. Psychological themes, explored through Pip's personal and moral growth, include
abandonment, guilt, shame, desire, secrecy, gratitude, ambition, and obsession/emotional
manipulation versus real love. Social themes that show up in the book include class structure and
social rules, snobbery, child exploitation, the corruption and problems of the educational and legal
systems, the need for prison reform, religious attitudes of the time, the effect of the increasing trade
and industrialization on people's lives, and the Victorian work ethic.
In Dickens’s work, it is often quite hard for characters to know for certain what class people
belong to, or to be sure that they are who they claim to be. Class identity thus becomes a matter of
performance, not linked in any essential way to the job that you do or the wealth that you have. This
is particularly so in the urban encounters that he portrays. Class becomes something not given but
created, a range or repertoire of performances and roles, each with different possibilities and
dangers attached. Many of Dickens’s characters are performers who are unwilling simply to accept
their given place in society but are determined to transform it into something different, better or
more spectacular. This of course gives great scope for deceit, falsity and self-deception – and for
comic misunderstandings. The superficial prosperity of the British society made people pursue
money and status blindly, and the Great Expectations is a vivid reflection of the whole society’

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status quo. At that time, people only saw the prosperous aspect of the society, and everyone went
after wealth and status. Actually, Pip came from a poor family, and when he saw Estella for the first
time, he fell in love with her, and later in order to win the love of Estella, he hoped that he could be
a real gentleman so as to match Estella. The sense of vanity influenced by the whole society drove
Pip to become a member of the upper class.
Throughout Great Expectations, Dickens explores the class system of Victorian England,
ranging from the most wretched criminals (Magwitch) to the poor peasants of the marsh country
(Joe and Biddy), to the middle class (Pumblechook), and to the very rich (Miss Havisham).

1.2 The life and work of Charles Dickens

More than any British writer other than Shakespeare, Dickens has engaged the popular
imagination with his crowded gallery of memorable characters and his detailed rendering of the life
of his times. The most important writer of his time, Dickens is often seen as the quintessential
Victorian. “Dickens’s England” has almost become synonymous with Victorian England. Since he
frequently based hisbcharacters on real people and used real places particularly the streets and
neighborhoods of London as settings for his tales, the connections between his fictional world and
the actual world of Victorian England have fascinated his readers. Dickens enthusiasts have often
applied themselves sometimes overzealously to connecting the people and places in the novels with
counterparts in the real world. Understanding the historical context in which Dickens worked is
especially important to understanding his life and his novels.
Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England, the second child of
John Dickens, a clerk in the Navy Pay Office there, and Elizabeth Barrow Dickens. The family
moved a good deal during Dickens’s childhood, as his father was transferred from one station to
another: in 1815 to London while John worked at Somerset House, and in 1817 to Chatham in
Kent, where the boy spent the happiest years of his childhood. For five years he roamed in the
countryside, observed the activities in the bustling seaport town, and began his education with
William Giles , the son of the local Baptist minister, who thought him an exceptional student. But
in 1822, when John Dickens returned to London and the family took up residence at 16 Bayham
Street , Camden town, the boy’s prospects darkened. The family’s straitened finances meant that
Charles was not able to continue his education. When his mother undertook to increase the family
income by operating a school herself, the family moved, in 1823, to a house suitable for the project
at 4 Gower Street, but the school failed to attract any pupils.

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When the family again fell into financial difficulties in 1827, they were evicted from their
house for nonpayment of rent. Fanny withdrew from the Royal Academy of Music, and Charles left
Wellington House to work as a solicitor’s clerk in the offices of Ellis and Blackmore, Gray’s inn .
There he quickly learned shorthand and in 1828 became a shorthand reporter in Doctors’
Commons . He became so proficient as a shorthand reporter that in 1831 he moved on to record
verbatim the proceedings in Parliament for the Mirror of Parliament , a paper managed by his
uncle, John Henry Barrow, and in 1832 became a regular reporter for the True Sun. As he covered
parliamentary debates, elections, catastrophic events, and other public occasions, he developed an
ear for the many class and regional dialects that he heard and an eye for the great variety of people
in metropolitan London. When his father was again arrested for debt and held in a sponging house,
a kind of way station between freedom and the debtors prison, Dickens moved out of the family
house into rooms at Furnival’s inn. From there he roamed the streets of London, acquainting
himself with its neighborhoods, its street life, and, in the evenings, its theaters. He even entertained
ideas of becoming an actor, but illness forced him to cancel an audition at Covent Garden Theatre
in 1832.
He also met John Forster , drama critic and journalist, who would become his closest friend.
In May 1830, he met Maria Breadnell, the flirtatious daughter of a banker, whose family looked
with disdain at young Charles, the son of a bankrupt. They sent their daughter to the continent to
cool the romance, which waxed and waned over the next three years and was finally broken off in
May 1833. This was an eventful year for the young reporter, for his first story, “A Dinner at Poplar
Walk,” appeared in the December issue of the Monthly Magazine. Dickens later recalled the
moment when he saw his first literary work in print: “My eyes so dimmed with pride and joy that
they could not bear the street, and were not fit to be seen”.
In 1834, Dickens published six more sketches in the magazine and five in the Morning
Chronicle, a daily newspaper for which he had become a reporter. He also met Catherine Hogarth,
the daughter of the music critic on the paper, and began courting her. The Hogarths, unlike the
Beadnells, were impressed with the energy and talents of the young reporter, and they encouraged
the relationship. Dickens continued to publish his sketches; 20 “Sketches of London” appeared in
the Evening Chronicle in 1835, 12 in Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle. In February
1836 the sketches were collected into the first series of Sketches by Boz, and their popularity earned
him notice as a writer and a contract for a monthly serial, The Pickwick Papers, which began its run
at the end of March 1836.
On the strength of these literary successes, Dickens married Catherine on April 2 and the
couple went to Chalk, Kent, for a brief honeymoon. Soon after, although Dickens had been hired to

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play second fiddle on The Pickwick Papers by providing copy to accompany the work of a famous
illustrator, Robert Seymour , the arrangements changed when Seymour, in the second month of the
project, committed suicide. On April 20, Dickens took over the dominant role in the project. He
doubled the length of the text for each monthly number and reduced the number of illustrations.
After interviewing several candidates to replace Seymour, he selected Hablot Knight Browne, the
illustrator who would work with him through most of his career. By November Pickwick had
become a runaway best seller, and Dickens left the Morning Chronicle to devote himself full-time
to his literary work. In January 1837, the month in which his first child, Charles Culliford Dickens,
was born,Dickens initiated his first editorial project, Bentley’s Miscellany, the magazine in which
Oliver Twist began appearing at the end of the month. For much of the year, both Pickwick and
Twist were appearing monthly. The publication of both novels was suspended for a month in May,
however, afternthe sudden death of Mary Hogarth, Catherine’s younger sister who was living with
the Dickenses.
Dickens was holding her in his arms at the moment of her death and was deeply grieved; he
took a ring from her finger which he wore to the end of his life. In his obsessive memories of her,
Mary became an angelic ideal, innocent and perfect, the model for many of the fragile young
women in his novels, especially for Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop. Charles and Catherine
left their newly acquired house at 48 Douhty Street and retired to a farm in Hampstead to recover.
Later in the summer they went to Broadstairs, Kent, for the first of many holidays they would spend
at that seaside town. By the end of the year the completed Pickwick was published in book form.
Having a new project in mind, Dickens went to Yorkshire with Browne in January 1838 to observe
the infamous Yorkshire Schools there, schools that warehoused and mistreated illegitimate and
unwanted children and stepchildren who were banished to them. In March he began the novel
Nicholas Nickleby, his exposé of such schools. The new project was Master Humphrey’s Clock, a
weekly periodical begun in April 1840 in which Dickens serialized his next two novels, The Old
Curiosity Shop (1841) and Barnaby Rudge (1841). By the end of 1841, Dickens was exhausted,
tired and weakened by the two novels; a fourth child, Walter Savage Landor Dickens, born in
February; an active public life that earned him an invitation, which he refused, to stand as the
Liberal candidate for Parliament from Reading; and an operation for a fistula in October. He
decided to take a trip to the United States to recuperate.
After returning to England in summer 1845, Dickens organized the first of his Amateur
Theatricals, playing Bobadil in Ben Jonson’s Every man in his humour. A sixth child, Alfred
D’Orday Tennyson Dickens, was born, and the third Christmas book, The Cricket on the Hearth,
appeared. After Christmas Dickens began a shortlived attempt to edit a daily newspaper. The liberal

