The Prodigal Son in Great Expectations Essay

:: 5 Works Cited
Length: 2732 words (7.8 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Aqua      
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is an elaborate retelling of the Biblical parable of the prodigal son (Ryken 157). It follows the life of Pip as he rises through and falls from society. He begins his life as an orphaned boy in a blacksmith’s home to become a young gentleman of “great expectations”. Pip forsakes the love and care of his guardian, Joe Gargery, for advancement in society. Misfortunes befall him; he loses all his wealth and he is forced to return to his home. Pip is the prodigal son who ungratefully leaves his home and squanders all his wealth. Joe Gargery is the loving father who patiently forbears and lovingly welcomes his boy back. Pip’s redemption is revealed in the novel. Great Expectations is a bildungsroman; it is a novel which shows the education of Pip. Pip learns about the corruptness of society and the shallowness of social class. In true Victorian fashion, Dickens’ novel is a form of social criticism; it attacks the conceited notions of society.
The allusion to the parable prodigal son is hinted at early in the novel. Mr. Pumblechook and Mr. Wopsle constantly admonish Pip to be “‘grateful…to them which brought [him] up by hand’” (Dickens 54). Mr. Wopsle declares that “‘swine were the companions of the prodigal’” and an ungrateful child is worse than swine (Dickens 26). Mrs. Joe often reproaches Pip for being ungrateful. She resents having to raise Pip up since his infancy. However, Mrs. Joe abuses Pip (Ryken 156). She whips him for unnecessary reasons and is annoyed by any question he asks. The person to whom Pip owes his gratitude to is Joe. Joe had “sanctified” his home, making it a “pleasant place” (Dickens 112).
Like the father in the parable, Joe loves Pip wholeheartedly and unconditionally....

... middle of paper ...

...oe, his two fathers who devoted their lives for his happiness. Pip’s journey home demonstrates that he has learned the important lesson of gratitude. Like other literature of the Victorian Age, Great Expectations is a novel which provides entertainment, social criticism, and moral lessons.

Primary Source
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. New York: Bantam, 1986. Print.
Secondary Sources
The Bible: Authorized King James Version with Apocrypha. New York: Oxford UP, 1997.
Kappel, Lawrence, ed. Readings on Great Expectations. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1999. Print.
Ryken, Leland. Realms of Gold: The Classics in Christian Perspective. Wheaton, IL: H. Shaw, 1991. Print.
"Redemption and Love". Brooklyn College: Department of English. 11 May 2002. Web. 10 Dec. 2010..

Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

This essay is 100% guaranteed.

