Unexpected Influences in Great Expectations

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When one thinks of a strong, influential person, they most likely will first think of a world leader or president. These are examples of influential leaders, but in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, the most influential characters on Pip are people who would appear to be minor female characters in the novel. One would assume since the time of Great Expectations was set the first half of the 19th Century, which was the time of the Victorian Era, that the men of the novel would have a greater influence on the women of the novel. However, Pip is impacted greatly by women throughout his life, even more so than men. Pip's greatest female influence in life was Estella, but the purpose of this paper is to discuss the influence of more minor characters on Pip, such as: Mrs. Joe, Miss Havisham, and Biddy. Their influences on him change as he grows and matures.

The first real female influence Pip had was his sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery. Pip's parents had died long before and he had never known them. Mrs. Joe then stepped up and raised Pip. She is not what one would call a positive influence. Mrs. Joe was considered a mother figure to Pip and she was always proud to proclaim to neighbors and friends that she “brought him up by hand.” Pip did not know what that expression meant. He said: “Having at that time to find out for myself what the expression meant, and knowing her to have a hard and heavy hand, and to be much in the habit of laying it upon her husband as well as upon me, I supposed that Joe Gargery and I were both brought up by hand” (Dickens 6).

Everyone in town thought Mrs. Joe was such a kind soul to take in her orphaned brother, but no one really understood how horribly she treated Pip and Joe. In chapter two, one can get an...

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.... Pip learned from Biddy that money and fame is not everything, and that the best things in life are often the things one already possesses. She also taught him patience and kindness through her own actions.

All three females: Mrs. Joe, Miss Havisham, and Biddy, taught Pip many things, both good and bad. Mrs. Joe taught Pip things the wrong way through abuse, but she also unknowingly taught Pip how to care for people. Miss Havisham took advantage of Pip and taught Pip to be wary of trusting others, but at the same time, taught Pip how to forgive . Biddy was the wisest of Pip's influences and acted as a support to Pip who was always there for him. While Estella was one of the biggest influences in Pip's life, the smaller influential female characters also had huge impacts on Pip and helped shape him to the man he became.

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