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Daily News commenced publication on January 21, but on February 9, burdened by the demands of
a daily paper and at odds with some of its sponsors, Dickens gave up the editorship. In May the
restless author again took his family abroad, this time to Switzerland, where he wrote The Battle of
Life, the Christmas book for 1846, and began Dombey and Son (1848), sometimes viewed as the
first of the great social novels that characterize the second half of Dickens’s writing career. In
Dombey he subdued the comic strain of his early work, developed a set of working notes in which
he planned out the novel in advance, and centered his work on the theme of pride.
There are some wonderful comic characters Captain Cuttle and Mr. Toots, for example but
the novel’s focus is a melodramatic critique of the institution of patriarchy in its economic, social,
and marital dimensions. In Switzerland, cut off from the sources of his inspiration in London,
Dickens found writing Dombey difficult, and after three months in Paris, the family returned to
London in February 1847. His energy restored on home ground, Dickens returned to his
characteristic multitasking. He completed Dombey in April, the same month in which another child,
Sydney Smith Haldimand Dickens, was born. During the summer, Dickens organized another series
of amateur theatrical performances. With Angela Coutts he organized Urania Cottage, a
philanthropic project to redeem fallen women from the streets, which he opened in November,
shortly after the death of his sister Fanny. He planned another Christmas book, but after beginning
The Haunted Man (1848) he put it off until the next Christmas. Fanny’s crippled son, nine-year-old
Henry Burnett, the original of Tiny Tim and Paul Dombey, died a few months later in January 1849,
the same month in which Dickens’s eighth child, Henry Fielding Dickens, was born. By February
Dickens had begun work on his “favorite child,” David Copperfield (1850), an autobiographical
novel and his earliest use of first-person narrative in a longer work. Usually viewed as an interlude
between the early and late novels, Copperfield has also been the favorite of many of Dickens’s
readers. The closely observed and deeply felt depictions of childhood, the comic hyperbole of
Wilkins Micawber, the writhing villainy of Uriah Heep, and the veiled revelations of the author’s
life, especially of his time in the Blacking Warehouse, give the novel an appeal transcending both
the comedy of the early works and the social analysis of the later ones.
While Copperfield was still running in monthly numbers, Dickens initiated another major
project, a weekly magazine, Household Words, that began publication in March 1850. He both
edited and contributed to the magazine. Meanwhile, his work with Urania Cottage and the amateur
theatricals continued. While preparing a theatrical performance at Knebworth, Bulwer-Lytton’s
country house, Dickens and Lytton came up with the idea for the guild of literature and art , a
charity to aid indigent writers and artists through benefit theatrical performances that would tour the
country.

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At the time, A Child’s History of England (1852–53) was appearing in weekly installments
in Household Words. Dickens began work on Bleak House (1853), the first of his later social
novels, at the end of 1851, a year darkened by a series of personal tragedies. In early March
Catherine had suffered a nervous breakdown, and at the end of that month Dickens’s father died.
His infant daughter, Dora Annie Dickens, born August 16, 1850, died eight months later in April
1851. After a family holiday at Broadstairs, life improved. Catherine recovered her spirits and,
under the pseudonym Lady Maria Clutterbuck, wrote a cookbook, ”What Shall We Have for
Dinner?”.
The Dickens family moved from Devonshire Terrace to the larger house in Bloomsbury,
where their 10th and last child, Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, was born on March 13, 1852.
Nevertheless, Bleak House presents a darkened vision of the times, describing England as a nation
shrouded in foggy precedents and ravaged by crippling laws.
In spite of failing health, Dickens planned a new series of readings for 1870 and began work
on a new novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870). He began his final series of readings in mid-
January and on March 15 gave his final performance, a reading of Carol and the trial from
Pickwick. The first installment of the new novel, a story about the disappearance and probable
murder of its titular hero, appeared at the beginning of April. On June 9, 1870, after spending the
afternoon at work on the novel, he suffered a stroke and died that evening. He was buried in
Westminster Abbey on June 14.
A bildungsroman narrated in the first person by its hero, Great Expectations recalls David
Copperfield, but Pip’s story is more tightly organized than David’s and Pip is more aware of his
shortcomings. Pip tells his story in three equal parts, casting his life as a journey in three stages: his
childhood and youth in Kent, when he wishes he could overcome his humble origins and rise in the
world; his young manhood in London after he receives his great expectations and his
disillusionment when he learns the source of his good fortune and realizes the emptiness of his
worldly values.
The novel’s concise narration, balanced structure, and rich symbolism have made it the most
admired and most discussed of Dickens’s works.

1.3 The role of social class


In ,,Great Expectations” social class plays a very important role. ,,Great Expectations is all
about the role social class playes in Victorian times, because in that time there was a very strict
social class system and usually people who where born in a particular class would have lived there
whole lives in that class. The only way people from that era would have moved up the social

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system, was if someone from higher up the system, took a liking to them and invested in their
future.
The novel, which is in the style of a bildungsroman, shows Pip moving through the class
system, this actually happening to a young boy from the country. Most boys from that era would
have wanted and aspired to become a gentleman, because if you were a gentleman you would have
had better living conditions, better cloths and better jobs, because if they had stayed working class
they would have had to live in little houses, would have worn rags and have jobs such as miners and
blacksmiths. Unless you were born in the upper class that would have been very difficult to achieve,
Dickens realized how hard it was to go up the social class ladder and left bad that some of the
people born in the working or lower class, could be great kind gentlemen, but people who are born
in the upper class haven’t earned there right to be a gentlemen or even a lady but have everything
anyway.
Dickens didn’t like how the social class system worked or how it stopped from being great
and from socialising, so he based a book ,,Great Expectations” on and around social class and how
the prejudice created by social class isn’t a good thing for the community or for the lower class
working people so that people could see what was wrong with social system and help try to fix it.
The first point about social class in ,,Great Expectations” is the character of Pip. The first
thing we learn about Pip and his background is that he comes from a poor family from the country
side, also that his parents are dead and he is orphan, who lives with his sister and Joe Gargery. As a
child, Pip is made to feel that his background is inadequate by numerous characters, the first is his
sister and the second is Estella. When Estella first sees Pip she calss him ,, a common labouring
boy” which would mean she looks down on him and that he wasn’t good enough.
Then, one day when he is older and is working as a blacksmith, he finds out that someone
has invested in him so he can become a gentleman. And so he moves to Londom to start training to
become a gentleman. When Pip moves to London and become a gentleman he becomes snobbish,
stuck up and looks down on the lower classes. The character of Pip teaches us that in Victorian
times, it was natural for the upper class such gentleman to look down on people, with a lower social
class then them. In Victorian times to be a gentleman meant you were powerful, well respected and
that you had lots of money.
Dickens also uses dialogue between differen social classes to show class, by showing us
how different they speak, because when a working class person talk to a person from higher class
will enunciate and speak politely and in a well mannered tone, whereas the working class oerson
would shorten words.

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Pip's attempts to be polite (including using the word "melancholy" rather than "frightening"
to describe Miss Havisham's room) attest to good, sensitive manners that should contradict Estella's
complaints that Pip is coarse. Estella, though, responds only to Pip's physical appearance and social
status, not to his personality. Estella's name means "star" and, indeed, she will be Pip's guiding light
for many years to come. In Great Expectations, a person's social class determined the amount of
education they had. It is important to perceive this relationship between education and social class
to clearly understand the importance of social class.
A person like Joe who was a common blacksmith had no education at all. Pip, in the early
days when he was low class, had a poor education at a small school. The school was not the best of
schools, but it's all that the lower class had. The teacher spent more time sleeping than teaching and
Pip had learned more from Biddy than from the actual teacher. Even though he had an education
when he was low class, his education as a gentleman with Mr. Pocket was much greater. Another
example of how social class affects education is the difference of education between the two
convicts. Magwitch, born poor and low class had no education at all while Compeyson, born rich
was high class and a gentleman with an education. Education is a factor in showing how social class
greatly determined people's lives.
Most significantly, Pip at first believes that people such as Miss Havisham and, therefore,
Estella and other suitors for Estella's hand are what he should emulate. The upper class of society
has made him feel insignificant; so he strives to become a gentleman so that he can fit in and
hopefully find purpose.
Charles Dickens's perspective of the wealty was that they were a frivolous aristocracy often
without the true values that the poor possessed.
In order to illustrate this motif of the frivolity of the aristocracy and the covetous middle class,
Dickens created the eccentric character of Miss Havisham and the "base swindler" Uncle
Pumblechook and the envious Mrs. Joe. As Pip observes their awe of the eccentric Miss Havisham,
he concludes that he will be happier and a better person if he becomes a gentleman. For, after his
visit to Satis House, Pip is ashamed of his home with the uneducated Joe, his coarse boots, his being
"common" (meaning low-class) and apparently inferior to the beautiful Estella.
This influence of the idea of the superiority of social position is what drives Pip to become
less of a person, not more. He becomes snobbish and avoids visiting Joe, he speaks in a
condescending manner to Biddy, he servilely seeks the love of Estella, and he is repulsed by the
appearance of Provis and the knowledge that the old convict has been his benefactor rather than the
upper class Miss Havisham. ocial class is crucial to the plot of this novel because it is in pursuit of
his so-called "great expectations" that Pip learns that money does not buy happiness. There are 3

