Pip's Great Expectations

880 Words4 Pages
In the novel, “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens, the main character Philip Pirrip, who is known as “Pip” throughout the novel, has a series of great expectations that he goes through. The title of the novel, as many other great book titles, comes with various meanings that are present in the story. In the literal sense Pip’s “great expectations” refer to the 19th century meaning, which involve receiving a large inheritance. Meanwhile, on a deeper level Pip sets goals that he hopes to accomplish in the future which could also be referred to as his “great expectations”. The title, with these multiple meanings that are attached to it, ends up being ironic after all is said and done at the end of the novel. Pip comes from a lower class family of the Victorian era. The reader first meets Pip around the age of 6, when he explains that his parents, as well as 5 of his brothers, have all passed and he has been raised by his sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, and her husband Joe Gargery. His sister continuously reminds Pip about her having brought him up “by hand” (Dickens 7) and even details her regrets about having taken him in as her own child saying “I’d never do it again!” (Dickens 8). Despite the rough upbringing, or perhaps because of the rough upbringing, Pip has high hopes of one day becoming a gentleman and continuously dreams of what his life will be like once he is part of the upper class. These aspirations indicate that Pip has great expectations for himself. He expects to become a perfect gentleman and climb the social status ladder. Soon after explaining his home situation, Pip describes to the reader of his encounter with Ms. Havisham, who he describes as “an immensely rich and grim lady who lived in a large and dismal hous... ... middle of paper ... ...” and his great expectations to become a gentleman and marry Estella are never completely fulfilled. Although Pip does become part of the upper class for a bit he eventually gets a career like any other hard working man as evident through his conversation with Estella at the end of the novel where he says “I work pretty hard for a sufficient living, and therefore—yes, I do well,” (Dickens 489). Although Pip’s great expectations are never actually reached they ultimately teach Pip a lot about what being a true gentleman is, not the materialistic and suave definition of a gentleman he began the novel with. The failures that result from his original great expectations make the novel’s title ironic and makes the reader look into what people’s real great expectations should be in life. Works Cited Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1942. Print
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