The Development of Pip in Great Expectations


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Through the story Great Expectations, we see that the main character of Philip Pirrip or Pip narrates his journey of growth from childhood to adulthood as he experiences life and all of the mishaps that go on in his life. We see that through all of this he experiences love, fortune, death, and betrayal. We also see how he gain friendship in certain people and finds way to have a better life. Philip Pirrip is the narrator as well as the protagonist of the story so we see that most of the story of through his direct view with any divination in terms of how the story is betrayed. Due the fact that Pip is narrating his own story many years after the events has taken place in the novel, there are in fact two Pips within Great Expectations: Pip the narrator and Pip the character—the voice that is telling the story and the person acting it out all the events. During the whole story Charles Dickens takes great care to distinguish the two Pips and the roles that they play, using the voice of Pip the narrator with perspective and maturity while also imparting to Pip how the character feels about when it is happened to him as it actually happens. This is skilfully executed best by being observed early in the book when Pip the character is a child. Here, Pip the narrator pokes fun at his younger self, but also allows us to see and feel the story through his eyes.

As a character, Pip’s two most important traits are his immature, romantic idealism and his good conscience. On the one hand, Pip has a deep desire to improve himself by attaining any possible advantage, whether it be educationally, morally, or socially. His undying will to marry Estella and join the upper class comes from the same desire as his longing to learn to read and his fear of being punished due to his crude behavior: once he understands the concepts of poverty, ignorance, and immorality, Pip does not want to be associated with any of these types of behaviour. Pip the narrator judges his own past actions extremely harshly, rarely giving himself credit for good deeds but angrily reprimanding himself of how bad his actions ones were and how that if he had a choice to do things differently he would. As a character, however, Pip’s idealism often leads him to perceive the world rather narrowly, and he has tendency to oversimplify situations based upon the values that led him to behave badly and be rude toward the people who care about him without knowing the fact that he is affecting their relationship badly. When Pip becomes a gentleman, for example, he immediately begins to act upon what he thinks how a gentleman is supposed to act, which leads him to treat Joe and Biddy snobbish and cold.

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As Pip comes into his expectations of life that he wanted, he is blessed with more money than he knows what to do with. To a boy from a poor family who used to think two pounds, a was “fat sweltering” sum of money, the quarterly paychecks that Pip receives seem to be an endless supply of money, causing him to spend exorbitantly. Attempting to act like what he believes to be a gentleman, Pip begins to spend without restraint. To fit in with snobbish rich boys like the Finches, Pip hires a servant “the Avenger,” who has “little to do” but needs a “great deal to eat,” for Pip keeps him on only due to the fact that the other Finches had servants. This also shows that Pip clearly only thinks of money as a way to raise his status in the eyes of others which is quite evident with his partaking in the Finches’ traditional dining which is expensive every fortnight and then causing “six waiters to get drunk.” Pip soon understands that even though he has every worldly possession he could want; he is still not happy. Pip then realizes that on the outside, there is a “gay fiction” that the rich are always enjoying themselves but finds out the true darkness that comes with being a part of the rich and how they abuse their money as a way to overpower others. As Pip matures, he realizes that he has done absolutely nothing of substance or goodwill with his money, so he shows a new understanding of how to use his for money for the betterment for someone else, with his buying a partnership for Herbert, to show that he is able to do something that will help someone in the long run and not on just a lavish lifestyle.

More evidence of how Pip’s character has developed and how he become humbler in term of how he spends money is that he starts receiving a constant income from his benefactor and also he adopted helping Herbert’s problem by finding a partner, which he secretly solved by buying the partnership for Herbert. We can also see that he has become lawful as well the fact that he has matured and started being more compassionate towards other people whom he loves and were friends for him even before he becomes wealthy. He finds out that Magwitch was his benefactor and not Miss Havisham who she thought was his benefactor all along. At first he felt embarrassed that his ambition to become a part of the social “upper class” was supported by a low-class criminal, which lead to unrest within Pip’s character again, but this feeling soon changed.

Pip is also seen that he has made up his mind to take the criminal, Magwitch, to a place where he can hide him from Compey’s son and the police that is after him. Thus he took an ethical step by stop using the criminal’s money in any form that he still way that he needs, which shows that the deeds that Pip demonstrated that he has a great gentleness and courtesy in his character to do what is morally right. As the story carries on about his dotting and affection, we see that it switches to a larger than life but not out of selfishness, it was out of the honest feelings that he feels and not something that someone has installed upon him at an earlier part during his life.

Pip comes to the Satis house to see Miss Havisham, she saw how broken Pip’s heart is and showed regret and pleads for his forgiveness, saying that she did that deliberately want to lead him into believing that she was his benefactor. Walking in the garden, Pip can’t help but think of the morbid and sorrowful spectacle that was Miss Havisham hanging from the brewery that he once fantasized about as a child. As he looks in on Miss Havisham, he witnesses an accident that involves the fireplace and he rushes to her aid, while also badly burning his hands and arm in order to save her life. His actions can be seen as noble and valiant, even though he had all the right to be very angry with Miss Havisham, he still was selfless in the act of saving her life.

Upon receiving an anonymous letter calling him back to the marshes where he grew up, Pip returned to hear that Pumblechook was taking all of the credit for rising Pip’s social standings within the society at this period of time. Pip bears it without saying a word, thinking instead about Joe and Biddy, will also thinking again of the neglect that he had given Joe and not feeling very good about how he treated everyone that was always there for him. This humility shows a noble side of Pip’s character and that the reader is lead to notice how Pip’s character, has reached a new peak of contentment, is beginning to improve his overall personality.

As Pip grows closer to Magwitch, he eventually does not care about acting like a gentleman or spending prodigiously, but now spends all his resources on getting Magwitch to safety. Pip even forgoes many opportunities to make himself the heir to Magwitch’s fortune, a gesture showing how Pip cares more about getting Magwitch to safety than securing the “portable property.” As Pip goes through this new revelation in his life, he learns that money and possessions are not as important in his life as he has been led to believe by others that was around him all the time.

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