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classes of people in the novel, set in Victorian England - poor, middle class and very wealthy. Only
the poor people are happy - Joe and Biddy, the Pockets, even Magwitch. The middle class are
hypocrites who are always trying to lord it over the poor and suck up to the rich (Uncle
Pumblechook), and the rich are miserable (Estella, Miss Havisham).
This novel, like many of Dickens' works, shows that inherited wealth or class status does not
help a person become a decent human being. Mrs. Pocket, for example, is a totally worthless wife
and mother because she thinks she has been born into an aristocratic family and spends more time
reading books about titles than caring for her family. Magwitch has acquired wealth, but not
inherited it, and although he is a convict, he has a good heart and is happy when he sees how he has
helped Pip.
What Pip discovers, however, is that none of the people whom he meets from England's
"aristocracy" are happy or worth of emulation. Unfortunately, before he matures in his view of
social classes, he treats Joe and Magwitch badly and even forgets the values he was taught early on
in life. By the novel's end, though, Pip returns to his roots, and Dickens uses his character to show
that good-hearted people are that way by nature, not by class.
Much like other authors, Charles Dickens employs symbols to magnify and broaden his
expression of certain concepts and ideas. In the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution, Dickens was
concerned with the false values and the class consciousness of Victorian England, and he used
symbols to express such concepts.
Satis House, representative of the romantic perception of the upper class, Satis House also is
symbolic of the Victorian Age's connection of commerce and industry with wealth as the brewery is
what financed this house. On the other hand, the dilapidated stone, darkness, dust, and decay are
symbolic of the decadence of the lives of the frivolous upper class. The jewels of Miss
Havisham represent the wealth that brings a false adulation from the rising middle class that aspires
to wealth as a measure of worth.
Money and wealth represent the falsity of the value assigned people. The "greatest of
swindlers," as Pip calls him, Uncle Pumblechook especially exemplifies this concept as he
congratulates Pip on "the joy of money" after Pip receives news of his "great expectations." Later,
he boasts that he is the one who has been influential in the making of Pip as a gentleman when
heretofore he berated or ignored Pip as a child. Bentley Drummle is a brute, but is valued as a
suitor for Estella. This character is symbolic of the arbitrary nature of class distinctions.
The mists on the marshes are symbolic of Pip's confusion and ambiguity as well as danger.
Certainly, this symbol, too, creates an atmosphere and tone for certain passages. Newgate prison is
symbolic of the social prison in which Magwitch and his lower class live. Great Expectations is

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clearly an indictment against the corrupt judicial system of England in which there is a "justice" for
the upperclass such as Compeyson and another "justice" for the poor as respresented by Magwitch.
Mr. Jaggers will not defend anyone who does not first produce money for the lawyer.
The leg-iron of the convict represents guilt. In an early chapter, Pip narrates that on the
next morning after his theft of food for the convict the damp of the marsh cold seemed riveted as
the iron was riveted to the leg of the man. In his guilt throughout the novel, Pip feels that he wears a
leg-iron himself. For, time and time again Pip's guilt regarding Joe and others is recalled by his
encountering convicts on the marshes or in Newgate prison or the reappearance of Magwitch.

CHAPTER 2

LIFE OF PIP IN ”GREAT EXPECTATIONS”

2.1 The creation of memorable characters in Great Expecations.

In ”Great Expectations” Charles Dickens shows his marvelous talent by creating archetypal
characters that readers can genuinely sympathise with and relate to . With an intricate mix of
dialogues, direct description, setting and atmosphere, Dickens creates characters that are striking
and memorable. He utilizes the characters to great effect in order to shed light on the Victorian class
system. Great Expectations is set in a period very different to ours, it is in the Victorian period.
There was a large contrast in those times, between those at the top, the rich, and those at the bottom,
the poor. In real life, it was widely known that Dickens did not like the rich and the power. This is
why he portrays the rich in a bad light and the poor in a good light. This is a habit of Dickens that
he uses in other books as well, for example ”Oliver Twist”. Again, Dickens uses the same method in
this book, by outlining the changes in Pip’s attitude when he goes from being ”common” to a
”gentleman”.This makes the characters memorable and striking to the reader as Dickens uses a
stereotypical approach, the evil rich person versus good poor hero.

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”Great Expectations” presents the reader with the development and growth of a character by
the name of Phillip Pirrip, or Pip. He is by far the most important character. It seems that there
really are two Pips in the book: he is both the protagonist, whose actions make up the main plot of
the novel, and the narrator, whose thoughts, actions and reaction help change the reader’s
perspective and judgement.
In other words they see everything through the eyes of this ”common boy”1 which makes the
reader relate to him thus making him more striking anb memorable.Dickens carefully separates the
two Pip in the story: one tells his story and the other provides the readers with insight about what is
actually happening to him and how he feels about it. This is the best seen right at the start of the
book with the quote ”Who gave up trying to get a living exceedingly early in that universal
struggle...”2 . This quote is sarcastic and uses words such as ” universal” and ”exceedingly”, words
that would not normally be used by a small child. This suggests that there may be an older, more
intelligent and more arrogant Phillip that is giving his forthright views on the point about his
siblings.
These quotes are in vast contrast with the simple trains of thought that comes out of Pip in
the first paragraph such as ”… the shape of the letters on my father’s (gravestone), gave me an odd
idea that he was a square, stout, dark man”.3 Comparing this quote with the one at the start of the
paragraph shows the difference between the two Pips. It shows how money and class may have
damaged yound Pip’s kind nature and turned him into a sarcastic, arrogant person who did not
really appreciate everything he was given when he was a ”common boy”.
In ”Great Expectations”, we can feel sympathy for Pip when we are told what his current
condition is. We find out that his parents died along with his five little brothers. Also, when
Magwith threatens him, even thought he is very scared, he still replies in a polite manner by
continuously addressing him as ”sir”4. This politeness in his dialogue makes him more memorable.
Dickens also uses the setting to great effect. At the start of the book, he places Pip in a
graveyard wich is later described as a ”bleak place” 5 that is ”riddled eith overgrown nettles” 6. This
setting draws contrast with the good nature of Pip, who is described as a ”small bundle of shivers” 7,

1
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.104
2
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 2

3
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.2
4
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.4
5
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.3
6
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.3
7
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.3
15
this causes the reader to feel sympathy for him as he is so small and innocent compared to the
environment he is living in. Pip describes the setting as ”no glimpse of dailylight could be seen...” 8.
Light is often used as symbolic of hope. Other associations are also made with death and
gloominess, with words such as ”ghastly” , ” skeletons” and ”sunken”.
Dickens use dialogue to further get across the characteristics of people and he also uses
reactions to the dialogue in order to make them memorable and striking. One of the best examples
of this is about Estella’s distase for our ”commom” Pip. She makes it pretty clear what she thinks
of him. He is called a ”common labouring boy” an dis also described as having ”coarse hands” and
”thick boots”. Miss Havisham taught Estella to be rude to Pip, and thus she would ”break his heart”
just like hers had been a long time ago. She often talked down to him like he was just a silly
common boy. One day when Pip was leaving, Estella gave him permission to kiss her. After that,
Pip thought he would feel very good but that was not the case. Pip, in his head, responded, ”I kisses
her cheek as she turned it to me. But I felt that the kiss was given to the course common boy as a
piece of money might have been, and that is worth nothing” 9. Dickens also uses direct description to
make the characters unforgettable.
An example is the description he gave of Miss Havisham, when Pip first met her. When Pip
first enters ” the pretty large room” 10 , he is justifiably confused at Ms. Havisham’s appearance. She
is described as wearing a brides dress yet she was extremely old and ”withered like the dress” 11 an
dis sitting on a table with ” her head leaning on her hand” 12. The curiosity created by Dickens
makes her more interesting and memorable because she is, as Pip calls her, ” the strangest lady I
have ever seen”13. A relationship exist between Pip’s ”hardened life” in London and his previous
confortable residence at the forge. Unfortunately, and unlike Wemmick, Pip has chosen the favour
the London facade rather than the honest rural life with its more real and less isolated delights. This
decision to choose the ”high life” on Pip’s part, forces the reader to rethink their judgement of him
even more. This change is even more enhanced when is compared to Wemmick’s way of living.
In the book, words like ”ghastly” , ”sunken”, ”dead” are used for atmospheric reasons thus
relating to the character and making them more memorable.
Alliteration is also used such as ”low leaden line” and ” small bundle of shivers” to really ram home
the setting again for added impact and more contrast or parallels with characters to make them more

8
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.99
9
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.162
10
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.99
11
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.100
12
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.101
13
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.99
16
memorable. Pip story is not about living happily ever after with Estella. Dickens never tell sus what
happens, if anything, between them in the end. Estella is present in Pip’s thoughts more than
therefore, even at the end.
In ” Great Expectations” , Dickens shape characters that are striking and memorable. He
utilises the characters to a great effect in order to shed light on the Victorian class system, and his
views on it.