Title Length Color Rating  
Essay Keillor's Prodigal Son - Keillor's "Prodigal Son" Keillor's "Prodigy Son" is a parody of the original, "The Parable of a Prodigy Son". When making the parody, Keillor had to change certain characteristics in order to make it humorous. Some of these characteristics were the setting, characters and the tone. In changing these, Keillor had to be respectful and keep the same theme in the parody as the original parable because he didn't want to offend the fans of the original parable. Keillor turns the famous parable, "The Parable of a Prodigy Son" into a parody, or comedy....   [tags: Keillor Prodigal Son Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1028 words
(2.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Acceptance, Forgiveness, and Hope in the Parable of the Prodigal Son - Acceptance, Forgiveness, and Hope in the Parable of the Prodigal Son In the first century AD, Jesus told a parable to the Pharisees, who believed they were better than the common sinners of the world. This has since come to be referred to as The Parable of the Prodigal Son. In this parable, Jesus tells of a family consisting of a father and his two sons. The older son appears to be very well mannered and level headed, while the younger seems somewhat rebellious. Jesus uses this story to try to teach a lesson to the Pharisees that everyone deserves the hope provided by a second chance in life if they are willing to swallow their pride, admit their mistakes, and ask for forgiveness....   [tags: The Parable of the Prodigal Son] 906 words
(2.6 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Pip's Excpectations in Jane Austen's Great Expectations Essay - Pip's Excpectations in Jane Austen's Great Expectations In the novel 'Great Expectations', the central character Pip has many expectations thrust upon him by others, as well as himself, from a very early age. What do we discover about these expectations and the characters who 'demand' great things of Pip and does he live up to the expectations of himself and others. In the novel 'Great Expectations', many characters have expectations in Pip....   [tags: Great Expectations Essays] 768 words
(2.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Repentance: The Story of The Prodigal Son - The “Prodigal Son” is much more than a short story. Though seemingly simple and straightforward, it encompasses many important themes and symbols. The three main characters (Father, younger song, older son) all represent one aspect of the religious undertone that is carried throughout the duration of this tale. While the concept of family is prevalent in this story, what is actually more important is the symbol of Jesus and his followers that is communicated through the idea of family. The family embodies the idea of God, sinners, and Pharisees....   [tags: The Bible]
:: 2 Works Cited
1511 words
(4.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Great Expectations Essay - The novel Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens is a compelling book which many people consider to be one of Charles Dickens’ greatest works. Great Expectations is a novel that has many elements that help the growth and development of Phillip Pirrip, better known as Pip. But none of these elements can be more evident than the kinds of love and their different roles in Pips life. In order to answer how love has influenced Pip’s life we must first define what love is. According to Miss Havisham love is, The different types of love and their roles in Pips life is represented differently by the different characters....   [tags: Great Expectations Essays] 3113 words
(8.9 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
The Parable of the Prodigal Son Essay - The Parable of the Prodigal Son Jesus used parables when teaching. Parables are earthly stories that have a heavenly meaning. In using parables, the Lord was able to teach a spiritual concept is such a way that even the most illiterate person would be able to understand. Therefore, the parables are filled with symbolism. "The Parable of the Prodigal Son" is an earthly story that shows how pleased God is when a sinner repents and comes back to Him. The father of this parable represents God who is the Father of all mankind....   [tags: Papers] 387 words
(1.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Women and Property in Great Expectations - Women and Property in Great Expectations        Women and property is one of the central themes in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. Dickens wrote this novel during the mid-nineteenth century, a period when women's property rights were being intensely debated in England. His depiction of propertied women in the novel reflects Victorian England's beliefs about women's inability to responsibly own and manage their own property. Miss Havisham is presented as the embodiment of women's failure to properly manage wealth and property....   [tags: Great Expectations Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1894 words
(5.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Charles Dickens' Great Expectations - Pip's False Expectations In Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, the reader is taken through the journey of a little boy as he pursuits his dream and great expectations beyond his common self. Pip's, the protagonist, dream of becoming a gentleman is realized upon his meeting of Estella, the love of his life. Pip changes from an innocent, sensitive and common young boy to a selfish, rejecting adolescent. He is led into making grave mistakes based on his false expectations of marrying Estella and being a gentleman....   [tags: Great Expectations Essays] 2217 words
(6.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Charles Dickens' Great Expectations - Great Expectations In the novel Great Expectations, written in 1860 by Charles Dickens, there is an underlying theme of disillusionment, but it is not a melancholy book. The main character, named Pip, has many "great expectations" in his life, but over the course of time these illusions are slowly shattered. This would make one think that this narrative would be a tale of sadness and misery, it is not glum at all because of the friendships, love, and humor that Pip experience. Throughout the book many friendships become evident between Pip and other people....   [tags: Great Expectations Essays] 578 words
(1.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Great Expectations Essay - Great Expectations Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations is a very enjoyable book for the reader for many reasons. Overall, Great Expectations is a novel that effectively depicts the emotions and feelings of the characters in the story and has a plot that maintains the reader’s interest. These elements, along with others help to make the novel appealing for the reader. When young boy by the name of Philip Pirrup (referred to a Pip by all that know him) encounters an escaped convict in a churchyard, he is extorted to get food and a file for the man....   [tags: Great Expectations Essays] 1150 words
(3.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]