Stages Of Pip Growing Up In The Novel "Great Expectations

1094 words - 4 pages

Great Expectations is a novel by Charles Dickens that thoroughly captures the adventures of growing up. The book details the life of a boy through his many stages of life, until he is finally a grown man, wizened by his previous encounters. Dickens’ emotions in this book are very sincere, because he had a similar experience when his family went to debtor’s prison. Pip starts as a young boy, unaware of social class, who then becomes a snob, overcome by the power of money, and finally grows into a mature, hardworking man, knowing that there is much more to life than money.
In the first stage of Great Expectations, Pip begins as a contented boy, happy with his own way of life, but soon becomes humiliated by the ones he loves, and starts to morph into someone who is very status-conscious. At the start, Pip looks up to Joe, and even says, “Joe and I (were) fellow-sufferers…” showing that Pip regarded Joe as an equal (Dickens 7). At this stage in Pip’s life, he has not yet realized what social class is, and so he is perfectly happy being with Joe. Joe and Pip are good friends at this point, and Pip really appreciates him as a person. This all changes after Pip’s first visit with Estella, especially when he says, “Her contempt for me was so strong that it became infectious, and I caught it,” showing that he is beginning to take into account other people’s thoughts about himself (62). Although Estella looks down upon Pip for being ‘common’, there is irony in his statement, because Estella comes from an even lower class than him. Throughout the whole novel, Pip tries to impress her, thinking that she is well above him, when she is actually the daughter of a convict. Finally, Pip shows betrayal to Joe when he says, “I was truly wretched, and had a strong conviction on me that I should never like Joe’s trade (111).” As a younger boy, Pip loved both Joe and his trade, and really wanted to share it with him. Nearing the end of the first act though, this completely changes, and Pip wants nothing to do with the common trade.
Beginning in the second stage, Pip goes off to London with his newfound fortune to become a gentleman, though all that he would truly become is a rich, wealthy snob. Upon arriving at Barnard’s Inn, Pip rudely talks about the shabby conditions of the place, even saying, “So imperfect was this realization of the first of my great expectations that I looked in dismay at Wemmick,” showing that now that he is rich, he feels he should be treated like a king (181). Wemmick even mistakes his look of contempt, demonstrating that already he is becoming a snob, but at this point others don’t take him to be one. Although this passage only talks about the ‘first’ of Pip’s expectations, one can see that they are already set too high. Pip accompanies Wemmick to Newgate prison, but afterwards says, “I wished Wemmick had not met me, or I had not yielded to him and gone with him,” because he feels he is too...

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