2.2 Pip’s ideal to become a gentleman.

In Great Expectations, Pip’s condition is presented under the imposition of social norms
from his childhood onwards. The family plays an important role in this social formation as Mrs Joe
and family friends attempt to train Pip for appropriate social manners. In Great Expectations, Pip in
a similar manner struggles to become a gentleman, which requires his absolute submission to
society and guarantees that his individuality will be destroyed by the same society.
The conflict between the individual and society can be observed as early as Pip’s childhood
as a result of social hegemony. Pip’s introduction to Victorian social aspirations, upward social
movement, conformity to bourgeois norms and education to be a conformist begins at home through
his sister Mrs Joe Gargery who teaches him socially appropriate and acceptable behaviours. Mrs Joe
thus represents the voice of the established social order in Great Expectations as she directs Pip’s
behaviours and expects him to conform to Victorian social values. In this respect, the relationship
between Pip and his sister Mrs Joe needs further investigation for the analysis of bourgeois social
oppression of the individual in the early nineteenth-century English society. Clearly, Mrs Joe and
her aspirations for respectability constitute a guideline for Pip as regards his ambition for a higher
social status. Mrs Joe’s sense of propriety in line with middle-class values makes Pip yearn for
respectability.
In line with the social practices in the countryside, Pip is expected to be involved in daily
life more seriously for the sake of conformity as he grows up. Since Joe is the blacksmith of the
village, Pip is apprenticed by Joe to learn this trade and contribute to his family with his labour. In
these years of his life, Pip has not yet been introduced to the urban living conditions in London. As
a boy living in the southern countryside, he simply begins to work as Joe’s apprentice to become a
craftsman. At the time, being an apprentice means not only work ethic, but also a form of social
discipline. Pip says that “when I was old enough, I was to be apprenticed to Joe, and until I could
assume that dignity I was not to be what Mrs Joe called ‘Pompeyed’, or (as I render it) pampered” 14.

14
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 74
17
Mrs Joe expects Pip to behave in a grave and solid manner. His acting in a proper way includes his
responsibility towards the community in the town.
Pip here exemplifies the relationship between the individual and the bourgeois society.
Accordingly, in the social setting of the countryside, Mrs Joe does not allow Pip to be spoiled for
the sake of social acceptability in the community. She keeps their status above everything and sends
Pip away to do all sorts of things in the town in order not to be reproached. Moreover, she keeps an
appearance of justice towards Pip in the eyes of society storing Pip’s money in a box available for
everyone. However, she can easily sacrifice Pip’s endeavours as he says “I know I had no hope of
any personal participation in the treasure”15. So, Pip learns how society, including his own sister,
makes use of his merits in order to benefit financially. Mrs Joe also presents Pip as an example to
other kids in the village because of his hard work and diligence to keep their “superior position”16

While Pip is controlled by social values, his productivity is also encouraged. In the light of
self help and self discipline in the Victorian era, it is obvious that Pip’s conflictual relationship with
society develops out of two major incidents that lead to Pip’s transformation into a boy with
aspirations and his development of a new identity. Firstly, Pip meets with Miss Havisham and
Estella, who seem to have higher social positions than Pip, a coarse worker. Secondly, Jaggers
offers Pip great expectations coming from a mysterious benefactor, later revealed as Abel Magwitch
quite paradoxically, to make Pip equal to socially better people through education.
The ideal of becoming a gentleman is crucial for Pip while it at the same time means that he
will be strictly controlled by the normative bourgeois values and manners which he will have to
learn in his training in London. By the early decades of the nineteenth century, however, the social
structure in England dramatically changed with the social mobility of the middle class as a result of
free trade and industrialisation. Hence, the term gentleman acquired various connotations apart from
its origins in the previous centuries. The definition of the gentleman, thus, includes the middle class
due to the changing economic, social and political circumstances. By the early nineteenth century,
the middle class understanding of gentlemanly qualities was dominant in the English society due to
economic and political power of this class.
The notions of gentility and being a gentleman result in the conflict between Pip as an
individual and the bourgeois society in Great Expectations. Although Pip has aspired to have better
circumstances than his rural environment could provide in his childhood and become a part of the
bourgeois community through his gentlemanly qualities, he learns that his great expectations

15
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 75
16
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 74
18
connect him to a convict. Furthermore, his friend Herbert’s remark on the qualities of a true
gentleman proves that one must be “a true gentleman at heart and a true gentleman in manner”.17
In other words, a socially acceptable appearance is not sufficient to be a gentleman. The
characters that do not have gentlemanly qualities in Great Expectations, such as Bentley Drummle,
Compeyson and Orlick, help Dickens provide a guideline for the representation of a gentleman.
Although the definition of the gentleman seems to be rather ambiguous, Pip’s desire for upward
social movement exemplifies the domination of the middle class and the need for the individual to
comply with social expectations symbolised by gentlemanly qualities. Pip’s encounter with the
middle-class values through his aspirations and his desire to become a gentleman display the
conflict between the individual and society. It could be put forward that Pip aims to conform to the
social values that are represented by appearances in the bourgeois industrial society. Except for
Herbert’s comment on being a gentleman, Pip always tries to comply with the appearances in
society. Therefore, he never feels himself like a true gentleman at heart in his search for a status that
he could not exactly define. He just conforms to the social norms in a state of false consciousness
caused by his ambition to be an appropriate suitor for Estella.
In relation to the discussion of gentlemanly qualities, the first main incident that leads to
Pip’s transformation into a boy with aspirations in Great Expectations is Pip’s visit to Miss
Havisham’s house, which teaches Pip the hierarchical structure of the bourgeois industrial society
and the necessity for social mobility towards a respectable social status. Especially, Estella’s elegant
manners and higher social status affect Pip from their first meeting onwards. Under the influence of
his first love and Estella’s higher social status, Pip begins to question his own lower-class condition.
Pip believes that respectability is the only means to be equal to Estella and to be loved by her.
So, he feels ready to embrace bourgeois manners and norms at the end of his visit. However,
Pip finds Estella’s arrogant attitude while she looks down upon him so strange that he wonders why
she acts like that: ”Though she called me ‘boy’ so often, and with a carelessness that was far from
complimentary, she was of about my own age. She seemed much older than I, of course, being a
girl, and beautiful and self-possessed; and she was as scornful of me as if she had been one-and-
twenty, and a queen”18
Hence, Pip learns the hierarchical differences between people in the bourgeois society.His
current appearance signifies his inferiority in comparison with Estella, who looks down upon Pip.
Moreover, she continues to humiliate Pip due to his commonness and Pip hates his social status
more. As Estella brings food and drink to Pip in the yard, she treats him like a filthy animal to be

17
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 319
18
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 98
19
detested: ”She came back, with some bread and meat and a little mug of beer. She put the mug
down on the stones of the yard, and gave me the bread and meat without looking at me, as
insolently as if I were a dog in disgrace. I was so humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended, angry, sorry –
I cannot hit upon the right name for the smart – God knows what its name was – that tears started to
my eyes”19.
On the point of crying, Pip feels desperate in his desolation. He knows that nobody around
understands his situation and his shame for being inferior to Estella. At that moment, he, in fact,
realises his commonness resulting from rural and lower-class origins, which is the reason for being
exposed to this humiliation from his own perspective. He confesses his feeling later as follows: “I
felt very miserable. […] that she had said I was common, and that I knew I was common, and that I
wished I was not common” 20. In line with his wish of not being common, a process of self
degradation continues in Pip. He immediately compares his lifestyle and social environment to
Estella’s. This conflict in Pip’s identity actually results in his aspirations towards a higher social
status and respectability. In this stage, bourgeois construction of Pip’s identity to adapt himself to
bourgeois norms is observed. Pip, who was previously a simple country boy, starts to yearn for
having the appearance and manners of a respectable gentleman that will impress Estella.
The change in Pip’s perspective leads to the conflict between the individual and the
bourgeois society since this self-questioning is a threat against his sense of individuality along with
Pip’s intention to conform to the social norms.
Pip’s changing attitude is a consequence of this social environment that imposes conformity
as a necessity to be recognised by the dominant bourgeois society. Clearly, the early nineteenth-
century society is in conflict with the individuality of the protagonist in Great Expectations.

