The forms that stand in closest competition with those undergoing modification and improvement will naturally suffer most.
--Darwin, The Origin of the Species (1859)
Christopher Ricks poses the question, in his essay on Dickens' Great Expectations, "How does Pip [the novel's fictional narrator] keep our sympathy?" (Ricks 202). The first of his answers to this central inquiry are: the fact that Pip is "ill-treated by his sister Joe and by all the visitors to the house" and that Pip "catches" his unrequited lover, Estella's, "infectious contempt for his commonness" (Ricks 202). In answering like this, Ricks immediately assumes a dichotomous contrast between the natural human and the taught (acted-upon) human. Ricks is saying that the natural Pip is good and therefore holds the reader's sympathy while the manipulated Pip is bad and behaves in ways with which the reader cannot sympathize, and wants to condemn. The reader sides with the basic Pip and blames not him, but his circumstances and others, for his problematic conduct.
The abbreviated childhood narratives that many of the novel's characters provide support this loaded nature / nurture division, in which nature is the base and nurture is the skewed corruption of that base. The reader sympathizes with and is intrigued by the stories the characters tell of their childhoods because the stories easily explain why these people act as they do, and render excuses for them when they act maliciously. Children act according to the way they are raised so as to remedy and balance out the past, and their basic good nature only re-emerges after that task has been completed. Miss Havisham, the novel's schadenfreud terrorist, "was a spoilt child. Her mother ...
... middle of paper ...
...gled with their circumstances as to incorporate their selves into them, the novel becomes simply a series of events. Miss Havisham asks Estella "Are you tired of me?" and Estella replies, "Only a little tired of myself" (Dickens 279). Estella has no self and so all the intrigue of personal dilemma and development disappears. Even Miss Havisham is not a self, but is only the blunt response to rejection. This extreme example is representative of all the characters in Great Expectations. They are not subjects; they are objects in a world of pure, artless evolution.
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. London: Penguin, 1994.
Ricks, Christopher, "Great Expectations," from Dickens and the Twentieth Century. Ed. John Gross and G. Pearson, 1966. pp. 199-211.
Schad, John. The Reader in the Dickensian Mirrors. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- In St. Thomas Aquinas’ On Being and Essence, he devotes an entire chapter of his book discussing how essence is found in composite substances. “Form and matter are found in composite substances, as for example soul and body in man. But it cannot be said that either one of these alone is called the essence.’ Aquinas argues that in a composite substance, not only is the form but also matter in the essence of a thing. However, in Metaphysics, Aristotle says that essence is in the form, which acts upon matter.... [tags: Aquinas, Being and Essence, Metaphysics]
996 words (2.8 pages)
The Identities Of The Characters From Mister Pip By Lloyd Jones And Nomi Nickel From A Complicated Kindness
- The identities of the main characters Matilda Laimo from Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones and Nomi Nickel from A complicated Kindness by Miriam Towes are influenced by their own history and by people around them, which also shape them as individuals. Both novels teach us that our identity is revealed when we are faced with difficulties in life. It is shown that identity comes from a mixture of factors such as time, culture, religion and place where one lives. The identities of Nomi and Matilda will further be explained.... [tags: Great Expectations, Charles Dickens, Mister Pip]
1148 words (3.3 pages)
- ... A way to prove this is Descartes triangle theory, where he states that a triangle has three sides but not because his senses told him that a triangle has three sides. Instead his intellect and knowledge tell him a triangle has three sides, meaning that triangles do exist and this is a clear and distinct perception. Relating this to God we can say that God is just like the triangle where our senses don’t tell us he exists, instead our intellect and knowledge does. Relating this to the real world Descartes states that we can clearly and distinctly perceive that bodies take up physical mass or takes up space.... [tags: religious and philosophical analysis]
924 words (2.6 pages)
- A prevalent belief during the Enlightenment, a time of great learning and science, was that Africans were an inhumane species, only fit for slavery. Race determined slavery, it was treated as a biological essence that accounted for unbridgeable cultural differences. Race also determined the “whiteness” or “otherness” of an individual (Blevins-Faery 10).The differences Europeans observed in Africans left them to believe African cultures were inferior, attributing the differences to skin color.... [tags: Black people, White people, Race, Racism]
1790 words (5.1 pages)
- In many works of literature, there can be some sort of character that either an individual or a society looks up to in regards to being a “supreme force”. This dynamism can help individuals overcome a sense of who they are and what their purpose is in life. According to Descartes, God’s essence, although not physically in character, is engraved within each and every one of us; that is, we all obtain some sort of spirit of God within our physical well being. The relationship held between God and oneself as an existent is that, physically, we are here on this planet and we obtain to essence of God’s spirit in different ways.... [tags: Philosophy, Moral Duty]
905 words (2.6 pages)
- As a bildungsroman, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations presents the growth and development of Philip Pirrip, better known as Pip. Pip is both the main character in the story and the narrator, telling his tale many years after the events take place. Pip goes from being a young boy living in poverty in the marsh country of Kent, to being a gentleman of high status in London. Pip’s growth and maturation in Great Expectations lead him to realize that social status is in no way related to one’s real character.... [tags: Character Analysis ]
1547 words (4.4 pages)
- Since the dawn of man, humans have always wanted to seek out the truth. Man has pondered and explored great thoughts and concepts that have caused much confusion. Perhaps the one question that has plagued man the most is what exactly is a soul. During the Roman Era, people believed in many gods, spirits, and life after death. As time progressed, different religious beliefs arose, and new sects of faith were established. The belief in one God replaced the belief in many gods and the belief of one's soul transforming into the after life was established.... [tags: World Literature]
645 words (1.8 pages)
- The Essence of Humanity What makes us human. What underlying characteristic differentiates humans from animals or Gods. Where does the essence of humanity lie. Initially the answer may seem simple. One might say when comparing animals to humans that they are cruder than humans; they live their life by instinct, they don't love, they don't strive to educate themselves and each other - their overriding goal is to survive and make it through the day. Yet, human history and the scientific evidence tracing our human linage back to some ape-like predecessor proves that humans (well, their ancestors) most likely lived that same existence - scavenging for food and looking for a safe and warm... [tags: Papers]
507 words (1.4 pages)
- The Essence of Judaism Judaism is one of the most widely practiced religions in the world. It is also the oldest monotheistic religion, originating at least 3,000 years ago. There are three different kinds of Judaism, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Orthodox is the most traditional and had changed very little over the years. Conservative has changed to fit the times without losing much tradition. Reform Judaism is most modern of the three. No matter which kind of Judaism someone practices, in order to be considered Jewish they must practice Jewish traditions, observe Jewish law, and believe in God.... [tags: Papers]
477 words (1.4 pages)
- Great Expectations Dickens’ gripping novel of 1861, Great Expectations, portrays his distinguishing tendency to exaggerate both plot and characters. Chapter eight enhances his main aim of initiating sympathy for Pip, and this, consequently, lasts for the novel’s entirety. We are shown similarities between Dickens’ early childhood memories and the protagonist’s inability to defend himself against the injustices he discovers throughout the early years of life. Dickens successfully creates a sympathetic mood through a range of techniques, including an exquisite use of emotive dialogue, sophisticated imagery and symbolism.... [tags: essays research papers]
2494 words (7.1 pages)