Personal Growth in Great Expectations


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Personal Growth in Great Expectations

 

The coming of age novel Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens showed how a young simple boy grew into a gentleman, and slowly discovered that no matter what happened in his life it couldn't change who he was on the inside. His attitude and personality fluctuated throughout the three main stages of his life.

 

The first line of the book showed Pip's simplicity of thought by the way he described his nickname: "My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip." (Pg.3)

 

His personality continued in the same manner until he met the stunning Estella and disturbed Miss Havisham. That was the point when his ignorance turned into envy, for all that his life was lacking living with his sister and Joe. He realized how much his family was different from that of the rich and wanted nothing more than to be accepted as a gentleman. The night he came home from Estella's he couldn't help but think of how common Estella would think his family was:

 

"Estella would consider Joe, a mere blacksmith: how think his boots, and how coarse his hands. I thought how Joe and my sister were there sitting In the kitchen and I had come up to bed from the kitchen, and how Miss Havisham and Estella never sat in a kitchen, but were far above the level of such common doings." (Pg.89)

 

After thinking of what the higher class would think of his family his own opinion of the Gargery's also shifted. He began to treat them with disrespect and acted as though he were better than them, even Joe, the one who had been his closest friend.

 

When Jaggers announced that there was an unknown person who wanted to send Pip to London to become a gentleman, Pip was overwhelmed with excitement and couldn't believe his dream had come true. He felt that this gave him the opportunity to become the man of Estella's dreams, which was all he could think about.

 

Pip lived the high life in London; he hired a servant and spends more money than he was supposed to.

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He completely forgot about his life previous to this and when visited by his dear friend Joe he acted disrespectful and lacked gratitude for all that his good friend had done for him. He felt as though he was too good for such a commoner. Unbeknown to Pip that he himself was no more than a dishonorable gentleman. Pip's world came crashing down when he discovered that the convict from his youth was his benefactor. Having Magwitch be the one that gave Pip his chance to become part of a higher social status shattered Pips "great expectations." Pip had a huge realization that he was never meant to be with Estella and that Miss Havisham the woman he had thought all this time to be his benefactor was not. The worst part of it all was that Pip had separated himself from Joe and Biddy because of their social status, and now he is left with nothing other than a discreditable wealth and lifestyle.

 

When Pip noticed all the wrongs he had committed to those who had been the best to him he decided to turn his life around by sacrificing his "expectations" for morality and inner worth. He showed this by helping Magwitch escape, and even though it didn't work Pip remained a devoted son to the man he considered his "second father" until the day of Magwitch's death. Pip was later given the chance to make a mend with Joe and found that he was a richer man in spirit now than he could ever have been as a gentleman. Joe was deeply touched by Pip's change and later named his son after him.

 

Throughout Pip's journey he was looking for a better life and he eventually discovered that nothing compared to the life he could have with a sincere heart. His ignorance in the beginning was one that all children have. When he discovered wealth the second stage of his life began. He became envious of all that he didn't have or understand not realizing all that the rich were lacking, and he had yet to loose. As he rode to the top of the social latter he slowly turned into one of them. When he eventually fell the last stage of his life began, one of moral goodness and self-satisfaction.

 


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