2.3 Emancipation of Pip through Magwitch.

Accordingly, the relationship between Pip and Magwitch in Great Expectations presents
another aspect of the social hegemony in the Victorian era and Pip’s identity is constructed
according to social norms. It is revealed that Magwitch was convicted at the court, in particular, for
his lack of bourgeois manners to be considered as respectable when he was put on trial with
Compeyson who set him up to appear as an outcast according to bourgeois norms.
Magwitch is another individual pressurised into socially appropriate behaviours by the
Victorian society. His lower-class origins and lack of economic circumstances bring him into a

19
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 108
20
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 122
20
closer relationship with Compeyson, the villain in the novel, who causes Magwitch to participate in
illegal actions.
Compeyson is presented as another example to how a gentleman should not behave, in
addition to Drummle, since he initially leaves Miss Havisham on their wedding day, and, secondly,
he takes advantage of Magwitch leaving him alone in the courtroom to be despised because of his
lower-class status. Compeyson might also be compared to Pip in terms of Pip’s commitment to
become a gentleman in the Victorian society. Actually, Compeyson and Magwitch’s trial illustrates
bourgeois obsession with social appearances as Magwitch is punished for his unrespectable
appearance. The final attack against Magwitch at the courtroom comes through the knowledge of
social habits, manners and values that Compeyson makes use of affecting the judge for his appeals,
which leave Magwitch as a desolate convict in the eyes of society.
Their dispositions are evaluated within the context of respectability in the Victorian society,
disregarding Magwitch’s personal pleadings, and affirming Compeyson as a better and respectable
man: ”And when it come to character, warn't it Compeyson as had been to the school, and warn't it
his schoolfellows as was in this position and in that, and warn't it him as had been know'd by
witnesses in such clubs and societies, and nowt to his disadvantage? And warn't it me as had been
tried afore, and as had been know'd up hill and down dale in Bridewells and Lock-Ups! […] And
when the verdict come, warn't it Compeyson as was recommended to mercy on account of good
character and bad company, and giving up all the information he could agen me, and warn't it me as
got never a word but Guilty”21. Thus, Magwitch’s partnership with Compeyson resulted in a
destructive situation with his deportation to Australia. However, he did not forget Compeyson and
the treatment he received at the courtroom.
The identification of gentlemanly behaviour with appearance in the Victorian society might
be easily manipulated by a villain like Compeyson as in the example of Magwitch. Although the
real character of Compeyson is hidden in the courtroom, Magwitch follows the same path of
making up appearances for Pip. Furthermore, Magwitch offers Herbert economic support to make
him a gentleman just as he did for Pip. Clearly, Magwitch still believes that the appearance of a
gentleman will work in terms of conformity to the established social order.
After he realises the significance of money in order to ascertain one’s social status in the
bourgeois society, Magwitch uses the same approach fighting off the oppression on the individual.
It seems that Magwitch has decided to imitate social manners of the bourgeoisie in order to be
respected in the Victorian society, though he aims to achieve this purpose by means of Pip as he
provides Pip with the economic means for becoming a gentleman. Through this process of identity

21
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 320
21
construction, Magwitch aims to respond to the bourgeois society by creating a gentleman who will
be a respectable member of society with the help of Magwitch’s economic support. Nevertheless, he
clearly understands that he was in a disadvantageous position from the very beginning.
Magwitch explains his intention as follows: ”Yes, Pip, dear boy, I've made a gentleman on
you! It's me wot has done it! I swore that time, sure as ever I earned a guinea, that guinea should go
to you. I swore arterwards, sure as ever I speculated and got rich, you should get rich. I lived rough,
that you should live smooth; I worked hard, that you should be above work. What odds, dear boy?
Do I tell it, fur you to feel a obligation? Not a bit. I tell it, fur you to know as that there hunted
dunghill dog wot you kep life in, got his head so high that he could make a gentleman,-and, Pip,
you're him!”.22
For this reason, Magwitch never forgets Pip, the little child that helped him in a most
compassionate and merciful manner. Magwitch has planned to make a gentleman out of Pip, who
would be respectable in society that condemned him, and this young man would do everything that
he could not do as a criminal. He endures all the difficulties, filthy conditions of being a herdsman
in exile and humiliation by other people he encounters. The only reason for Magwitch’s endurance
is to know that he helps a young country boy in England who will become a gentleman with his
help.
This young boy, Pip, will be respectable in the bourgeois Victorian society that suppressed
Magwitch due to his lower-class origins. In this regard, the question of Pip’s becoming a gentleman
in Great Expectations is highly related to the repression of the individual in the bourgeois society.
Accordingly, Pip is expected to renounce his rural lifestyle and acquaintances in the country
altogether. Before Pip leaves his village for London, he has no clear idea as regards what he is going
to experience in London, where he experiences bourgeois social oppression to shape his identity.
However, it is clear that Great Expectations as a novel that represents the conflict between the
individual and the early nineteenth-century English society introduces Pip as an individual radically
shaped by society. Indeed, Dickens deals with social problems in the Victorian era in his works
including Great Expectations and frequently represents the conflict between the individuals that
suffer because of the expectations of society. Along with industrialisation, a process of
embourgeoisement continues in the early nineteenth century as represented in Great Expectations.
As Dickens looks back to the beginning of the nineteenth century from the 1860s, he
actually depicts the transformation of the Victorian society towards a bourgeois industrial society. In
other words, Pip’s story is at the same time the story of the beginning of a new social order,
characterised by industry and the bourgeoisie in an urban setting.

22
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 293
22
In order to achieve his ideals, Pip submits to middle-class hegemony and conforms to bourgeois
values after his secret benefactor provides him with economic means for his training to become a
gentleman.
The parallel Pip-Magwitch can only be conceived in the light of the simple Christian
division between Good and Evil, as it is clear that this division overpowers class distinctions in
Great Expectations. Pip reconciles his intelligence and his warm fellowship feelings as a positive
response to the social evil he, like other characters, has to cope with. Pip’s route to the top of
society is in fact a series of innumerable instances of the false pretence governing it and, of course,
one must see Miss Havisham, Magwitch’s implicit counterpart, through the role of “benefactor”
which has been initially assigned by Pip’s imagination, as an epitome of such falsehood, while
Magwitch himself was meant to represent the opposite pole. Pip’s aspiration towards gentility is on
a par with the young man’s acceptance of oddities, as moral distortion goes hand in hand with his
way out of his own social class. The boy feels as if he were a prisoner in his own existence (“see
how I am going on. Dissatisfied, and uncomfortable, and – what would it signify to me, being
coarse and common, if nobody had told me so!”23
The evolution of the two characters, although parallel, has an opposed sense and direction:
while Magwitch, released from the pressure of material misery, especially from his captivity, is
striving to find resources to become a good man, Pip, once rich, descends into wickedness. Of
course Pip’s is the more relevant evolution: from a symbolic standpoint, he undergoes a moral
rebirth. Magwitch’s mission is cut short in contentment and admiration in front of the ”gentleman”
of his ”creation”. As applied to the description of Pip’s ascent from egotism to self-denial and
human affection, it was meant as a final test to pass on his way to genuine gentility. The best
evidence of Pip’s newly acquired quality is given by Magwitch himself, as he refers to young Pip’s
behaviour: “You acted noble, my boy. Noble, Pip! And I have never forgot it!”.24
Pip’s moral ”upsurge”, achieved through his becoming entangled with Magwitch, interferes
with the reverse mood, which, explicitly or not, is morally condemned by society. When lying to
help Magwitch, Pip has to distinguish between his social and moral guilt. The guilt-ridden
atmosphere of Pip is only too familiar with culminates, through the figure of Magwitch, in an
immortalisation of the sufferings and humility of the poor and humble, of the simple creatures
living in the England of that time. Magwitch comes to represent the violence of that world and, in
this light, Pip serves as a ”perceiving eye” of that oppressing reality that the Convict suddenly
embodies in front of his childish look. Pip acts in his relationship with Magwitch as a middle term

