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Charles Dickens' Great Expectations Essay

2198 words - 9 pages

Pip's False Expectations

      In Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, the reader is taken through the journey of a little boy as he pursuits his dream and great expectations beyond his common self. Pip's, the protagonist, dream of becoming a gentleman is realized upon his meeting of Estella, the love of his life. Pip changes from an innocent, sensitive and common young boy to a selfish, rejecting adolescent. He is led into making grave mistakes based on his false expectations of marrying Estella and being a gentleman. In the end, he learns that all his aspirations have been based on false presumptions and expectation of his ability to rise above his past and become something better.
     Joe Gargery is married to Pip's sister, Mrs. Joe. Although Mrs. Joe treats Pip with resentment and constantly reminds him that he is a burden, Joe is a loyal friend and ally to Pip. Joe loves and supports Pip even when Pip is ashamed and abandons him. In Pip's childhood, Joe is the only one who shows him love. Their relationship is based more in equality than of father/son which allows Pip to ask questions and experience some sort of communication with another person. Mrs. Joe treats Pip harshly and never shows him any love. Pip eventually becomes embarrassed of Joe and his home.
     The first visit to Miss Havisham's house is also the first encounter with Estella for Pip. He believes that she is much older than he is and is intimidated by her upon meeting. He observes her to be haughty, contemptuous and cold-hearted, yet beautiful. She constantly refers to him as "boy" which emphasizes Pip's inferiority to Estella. Estella instills in Pip a shame of himself and his commonness. During Pip's first meeting with Estella, they play cards and she states, "He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy! And what coarse hands he has. And what thick boots (Dickens, 59)" to point out her observation of his common hands and boots. Pip reflects upon this insult with "I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very different pair (Dickens, 59)", which accentuates the beginning of Pip's embarrassment of his home, Joe and his commonness and his greater expectations of himself. Pip starts to believe his life and his home to be coarse and common, as well.
     After years of visits to Miss Havisham and Estella, Pip develops the notion that he must become a gentleman in order to worthy of Estella's love. However, Pip brings Joe to Miss Havisham, on her request. Pip is embarrassed of Joe's clothing, the way he fiddles with his hat and how he walks on his tiptoes as they enter the house of Miss Havisham. He comments that Joe's dialect seems unusually strong and illiterate. As Miss Havisham questions Joe about starting Pip on his apprenticeship, Joe directs his answers towards Pip, who continually tries to make Joe...

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