The Battle Between Passion And Responsibility In Great Expectations

975 words - 4 pages

How do passions and desires eight in against duties and responsibilities? It is a personal battle that many people fight every day. In Great Expectations, young Pip fights this battle with himself. Charles Dickens portrays Pip as a young lower middle class boy in Victorian Era England. Pip is a blacksmith-to-be and early on is satisfied with his life. As Pip’s life progresses, he is confronted with opportunities and situations that challenge his very integrity. Pip is given the ability to pursue his passions, but perhaps he is given this ability before he developed the responsibility and judgment to use them wisely. A reader may trace Pip’s conflicts of passion and responsibility through the three stages of his life in order to discover how he evolves from a selfish, though once content, child into a responsible, caring, adult.
As a child, Pip is content in his somewhat chaotic world, seeing his life at the forge as a road to manhood, but after a visit to Satis House, he becomes enamored with wealth and status and falls into a spiraling discontentment with what he sees as a common life. Pip often visits the graves of his parents, while doing this one day, Pip is confronted by an escaped convict, who he says “…Turned me upside-down and emptied my pockets”(10). As this convict, Magwitch by name, turns Pip upside-down literally, Pip’s world is turned up-side down figuratively, as Pip’s relationship with Magwitch is arguably the most important event of his life, and changes almost everything. After this seemingly mundane task, Pip seems trapped by the convict, providing him food and drink. When he isn’t being victimized by the convict, he is being belittled by his love, Estella, causing him to finally become dissatisfied with the life that once brought him contentment. In his uncertainty, Pip states, “…I would decide conclusively that my dissatisfaction was gone… [then] some confounding reminiscence of [Estella] would fall upon me and…scatter my wits”(148). At this time of ambiguity in Pip’s life, he often feels unsatisfied with what he considers a coarse and common lifestyle, and other times he feel content and almost proud of his working life.
As Pip’s desires for wealth are fulfilled, his augmentation in status causes him to look down upon those of social classes now beneath him with an air of superciliousness and contempt. As a proud Pip seems to put it, “…Grazing cattle…seemed to wear a more respectful air…at the possessor of such great expectations” (164). At this point, it is obvious that young Pip, once so humble and kind, has begun to transform into a egotistical, haughty person, all of this a product of the fulfillment of his greatest dream, his ascension above the life of a commoner. After Pip receives his cosmic wealth, he begins to perceive everything in a new way, it seems as though he...

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