In the present age, the more successful children usually come from well-structured families that are able to provide their children with a lots of care and a happy and loving childhood. Children growing up in this environment will describe their youth as a time of wonder and laughter; they will enjoy the experiences as a child. However, in the Victorian age, this is a completely different story as most children had to go through many hardships and sufferings, in order to satisfy the needs of their family. Great Expectations is set in the Victorian age and Charles Dickens portrays the years of childhood as at time of confusion, darkness and terror. Nevertheless, this unfavorable childhood helps Pip mature as a person in many different ways. Pip's experiences with multiple people when he was a child provides important stepping stones for his journey in becoming a successful gentleman. Specifically, the people that aid Pip in his journey are: his family, namely Mrs. Joe and Mr. Pumblechook, Estella and himself. In the novel, the author develops the idea that these unfortunate experiences in young Pip's life are important because they shape and mold Pip into becoming a successful gentleman.
Pip's miserable childhood is established within the first few chapters of the play. First, the reader is introduced to a young and innocent Pip standing next to his parent's tombstones and second, Pip is raised by a loud and abusive woman, who is actually his sister. Apart from his sister, Pip also has an uncle, Mr. Pumblechook, who is equally as unkind. These two characters make the young boy's life dreadful and yet, they play an important role in Pip's growth as a character. Mrs. Joe's hate towards Pip is expressed throughout stage one of the novel, and especially when she exclaims,
"I may truly say I've never had this apron of mine off since born you were. It's bad enough to be a blacksmith's wife, and him a Gargery, without being your mother." (Dickens 14)
Mrs. Joe does not treat Pip as her brother, she believes that if Pip were not alive, then she could have been married to someone better than a blacksmith. This hatred towards Pip usually takes a physical form and causes Mrs. Joe to constantly beat Pip. However, though Pip hates the abuse, he believes that his "sister's beatings had made [him] sensitive." (Dickens 64) The word sensitive refers to the skill that Pip can comprehend another person's emotions and react quickly to situations. This skill proves useful later on in Pip's life, when he realizes that he may have been wrong to have chosen the path of a gentleman. Similarly, Mr. Pumblechook is also quite disrespectful to Pip, as well as being responsible for forcing Pip to see Miss Havisham. Initially, Pumblechook wanted Pip to see Miss Havisham because he believed that this was their chance to get rich. Although Pip was hesitant, he was young and had little power, thus he was at the mercy of Pumblechook. However, Pumblechook's selfish decision set...