23
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 228
24
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 563
23
”hinge” element: on the one hand, he bears witness to the brutal division of the contemporary
reality into two sharply differing sections: those who are considered to be always right and those
who can hardly aspire to be and, on the other hand, he himself is, through his foibles, one of the
latter set.
The convict’s very forename, Abel ,implies, together with the sense of victimisation, a shade
of irony. He is the good one, betrayed by the bad brother. His generosity is extreme, when lavished
on his former benefactor and, oddly enough, it has a twofold, rather paradoxical character: it
conforms to generally accepted social standards as it is rooted in the burdening feeling of his own
failed life, yet it is directed against society, as it is meant as a sort of revenge: “I’ve made a
gentleman of you! It’s me wot has done it! (...) I lived rough, that you should live smooth; I worked
hard, that you should be above work. (...) Do I tell it, fur you to feel a obligation? Not a bit. I tell it
fur you to know as that there hunted dunghill dog wot you keep life in, got his head so high that he
could make a gentleman – and Pip, you’re him!”.25
Magwitch’s link to Pip is figuratively, but also possibly literally, if we consider all the
strength of his affection and capacity for self-sacrifice a parental relationship. Abel Magwitch is the
epitome of the Victim like Pip, in fact, a victim of his own greenness confronted by society. He is a
victim of poverty, abuse and repression, doomed to a sad plight , one may say a sacrificial act and
finally to death.
As related to Pip’s destiny, Magwitch plays the part of a sort of dark, mysterious deity,
aiming at finding the light. It is in order to attain redemption that Magwitch turns into a Creator, the
maker of a destiny. First of all, in material terms: he has his own contribution to everything Pip, the
gentleman means “He looked about him with the strangest air, an air of wondering pleasure, as if he
had some part in the things he admired” 26. The convict’s name itself , Magwitch, can be considered
as illustrative of the part the convict has in the evolution of the central character: it may be read as
MAG + WITCH , the first, a diminutive derivative from Margaret also, Meg or Mab, this latter
reminding us of recalling the popular figure of the Fairy Queen in Shakespeare’s Midsummer
Night’s Dream or it can be an allusion to Mary Magdalen, the prototype of repentance through
morality and doing of good. The second part ”witch” , is easy to fit into the general fairy tale
atmosphere characterising young Pip’s intimate feelings, rather naive opinions and occasional fits of
mythomania account of his first visit to Miss Havisham’s castle: “She was sitting in a black velvet
coach (...) and Miss Estella handed her in cake and wine on a gold plate (...) We played with
flags”27. Thus the character’s name can reveal his double nature: the good fairy is not very attractive
25
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 569
26
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 561
27
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 117
24
a ”witch” who has learnt how to do good actions, thus being able to play the part of the ”Fairy
Queen”.
The idea of the test imposed on the hero so that he might show his merit is supported, in
Pip’s case, by his progress to genuine humanisation through compassion and what is more, labour .
Moral purification for Pip is the acquisition of a more serious, ”graver man” character , while the
source of his moral regeneration, the ”ugly fairy” , Magwitch dies a sacrificial death, as a perfect
winner.
An anti-hero initially , Magwitch finishes as the real hero of Pip’s existence mainly through
his great, almost inhuman resolution “I recalled how he had made me swear fidelity in the
churchyard long ago, and how he had described himself 364 last night as always swearing to his
28
resolutions in his solitude.” and strong character “This is an ignorant determined man (...), a man
of a desperate and fierce character”29.
The outcast, Magwitch is actually the creator of gentility. The message of the two characters’
interrelation may be seen as a moral parable, as Pip’s striving towards ”gentility” without knowing
its real value proves fruitless, while the cruelty of the scene in which Magwitch reveals himself as
the source of Pip’s ”expectations” serves as a mirror held up to vanity by one who considers himself
well above the falseness of the social system built on material acquisition.
By fighting against the system with its own weapons, Magwitch acquires a sort of
tyrannical, obsessive behaviour, almost to the point of making a puppet out of Pip “He is intent
upon various new expenses , horses, and carriages, and lavish appearance of all kinds. He must be
stopped somehow!”30. Even the pseudonym of Provis, which the convict adopts can be interpreted
in this light: a “provider”or a “provident” man, hence, one who wants to play God by giving and
providing.
Magwitch’s last words “Dear boy, I’m quite content to take my chance. I’ve seen my boy,
and he can be a gentleman without me” 31 demonstrate his awareness of having created a man, not
only a gentleman, while he himself has lost his former revengeful frenzy to become a man.

28
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 592
29
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 607
30
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 606
31
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 797
25
CHAPTER 3
…………………………………………

3.1Pip, between guilt and shame.

Guilt does have a role to play throughout many different parts of the book. After Pip first
helps the convict Magwich by bringing him food and supplies, the next weeks are spent wracked
with guilt; he is sure that someone will find out, and that Joe especially will find fault in him for
helping a prisoner. Guilt makes Pip jump at small noises, quail in fear when news comes, and it
even interrupts his sleep. Eventually, his guilt over helping the escaped convict does fade to the
background, but for quite some time, Pip was ridden with a guilty conscience over the entire thing.
Guilt comes into play again after he has received his fortune and lived in London for a
while. He realizes that he has been treating Joe and Biddy horribly. He never talks to them, hardly
ever writes, and when Joe visits, Pip is awfully embarrassed by Joe's simple ways and embarrassing
familiarity. Pip doesn't treat them very well, and he knows this--it is a constant force, eating away
at the back of his mind. His guilt keeps him from fully enjoying the benefits of his new life,
because he feels like he is a bad person, even if he is now a "gentleman." When Pip does finally
return home, and gets sick, he is so driven by guilt that in his feverish ramblings he focuses quite a
bit on it. After that, he repents his bad behavior and learns to treasure his family for the prize that
they are.
One last rather unexpected area that guilt comes in is in relationship to Magwich's capture
and death. When Magwich arrives and reveals himself as Pip's benefactor, Pip is, at first, horrified,
embarrassed and shocked. Eventually though, he comes around, feels bad for Magwich, and as the
old man is captured, Pip feels guilty for having treated him so horribly and having thought of him in
such negative terms. He stays by Magwich's side until his death; guilt and fondness drive him to be
a good friend to him until the end.
Guilt is a significant theme in Great Expectations and plays a major part in Pip's life. In his
formative years, he's constantly made to feel guilty by his sister about still being alive while his
parents and five brothers are lying buried in the churchyard. Mrs. Joe, as is her wont, also
constantly reminds Pip how lucky he is that she's been so generous in raising him. This in turn
merely compounds his guilt at putting Mrs. Joe to so much trouble.

26
Such a guilt-ridden upbringing inevitably bears heavily upon Pip's interactions with the
outside world. When he encounters Magwitch on the Romney Marshes, although on the face of it
absolutely terrified, Pip nonetheless instinctively feels a certain kinship with the escaped convict.
He's been made to feel so guilty for just about everything that's happened in his short life that he
might as well be one of those wretched criminals festering away on that prison ship hell-hole. So
one could reasonably argue that Pip's almost-pathological guilt is as much a motivation for helping
Magwitch as fear. When Pip steals the food from the larder and a file from the forge there's no
prizes for guessing what emotion he feels later on.
Try as he might, Pip just cannot escape the burden of guilt. Even a change of scenery doesn't
do him much good in that regard. As a young gentleman and man about town Pip is naturally keen
to forget his humble background. Unfortunately, this leads to his treating Joe with ill-disguised
snobbery and disdain. Joe has been the best friend that Pip could ever have had, and yet he treats
him as an embarrassing reminder of his true social origins. After Joe leaves, Pip is wracked with
guilt once more. Yet guilt ultimately serves a didactic function for Pip. That is to say it teaches him
a number of very important life lessons. His good fortune in life has come from a hardened
criminal, a man guilty of many crimes over many years. Pip's status as a gentleman of quality is a
direct consequence of someone else's guilt. Not just his status, but also a certain wisdom offer a
profound understanding of the fundamental connection we share with one another.
This universal guilt binds us all together in a gigantic human drama in which we all play a
part. The basic unity it embodies dissolves the artificial differences between the blacksmith and the
gentleman, the convict and the lawyer, old money and new. Guilt is a unifying theme in the
development of humanity, especially since the dawn of Christianity, and is represented in miniature
by Pip's convoluted journey to wisdom and understanding.
Throughout the novel, symbols of justice, such as prisons and police, serve as reminders of
the questions of conscience that plague Pip: just as social class provides an external standard of
value irrespective of a person’s inner worth, the law provides an external standard of moral behavior
irrespective of a person’s inner feelings. Pip’s wholehearted commitment to helping Magwitch
escape the law in the last section of the novel contrasts powerfully with his childhood fear of police
and shows that, though he continues to be very hard on his own shortcomings, Pip has moved closer
to a reliance on his own inner conscience, which is the only way, as Joe and Biddy show, that a
character can truly be “innocent.”
Pip is feeling guilty of not visiting Joe more often, guilty of not telling the others about the
things he pilfered to feed the escaped convict, but especially to Joe, guilty of lying everybody after
he return from Miss Havisham, regarding the way her room looks like. Even in this last example,

27
Pip is feeling guiltier for not saying the truth to Joe, who he will later reveal the truth, than to the
others: Mrs. Joe Gargery and Mr. Pumblechook.
Secondly, Dickens reveals shame in Great Expectations especially in the relation between
Pip and Estella, as a profound feeling of humiliation produced by the heartless Estella. Since their
very first encounter, she laughed of his clothes and his boots, of his hands and of his social class:
“`With this boy? Why, he is a common laboring-boy!`” 32 and “`He calls the knaves, Jacks, his boy!`
said Estella with disdain, before our first game was out. `And what coarse hands he has! And what
thick boots!`”33.
Estella, being the adoptive daughter of Miss Havisham, was taught since she was a little girl
that she should make men suffer by manipulating their feelings. That is exactly what she did to poor
little Pip, who believed the mean girl and tried to change himself in order to please her, because she
made him feel so ashamed: “I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began
to consider them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became
infectious, and I caught it.”
Philip Pirrip, better known as Pip, feels guilty toward his uncle and best friend, Joe Gargery
even from the beginning. He steals some food and drink from the pantry “as soon as the great black
velvet pall outside”34, for the escaped convict from the churchyard. He feels guilty toward
everybody of not telling what he did wrong, he is full of remorse only for Joe: “as to him, my inner
self was not so easily composed” 35. Later, Pip feels ashamed of Joe and how little he knows
compared with his beloved Estella. He reproaches Joe with teaching him “to call Knaves at cards,
Jacks; and I wish my boots weren’t so thick nor my hands so coarse.” 36 . He is not pleased with his
social status; he is not satisfied at how little he studies at the evening school held by Mr. Wopsle’s
great-aunt, so he decides to ask Biddy to learn him more, after he meets Estella.
After Pip acknowledges that he has a benefactor, Pip feels that Joe is his best friend and a
good man, but he wishes that he could learn more so that he could fit better in his new world, in
London. “I wanted to make Joe less ignorant and common, that he might be worthier of my society
and less open to Estella’s reproach.”37. He says that he was disturbed when Joe came to visit him in
London, that “if I could have kept him away by paying money, I certainly would have paid money.”
He feels ashamed of Joe’s manners at table and his manner of speech, when the last one was calling

