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... ... middle of paper ... ... 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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