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What Shapes Pip’s Character in Great Expectations?

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What influences shape the character of young Pip in Great Expectations?

“Great Expectations”, by Charles Dickens, is an enthralling tale of

love and fortune. The story is set in the period of Dickens’

childhood, from 1810 to approximately 1830, and it is likely that

memories of his own youth inspired Dickens to write the novel. The

main character, Pip, is a gentle and humble boy whose character and

personality undergo major transformations throughout the novel. He is

influenced by many characters, in particular Estella, the hard-hearted

girl from Satis House, and Magwitch, the convict from the marshes.

From the first page of the novel, Pip is introduced as an orphan and

he enlightens the reader “I never saw my father or my mother”. This

is very similar to the time due to a low life expectancy, as a

consequence, the responsibility of his upbringing lies on the

shoulders of his sister, Mrs Joe, and her husband, Joe Gargery. It is

Mrs Joe who nurtures Pip into a mild mannered little boy who goes on

happily with his own modest life. She disciplines Pip through frequent

corporal punishment especially through tickler, “a wax-ended piece of

cane, worn smooth by collisions with my (Pip’s) tickled frame.” and

occasionally tar-water. This clearly introduces to Pip the difference

between right and wrong or good and bad. She uses fear to scare Pip

off doing ill deeds such as when he keeps asking Mrs Joe about the

Hulks and she replies: “People are put in the Hulks because they

murder, and because they rob, and forge, and do all sorts of bad; and

they always begin by asking questions.” This clearly demonstrates to

Pip that he should not ask anymore questions. A time when Pip’s

conscience, built by Mrs Joe, is visib...

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... academic studies and makes Pip a gentleman. Through this, Pip’s dream

becomes true and he starts to act like a snob even though he truly

isn’t. His attitude changes and he becomes arrogant and the exact

opposite of that he was in his childhood. This is only happens

directly due to Magwitch, yet it is Miss Havisham who sows the seed of

wickedness into Pip and it is through trying to impress Estella that

Pip changes into someone who he never dreamt of becoming. I feel that

if Pip never met these women he would have happily carried on with

life in the Gargery forge. It is ironic that the negative influence on

Pip’s life is from the bourgeois class of Miss Havisham and Estella

who create a false illusion of existence yet the positive influence

come from the last place imaginable – a fugitive convict exiled in

Australia and architect of his great expectations.
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