32
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 104
33
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 105
34
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 24
35
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 70
36
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 122
37
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 193
28
Pip not “old Pip, old chap” as always, but Sir. Pip feels guilty from time to time for not visiting Joe
after he left the small village behind, as promised, but he cannot convince himself to do so, although
he thinks that Joe would fall into his old tone in his forge.
While Pip was ill, Joe cared for him, falling back in his old tone, calling him “old chap”
once again. Pip told him once awake and conscious: “O, Joe, you break my heart! Look angry at
me, Joe. Strike me, Joe. Tell me of my ingratitude. Don’t be so good to me!” 38. He felt guilty of not
being able to be a good friend to his uncle, as Joe was to him, who asked nothing in return and left
when he got better.
Estella is the one big love of Pip, whom he appreciates the most, even if she is so cold,
mean, and expecting him to cry because of her. She even succeeded to make him feel ashamed of
his own house that was not as big and as decorated as hers, although Satis House was nearly a ruin
nowadays. “It is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home. There may be black ingratitude in
the thing, and the punishment may be retributive and well deserved; but, that is a miserable thing, I
can testify”39. When he was supposed to expect Estella at the coach-office, he felt ashamed of the
fact that he knows the ugly part of London, the prison and even a convict with whom he
encountered. He tried to escape of the filthy smell from his lungs and his clothes, thinking “with
absolute abhorrence of the contrast between the jail and her” 40 but no luck.
Furthermore, even if Pip declared his love to Estella, she always warned him that her heart is
cold, not used to love or feel any emotion; she married Bentley Drummle, the most repugnant man,
in Pip’s opinion. He loved her and thought about her his entire life, even when she was married,
although he tried to deny it in front of Biddy. “Nevertheless, I knew while I said those words, that I
secretly intended to revisit the site of the old house that evening, alone, for her sake. Yes even so.
For Estella’s sake.”41
Pip had a life full of all sort of feelings: from fear, to love. However, guilt and shame are
dominating his life; he is not satisfied with his living, with his friends or with his lack of money. He
dreams of becoming a gentleman and when he learns of his benefactor, he experiments happiness
and eagerness, but even this is ruined when Abel Magwich reveals himself. Pip is disgusted of him,
at first, then he fears of losing him, and in the end, he says that Abel is a better friend to him than he
was to Joe and this thought fills his heart with shame and guilt.

38
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 827
39
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 188
40
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 468
41
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, page 861
29
3.2 Pip’s crisis of identity

Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations contains a wealth of moral, social, and philosophical
insights. Rife with rich characterizations, fairy-tale elements, grotesque and bizarre plot twists,
Victorian social issues, and a beautifully thoughtful and imaginative commentary on the universal
human themes of loss, guilt, abuse, identity, money, social status, and love, this novel remains an
outstanding example of truly great art, both popular and classic. Great Expectations stands out
among Dickens’ writings as a story that does not end as happily as many of the author’s other
works, and in fact possesses two separate endings.1 In this book, Dickens uses the young
protagonist Pip to explore the idea of the identity of the Victorian gentleman in relationship to his
society, employing fairy tale constructs to ridicule the romantic illusions of the time period. A
bildungsroman of epic proportions, the formation, distortion, and redemption of Pip’s identity
illustrates Dickens’ narrative of secular transformation.
Although Pip is a radically different hero from Scrooge, Oliver Twist, Amy Dorritt, or other
more typical Dickensian protagonists, he embodies characteristics of Dickens’ thought in extremely
vivid and complex form. Pip’s story of identity formation in a nineteenth century English context
demonstrates how Dickens’ life and writings, influenced by spurious and inconsistent theological
beliefs, express the idea that sin is largely social rather than personal, and that therefore redemption
is a secular rather than a religious concept, illustrated in two different ways in the multiple endings
to Great Expectations. Although unique among Dickens’ characters, Pip also remains an archetypal
Dickensian protagonist in his attempts to form his identity.
Any status he attains in the world will be the result of his own efforts. He will be totally
responsible, himself, for any identity he achieves”. Great Expectations, like many other Dickens
works, investigates themes of identity, social class, and relationships. Dickens protagonists such as
Pip, David Copperfield, Esther Summerson, and Martin Chuzzlewit engage in the search for a
unified, coherent identity. They must learn who they are in themselves and in relation to the rest of
the world. Pip’s quest to find his true identity is especially tragic and multifaceted, remaining one of
the finest examples of Dickens’ tendency toward realism in his vision of the world. This vision is
both Victorian and timeless, for while at first Pip believes his identity is that of a gentleman, the
most coveted position in Victorian society, he eventually realizes that a true gentleman is one
characterized by gentlemanly qualities, not one merely possessing gentlemanly trappings.
The story of Pip’s transformation into a gentleman, like David Copperfield and large
portions of Bleak House, is told by a first-person narrator. Characters in need of redemption
generally become rather disagreeable, and Pip’s story fits this pattern.

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Although likeable enough at the beginning as a kind and abused orphan, Pip eventually
becomes a guilt-ridden snob who outwardly comes to conform to society’s idea of a gentleman
while despising his true friends and engaging in a self-destructive relationship with the dangerous
Estella. Established firmly within the bildungsroman or coming-of- age genre, Pip’s story is the tale
of a young boy whose identity is distorted as it is forming, but is eventually reconstructed in the
end. Because Pip becomes twisted, however, he becomes less and less likeable, with some
exceptions, as the novel progresses. Yet it in order for readers to be instructed and find catharsis in
Pip’s transformation, they must be able to identify with the deluded young man.
The effect of using the first-person is completely to reverse the normal problem about
keeping a reader’s sympathy. People do not, in the ordinary way, have much difficulty in liking
someone who tells the audience how bad he has been. Pip’s identity re-formation is far more
powerful because of his sadder, but wiser narration throughout the course of his ethereal, haunting
story.
Consequently, Dickens writes Pip’s identity distortion as a study of twisted emotional socio-
economic values, not spiritual deficiency. As a fallen character, Pip possesses an identity that for
much of the novel is characterized by remorse, guilt, and shame. One of the great questions of the
book is the analysis of guilt: who is at fault? Pip or society? More explicit examination of what
wrongs have actually been committed by Pip or society provides a background for the redemption
of Pip’s identity: if Pip is morally culpable, then he is in need of personal redemption, and he is
defined by his fall and the necessity of restoration. If the primary fault lies with society, however,
then Pip must simply learn to overcome society’s negative projections of guilt onto himself.
Dickens seems to answer that the wrongdoing lies both within society and also within Pip (though
mostly within society), although unlike for Pip, no real provision is made for the restoration of
society. Society is certainly guilty of abusing and distorting Pip’s identity. This abuse, in turn,
produces tremendous shame in Pip, which overshadows his guilt for actual wrongdoing. Growing
up, Pip is abused by most of the adults in his life, and by his older sister in particular.
Pip’s story is told in both first and third person, and at the outset he explains, “Within
myself, I had sustained, from my babyhood, a perpetual conflict with injustice. I had known, from
the time when I could speak, that my sister, in her capricious and violent coercion, was unjust to
me. I had cherished a profound conviction that her bringing me up by hand gave her no right to
bring me up by jerks”42.

