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Redemptive Rewards: The Progression Of Pip

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Autor:   •  January 6, 2011  •  2,480 Words (10 Pages)  •  615 Views

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In Pip, Charles Dickens has created a significant character swayed by the pressure of social status in nineteenth-century London. Throughout Great Expectations, he faces many internal and external struggles, along his path of becoming an educated, wealthy and well-respected gentleman. While he reaps many benefits of being among the upper class of society, he damages several relationships with people who truly care about him. He leaves them in his past and has no intentions of returning to them for anything, all because their position in life is below his. When he becomes a gentleman, he finds that it is improper to associate with the common. His viewpoints from the beginning of the novel and his viewpoints when he finally attains his goal of becoming a gentleman are vastly contrasted. Pip's development can be divided into a stage of innocence, a stage of sin, and a stage of redemption.

Growing up at the forge with Joe formed Pip's stage of innocence. His life at the forge was somewhat peaceful and content, despite Mrs. Joe's violent outbursts. While Pip was not fully satisfied with his lifestyle, because of his harsh sister, he was not concerned in any way with being wealthy or becoming someone of importance. He was generally comfortable and at ease with his life, because he was born and raised as a commoner and knows not of the pleasures of being amongst of the upper-class society. In the household, the only person Pip could really talk to on his own level was Joe. Mrs. Joe was a hard woman to express one's inner most thoughts with and it was by far, much easier to talk to Joe about certain things. Pip exhibits the reason behind why he admires Joe by stating, “I loved Joe- perhaps for no better reason for in those early days than because the dear fellow let me love him" (Dickens 40). His relationship with Joe was very strong but he often worried what the consequences would be if he happened to lose Joe’s confidence or trust. He reveals his worry about the outcome if the situation were to occur by saying, “The fear of losing Joe’s confidence and of thenceforth sitting in the chimney-corner at night staring drearily at my forever lost companion and friend, tied up my tongue” (Dickens 40). He learned, of course, that Joe wouldn’t love him any less whatever wrongdoing he committed.

Pip's first encounter with Magwitch in the churchyard, as a young boy, served a critical portion of the story. When the convict approached, Pip felt alarmed, confused, and sympathetic. While Pip felt threatened by the convict, he also couldn’t help but feel compassion for the man. When he brings the convict what he ordered, Pip commiserates on the man’s lack of warmth, shelter and decent clothes. The convict will never be absent from Pip's life, and this fact is known by the frequent references of him, by Pip. There are also incidences that cannot merely be filed under "coincidence". One particular circumstance, which took place in the Jolly Bargeman, is an evident clue that the convict will play a larger role in Pip’s life down the road. While sitting with Joe, Mr. Wopsle, and a stranger, Pip is shocked to see Joe’s exact file being used to stir the stranger’s drink. Whereas Pip is already startled now that he recognizes the convict, he is even more astonished when the stranger hands him a shilling wrapped in what he later discovers is a two-pound note.

Pip's first meeting with Miss Havisham and Estella at the Satis House was a major turning point in Pip's existence and forever altered his point of view on life. Pip's meeting with Miss Havisham and Estella, exposed to him that being of higher class made one more acceptable in society. Estella's harsh comments about Pip's common ways and standard of living deeply hurt him. He retreats to the courtyard to cry. He examines himself: “I took the opportunity of being alone in the courtyard to look at my coarse hands and common boots. My opinions of these accessories were not favorable. They had never troubled me before, but they troubled me now as vulgar appendages” (Dickens 60). At this moment he blames Joe and his sister for raising him as a commoner. The following statement exhibits his displeasure: “I wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so, too” (Dickens 60). From this moment on, he decided that all that was in store for him in life was to be a gentleman and climb his way to the top ranks of society.

His decision to become a gentleman caused him to begin using others to his advantage. An example of this would be Biddy. He used her to learn as much as he could for a purpose that wasn't at all worth it to pursue, considering that the upper classes consisted of arrogant and unfeeling people. Pip comes to the sense of using Biddy to his advantage: “The felicitous idea occurred to me a morning or two later when I woke that the best step I could take towards making myself uncommon was too get out of Biddy everything she knew” (Dickens 71). His relationship to Biddy was a grateful and kind one, as he appreciated her teaching him, when his actual teacher was constantly napping during which lessons should be taught. However, since his experience with Estella and Miss Havisham, he made use of Biddy for the sole purpose of becoming a gentlemen and educated, in which he did not know at the time, would make him ruin important relationships with those he originally cared about. Pip's past is not forgotten, but he tries to make it so, by taking a completely diverse path in life and leaving his past behind him.

In London, Pip is exposed to a wholly different level of affluence and at this point his innocence develops into a stage of sin. Suddenly commoners are as valuable as dirt to him, and not worth his time. His personality and mindset is twisted and contorted by the actions of the haughty and conceited community that surrounds him and his original outlook on life matters no more. Before Pip moved to London, his relationship to Joe was a strong one. Joe deeply admired Pip and Pip loved him back and thought of him as a kind and goodhearted man. In spite of this, when he arrived in London and adapted to the new life there, his outlook on Joe became a mix between embarrassment and disgust. It caused Pip deep displeasure to hear of Joe coming by to visit him when he was living with Herbert Pocket: "Not with pleasure though I was bound to him by many ties; no; with considerable disturbance, some mortification, and a keen sense of incongruity" (Dickens 229). Pip imparts that he is worried about Herbert seeing Joe, and Drummle in particular. He was embarrassed of what others would think


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