42
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p. 109
31
Pip’s great expectations of education, money, and social status stem in part from the abuse
he received at the hands of the adults in his life.
Everyone else aggressively abuses Pip, thereby eroding his self-concept, but through his
well-intentioned but disastrous passivity, Joe inadvertently sends Pip the message that Pip is not
worth defending. Additionally, despised by Estella and made to feel dreadfully ashamed of who he
is and where he comes from, Pip reacts by deciding to become someone he will not be ashamed of
being, a man of great expectations. Mortified and devalued by the abuse of adults and the scorn of
the wealthy Estella, Pip searches for redemption throughout the novel, needing to have his shame
relieved so that he can form a coherent identity by dealing with his guilt. Encouraged passively or
actively by most of the other characters in the novel to believe that Miss Havisham is his
benefactress, that he can become a gentleman merely by acting and looking the part, and that Estella
is meant to be his bride, Pip lives for a long while in world of illusory fairytale expectations where
all his dreams come true and he is blissfully free of moral responsibility to God or his fellow man.
Great Expectations is a story about identity, specifically the identity of the protagonist Pip
and the origin, distortion, and transformation of his identity and the resulting clarification of the
relationship between himself and the world around him. Great Expectations begins with Pip’s
announcement in the second sentence of the novel, “I called myself Pip, and came to be called
Pip,”43 and several lines later that “my first most vivid and broad impression of the identity of
things”44 was formed during the story’s opening incident with Magwitch in the graveyard on
Christmas Eve. Pip’s name, emphasizing the concept of growth, is extraordinarily fitting. Unique
names often characterize their possessors in literature: Peter Pan, for example, another orphan boy,
has a name appropriately reminiscent of the Greek god Pan, a god of nature and nymphs. As an
abused orphan, Pip is not only completely lacking in a positive bestowed identity, but he is also so
undefined that he actually names himself. Consequently, Pip’s journey to finding his true character
involves great struggle and conflict and contains many missteps and failures. Throughout the course
of Dickens’ novel of transformation, Pip must learn to claim his identity through recognizing the
difference between morally-induced guilt and socially-induced shame, and coming to accept the
loss of his illusions and the love or forgiveness of those whom he has wronged and been wronged
by, regardless of whether his redemption ends up being more social or moral in nature.
Like most children, young Pip was utterly unable to retain or even begin to form a healthy
identity in the face of his orphaned state and the violent physical and emotional abuse perpetrated
by most of the caregivers in his life, so his identity is defined from the first by shame. Pip feels

43
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p. 2
44
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.3
32
ashamed of simply being alive, and worthless and unloved as a result. His sister constantly reminds
him that she brought him up “by hand,” yet simultaneously implies that Pip was not worth the
upbringing. When he has been to visit his parents’ graves in the churchyard without informing her,
Pip is appalled by his sister’s outraged reaction. He recounts the conversation: Mrs. Joe asks, “Who
brought you up by hand?’ ‘You did,’ said I. ‘And why did I do it, I should like to know!’ exclaimed
my sister. I whimpered, ‘I don’t know.’ ‘I don’t!’ said my sister. “I’d never do it again”45.
From his earliest years, Pip is raised to believe that he is utterly valueless as a person.
Despite Joe’s kind assurances of Pip’s value, Mrs. Joe is a far more powerful and dominating figure
in Pip’s life, so she is the one Pip listens to, not the kindly but powerless Joe.
Upon first being introduced to the wonders of the upper class through his initial visit to Satis
House, Pip suddenly begins to dream of an identity he might one day attain that could bring him
social acceptance: the identity of the gentleman. Because all he consciously searches for is social
acceptance, the gentlemanly identity that Pip begins to construct in earnest at eighteen when he
inherits a fortune is an identity that is solely focused on external social mores. Human nature in the
Victorian Era was similar in that the attainment of respect from one’s peers meant that in his
tortured quest for personal value, Pip would have to obtain the correct education, spend the right
amount of money, be seen at popular locations, live in socially acceptable accommodations, and
wear all the proper clothes and accessories. In this way, Pip was trying desperately to be accepted
by his society and to convince himself that he did in fact possess genuine worth as an individual, as
he looked to society’s acceptance to validate his worth. In allowing his society’s views of power to
determine his values, Pip moves further away from establishing a realistic identity and genuine
relationships.
When Pip begins to see the colossal foolishness of having built his identity around the idea
of becoming a socially acceptable gentleman and marrying Estella; shockingly, the great
expectations that he had thought were being realized are immediately and perhaps forever out of his
reach. Pip is unable to accept that the convict, a man who represents the lowest part of the lower
classes, an aspect of his identity from which Pip has deliberately tried to escape, is actually
financially responsible for making Pip the gentleman he has become. Once he realizes that the
money is “tainted,” Pip refuses to accept it , although this is quite simply an act of pride. Although
Magwitch’s motivations for his generosity were complex and somewhat self-serving, they did
involve genuine love, and the money was honestly earned. Pip had no charitable reason for refusing
to continue to accept the money. Because his identity was so class-conscious and external, he
simply could not stand to obtain his social status through the means of a lowest-class citizen.

45
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p. 14
33
As Pip comes to focus on outward appearances more than inward qualities, he inexorably
begins to lose his soul or identity while it is yet forming, as he comes to the point of crisis in which
he meets Estella at the young age of thirteen. Pip comes to despise his occupation as a blacksmith,
and is discontent with his “coarse hands and . . . common boots”, the external reminders of his life
as a poor commoner. Pip detests his life, his friends, for they are common, his occupation, and those
interior and exterior qualities in himself which he perceives to be “coarse and common.”
Pip’s illusory world of external socioeconomic expectations comes crashing violently down
on his head when he learns that Magwitch is his mysterious benefactor. When Magwitch reveals the
truth, Pip says, “All the truth of my position came flashing on me; and its disappointments, dangers,
disgraces, consequences of all kinds, rushed in in such a multitude that I was borne down by them
and had to struggle for every breath I drew” 46. Not only is Pip devastated to learn that Miss
Havisham is not his benefactor, and that therefore he has not been groomed and dandified for
Estella’s sake, but also, he is horrified to discover that all his attempts to escape the dark violence of
his past are for naught, and that it is that very violence itself that has made his rise in social status
possible. Because Pip’s great expectations and very identity itself are constructed upon an external
foundation, his expectations are utterly shattered by Magwitch’s revelation.
When Pip comes face to face with Magwitch towards the end of the novel, Pip is suddenly
forced to realize that his very soul, his entire identity, is based on a lie. All his hopes and dreams for
the future immediately appear to be distorted and unattainable, and Pip is left to wonder who he
really is, what he truly values in life, and how on earth he can live in poverty after having lived as a
gentleman, in a world where a gentleman is defined by either his parentage, or his money, or both.
Pip snobbishly decides that Magwitch’s money is “tainted” and that he, Pip, can no longer accept it.
One ironic aspect of Pip’s disillusion, however, is the fact that even had he known all along
that Miss Havisham was not his benefactor and even if he had loved Biddy, not Estella, he might
well have ended up becoming the same kind of gentleman that he did in fact turn into. Pip is the
consummate class-conscious Victorian gentleman, and he values the same external things that his
society values, neglecting the importance of internal qualities of nobility. The devastation of Pip’s
illusions is in some ways similar to Estella’s disillusionment. Raised without authentic love or
empathy, Estella’s identity never included much kindness or compassion. However, her abusive
marriage to Bently Drummle, and through this torment Estella finally realizes, like Pip, that she has
been proud and selfish, basing her identity upon meaningless externals rather than internal
priorities.

46
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p. 568
34
When Pip and Estella are confronted by great suffering and the destruction of their illusory
values, only then is the opportunity for any kind of redemption possible in their lives. Faced with
the reality of their value distortions, each is challenged to re-form his or her identity in correlation
with kindness and humility. For Pip, being expected to show gratitude and friendship towards
Magwitch becomes the turning point in his shallow existence. After attempting to help Magwitch
escape the country, Pip finally comes to empathize with the convict, and he tells the reader that “in
the hunted wounded shackled creature . . . [was] a man who had meant to be my benefactor, and
who had felt affectionately, gratefully, and generously, towards me with great constancy through a
series of years. I only saw in him a much better man than I had been to Joe” 47. Only once Pip finally
comes to terms with his selfish love of money and prestige at the expense of his humanity is he able
to show great loyalty and love to Magwitch, humble himself before Joe and Biddy, and obtain a sort
of works-based absolution from his guilt. For Estella, the turning point takes place outside of the
story, as she is terrorized and abused by Drummle. She tells Pip that “suffering has been stronger
than all other teaching”48, and has clearly been changed for the good as a result. Once the identities
of Estella and Pip are thus brought to crisis, the two are then afforded the capacity for rebuilding
their souls, and re-forming their identities into that which is more humble and compassionate.
Throughout the trials and frustrations that Charles Dickens experienced in his quest to
become a Victorian gentleman, the author came to believe deeply in the necessity of holding an
accurate perception of one’s life priorities. Like many Victorian society members, Pip’s moral and
socioeconomic values have an external, social, romantic, and monetary slant, and his idea of the
nature of a true gentleman is deeply flawed.
Pip’s expectations and very identity are shattered by the appearance of Magwitch and his
inescapable relationship to violence near the end of the story, Pip is prompted to come to terms with
the hollow and false identity that he has constructed for himself, based upon flawed premises of
what was truly valuable in life. It is only when Pip’s gentleman identity is inadvertently destroyed
by Magwitch, its patron, that Pip is able to begin to understand his need for the internal values that
define a true gentleman. Estella’s soul, scarred as it was being formed, is similarly undone by her
abusive husband Bently Drummle outside the pages of the book, and it is only after this suffering
that she, too, is afforded the opportunity to construct a new identity for herself based upon qualities
of true nobility.

47
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.796
48
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, p.865
35
3.3Crime and Punishment in Great Expectations

Throughout Great Expectations, Charles Dickens's attitudes toward crime and


punishment differ greatly from his real-life views. The author's contradictions toward crime
stem from the fact that Dickens was constantly torn between his childhood memories of prison
and poverty and the legal training he gained as an adult.

36